Fire Protection Engineering magazine was first published in 1998. The first issue was simply called the "premier issue” because we were not yet ready to commit to a regular publication schedule. The second issue was published in spring, 1999, and the magazine has been a quarterly ever since.

The magazine was launched in response to widespread dissatisfaction among SFPE members with SFPE’s periodicals. During a series of regional meetings that were conducted in 1997 and 1998 to gauge member satisfaction, a common refrain was that SFPE published two periodicals (the Bulletin and the Journal of Fire Protection Engineering), and most members read neither of them.

Members were hungry for a publication that provided information that they could use in their dayto- day work. The SFPE board of directors decided to launch a magazine, with a goal of simply breaking even financially. The magazine would contain practice oriented articles and provide information that fire protection engineers could use in their daily practice. To avoid creating another Bulletin, the magazine would avoid "member news”; instead this type of information would be published in a separate newsletter.

SFPE’s executive director at the time, Kathleen Almand, handled matters associated with publishing the magazine. Having recently been hired as the technical director, the content was delegated to me. An editorial advisory board was created to identify editorial themes, potential articles and authors, and review the articles prior to publication. We hired a freelancer, Bob James, to handle matters that were outside of our skill sets.

I was assigned the role of "Technical Editor” for the new magazine. As a relatively young fire protection engineer, I knew nothing about being the editor for a magazine. I simply decided to publish articles that I would like to read – a principle that has guided me for the last 17 years. Having previously written articles for other magazines, I was upset when an editor badgered me for graphics to include with an article that I had written. So, another guiding principle was that I would never shake-down an author for images. We would use images that were voluntarily provided, and if we felt additional graphics were needed, we would find them on our own.

Following the first year of publication, we partnered with Penton Media. When we launched the magazine, we didn’t think that we could afford a turnkey publisher like Penton, but we were pleasantly surprised by their offer when we approached them. In addition to handling publication of the print magazine, Penton has always ensured that the magazine reflected the state of the art in publishing and presentation. They proposed a website where the magazine’s content would be archived, and they proposed deploying articles exclusively online to generate traffic to the website. More recently, Penton has assisted us with creating a jobs board and sponsored webinar program.

While we outsourced publishing duties, we have always maintained strict editorial control. Fire Protection Engineering magazine quickly developed a loyal following, and we were unwilling to do anything that could damage that. I continued as the Technical Editor and, while some names have changed, the Editorial Advisory Board remained in place.

An artifact of the loyal readership of Fire Protection Engineering magazine was that we became popular with advertisers. Advertisers wanted to reach our readers, and they found that our magazine was a very efficient way to get their messages in front of people who influence buying decisions of their products. We quickly surpassed the SFPE board of director’s goal of breaking even, and the magazine and ancillary products now serve as a reliable source of non-dues revenue for the association.

This will be my last issue as the technical editor. I have no doubt that the magazine will continue to be a valuable resource for readers and advertisers alike.