Categories: Featured News
Tags: SFPE

SFPE: Engineering a fire-safe world

Share this content


SFPE Professional Qualifications Manager, Glynis Thompson, PE, discusses the core competencies in fire protection engineering to drive fire safety innovations

The Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) continues its ambitious journey to establish the recommended minimum technical core competencies for the practice of fire protection engineering in support of its mission to define, develop, and advance engineering best practices; expand the scientific and technical knowledge base; and educate the global fire safety community to effectively reduce fire risk.

A critical part of this endeavour has been the comprehensive definition of core competencies deemed essential for the profession of fire protection engineering.

These four areas of expertise are Fire Science, Human Behaviour and Evacuation, Fire Protection Systems and Fire Protection Analysis.

Fire Science

This competency entails a comprehensive understanding of the underlying physical principles of fire and its related mechanisms, including the principles of ignition, combustion, heat transfer, mass transfer, fire chemistry, and fire dynamics.

Human Behaviour and Evacuation

This area requires a comprehensive understanding of human behaviour and the principles of means of egress design. It includes knowledge about the behaviour of people during an emergency, different design approaches, and tools and methods to perform egress, evacuation, and escape assessments.

Fire Protection Systems

This competency focuses on a comprehensive understanding of fire mitigation, including water- and non-water-based suppression; fire detection and alarm systems; smoke management systems; passive systems; fire testing; and code and standard concerns.

Fire Protection Analysis

This area necessitates a comprehensive understanding of the principles of technical analysis related to fire protection design.

It includes identifying and quantifying fire-related risks and hazards, design approaches, concepts for evaluating design options, application of numerical methods and computer fire models, establishing boundary conditions, and the limits of analysis and design.

Acknowledging the vast landscape and diversity of areas in the field of fire protection engineering, the Society is working now to define the scope of seventeen specific roles from these core competencies, covering the global relevance and the potential impact of our discipline, offering opportunities to those dedicated to safeguarding life, property, and the environment from fire-related devastation.

This process is ongoing now; participation and feedback is welcomed.

Additionally, SFPE is working to continually develop educational content to support fire protection engineers seeking to increase their competency across many of these roles. 

Three major in-person educational events planned for the coming months include the SFPE Engineering Solutions Symposium for Mass Timber, August 24-25, in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada; the SFPE Annual Conference & Expo, October 8-12, in Washington DC/Bethesda; and the SFPE Engineering Solutions Symposium for Fire Safety and Sustainable Building Design, in partnership with FRISSBE, November 29-30, in Ljubljana, Slovenia. 

Learn more about these events and SFPE’s efforts to increase competency at I welcome your feedback and participation – contact me at [email protected].

Glynis Thompson, PE, is the SFPE Professional Qualifications Manager; Glynis leads the Society’s efforts on competencies, credentialing, model curriculum, position statements, the Women in Fire Protection Engineering group, and more. 

About the SFPE

The Society of Fire Protection Engineers has been engineering a fire-safe world since 1950. Headquartered near Washington, DC, and in Brussels, Belgium, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers is the world’s leading professional society for fire protection/fire safety engineering.

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

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox