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|How to Start an SFPE Chapter|
Chapters are a valued part of the society and advancing our mission. It is where fire protection engineers and other professionals in the fire protection profession network to learn, share knowledge and grow understanding of the profession. As a global society we welcome interested groups of fire protection engineers to gather in new areas to form chapters.
What Is a Chapter?
SFPE Chapters are comprised of local area fire protection engineers and in many cases other fire protection professionals. This is because many SFPE chapters are the meeting place for all interested fire protection professionals including code enforcement officials, fire service and others depending upon local interests and needs. Ultimately the composition of members is a local decision. Chapters typically meet monthly for part of the year and the most common element of these meetings is a technical presentation. Chapters also have social events like dinners, golf outings, etc. Some chapters also raise funds or donate time to local charities or the SFPE Educational & Scientific Foundation. For more information about a chapters and their activities we recommend reading the SFPE paper Profile of the SFPE Chapter.
The process is fairly straightforward. The first step is to hold a informal meeting of interested professionals to gauge interest in forming a chapter. Typically a group needs a core of 8 to 10 volunteers to launch a chapter. If the group agrees to participate in the effort, you are well on your way to forming a SFPE Chapter. In the long terms we recommend chapters have at least 20 to 30 members to sustain the program, but a smaller group is fine to get the chapter started.
The next step is to identify officers. The key positions are President, President elect, Secretary and Treasurer. After the chapter is fully operational these positions are typically voted on my the chapter membership. The first leaders can be self selected and confirmed by the group. Once this group is selected the next step is to create a chapter constitution. It is fairly straight forward using the SFPE Template Model Constitution or a SFPE Student Chapter Template Model Constitution. Once ready the chapter constitution is forwarded to SFPE International via email care of the SFPE Membership Manager.
There are a number of resources available to help fire protection engineers with the process of starting a chapter.