Maintaining a supply

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The built environment is becoming more complex and the need to ensure that life safety remains at the forefront of design, so are we doing enough to attract the next generation of fire engineers? By Duncan J. White

With the number of qualified fire engineers at an all-time low serious thought is needed to explore how we attract young people to consider a career in fire engineering.

Changes in legislation since the Grenfell tragedy has seen an increase demand for their services, both in the public and private sector, with the shortage of skilled fire engineers causing a huge backlog and it doesn’t seem that it is likely to get better any time soon.

I suppose my first thought is how many young people know anything about the role of a fire engineer, where to get the relevant qualifications and who would employ you once qualified?

So, what needs to be done?

Educational outreach

Collaborate with schools, colleges, and universities to promote fire engineering as a career choice.

Offer presentations, workshops, or career fairs to introduce students to the field.

Emphasise the exciting aspects of the profession, such as the opportunity to save lives, to start a career with a broad range of future opportunities, work with advanced technologies, and make a positive impact on communities.

Highlight the importance and impact

Educate young people about the critical role that fire engineers play in ensuring public safety. Showcase real-life examples of fire engineers’ contributions to fire prevention, building design, risk assessment, and emergency response. Help them understand how their work can directly impact the well-being of individuals and communities.

Mentorship programmes

Establish mentorship programs where aspiring fire engineers can connect with experienced professionals in the field.

This provides guidance, support, and an opportunity to learn from those already established in the industry.

Mentorship can help young people navigate educational choices, gain insights into the profession, and receive career advice.

Internship and co-op programmes

Offer internships or co-op programs to provide hands-on experience for students interested in fire engineering.

Partner with educational institutions to create structured programs that allow students to apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios.

This practical exposure can ignite their passion for the field and help them make informed career decisions.

Scholarships and financial support

Provide scholarships or financial assistance specifically for students pursuing fire engineering degrees.

Financial support can alleviate the burden of education costs and attract young people who may be hesitant due to concerns of future financial burdens and constraints.

Collaborate with industry organisations or foundations to create scholarship opportunities.

Engage with professional associations

Collaborate with fire engineering professional associations and organisations to engage young people.

Support initiatives such as student groups, mentorship programs, and networking events aimed at connecting aspiring fire engineers with industry professionals.

Actively participate in career fairs and industry conferences where students can learn about the profession firsthand.

Actively invite prospective students to trade shows and identify role models who are willing to use their experiences to attract others.

Emphasise technological advancements

Highlight the use of advanced technologies and software in the field of fire engineering.

Showcase how fire engineers utilise cutting-edge tools for fire modelling, simulation, risk assessment, and building design.

Young people are often drawn to careers that involve innovation and technology, so emphasising these aspects can make the profession more appealing.

Remember, attracting young people to become fire engineers requires proactive outreach, education, and engagement.

By showcasing the importance and impact of the profession, offering practical experiences, and providing mentorship and financial support, you can inspire the next generation of fire engineers and ensure a steady influx of talent into the field.

This exclusive article was originally published in the August 2023 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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