Fire protection engineering

Fire protection engineering (also known as fire engineering or fire safety engineering) is the application of science and engineering principles to protect people and their environments from the destructive effects of fire and smoke.

The discipline of fire protection engineering includes, but is not exclusive to:

* Active fire protection - fire suppression systems, and fire alarm.
* Passive fire protection - fire and smoke barriers, space separation
* Smoke control and management
* Building design, layout, and space planning
* Fire prevention programs
* Fire dynamics and modeling
* Human behavior during fire events
* Risk analysis, including economic factors

In practice, fire protection engineers typically identify risks and design safeguards that aid in preventing, controlling, and mitigating the effects of fires. Fire protection engineers assist architects in evaluating buildings' life safety and property protection goals. FPEs are also employed as fire investigators, including such very large-scale cases as the analysis of the collapse of the World Trade Centers. NASA uses fire protection engineers in its space program to help improve safety.


Fire protection engineering (FPE) can lay a claim to roots dating as far back as Ancient Rome, when the Emperor Nero ordered the city to be rebuilt utilizing passive fire protection methods, such as space separation and non-combustible building materials, after a catastrophic fire. The discipline of fire protection engineering emerged in the early 20th century as a distinct discipline, separate from civil, mechanical and chemical engineering, in response to new fire problems posed by the Industrial Revolution. Fire protection engineers of this era concerned themselves with devising methods to protect large factories, particularly spinning mills and other manufacturing properties. Another motivation to organize the discipline, define practices and conduct research to support innovations became clear in response to catastrophic conflagrations and mass urban fires that swept many major cities during the latter half of the 19th century (see City or area fires).

In 1903 the first degree program in fire protection engineering was initiated as the Armour Institute of Technology (later becoming part of the Illinois Institute of Technology).

As the 20th Century emerged, several catastrophic fires resulted in changes to buildings codes to better protect people and property from fire. It was only in the latter half of the 20th Century that fire protection engineering emerged as a unique engineering profession. The primary reason for this emergence was the development of the “body of knowledge,” specific to the profession that occurred after 1950. Other factors contributing to the growth of the profession include the start of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers in 1950, the emergence of independent consulting fire protection engineers, and the promulgation of engineering standards for fire protection.



"'Fire protection engineers, like their counterparts in other engineering and scientific disciplines, undertake a formal course of education and continuing professional development to acquire and maintain their competence. This education typically includes foundation studies in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and technical writing. Professional engineering studies focus students on acquiring proficiency in material science, statics, dynamics, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, heat transfer, engineering economics, ethics, Systems in engineering, reliability, and environmental psychology. Specialized studies in combustion, probabilistic risk assessment or risk management, the design of fire suppression systems, the application and interpretation of model building codes, and the measurement and simulation of fire phenomena complete most curricula.

In the United States, the University of Maryland (UMD) offers the only ABET-accredited B.S. degree program in Fire Protection Engineering, as well as graduate degrees and a distance M.Eng. program. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) offers a M.S. and a Ph.D. in Fire Protection Engineering. Oklahoma State University offers a B.S. in Fire Protection and Safety Technology. Other institutions, such as the University of Kansas, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley, and nowrap|University of Houston–Downtown have offered courses in Fire Protection Engineering or technology.

In Europe, the University of Edinburgh has been among the first universities to offer a degree in Fire Engineering and had its first research group in fire in the 1970's (these activities are now conducted at the new BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering). Other European Universities active in the fire engineering are
Lund University, Stord/Haugesund University College, University of Central Lancashire, University of Manchester, University of Ulster, University of Leeds, University of Greenwich and London South Bank University.

Professional registration

Suitably qualified and experienced fire protection engineers may qualify for registration as a professional engineer. The recognition of fire protection engineering as a separate discipline varies from state to state in the United States. Few countries outside the United States regulate the professional practice of fire protection engineering as a discipline, although they may restrict the use of the title engineer in association with its practice.

The titles "fire engineer" and "fire safety engineer" tend to be preferred outside the United States, especially in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries influenced by the British fire service. Some proponents of the title "fire safety engineer" assert that the title "fire protection engineer" suggests a concern only with the design of active fire protection systems, such as automatic fire sprinklers, fire detection, fire alarm systems, smoke management systems, gaseous fire suppression and other special hazard systems. The advocates of the title "fire safety engineer" suggest it more accurately indicates an interest in both preventive and protective measures. Those who prefer the title "fire engineer" suggest that it encompasses a broader range of professional activities associated with fire risk management, including the management of fire services. All titles are widely recognised. The Institution of Fire Engineers is one international organization that qualifies many aspects of the training and qualifications of fire engineers. [ [ Institution of Fire Engineers web, home page (accessed 16 Oct 07)] ]

See also

* Fire protection
* Active fire protection
* Passive fire protection
* Institution of Fire Engineers
* Listing and approval use and compliance
* Product certification
* Architecture
* Architectural engineering
* Civil engineering
* Mechanical engineering


External links

* [ Institution of Fire Engineers]
* [ Institute of Fire Prevention Officers]
* [ International Association for Fire Safety Science]
* [ Society of Fire Protection Engineers]
* [ National Fire Protection Association]
* [ University of Maryland]
* [ Worcester Polytechnic Institute]
* [ University of Canterbury (New Zealand)]
* [ Australia Society of Fire Engineers]
* [ BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering at The University of Edinburgh]
* [ One Stop Shop in Structural Fire Engineering, University of Manchester]
* [ University of Ulster]
* [ London South Bank University]
* [ VTT]
* [ University of Greenwich]
* [ University of Leeds]

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