SFPE has developed a clearly defined and globally applicable set of recommended minimum technical core competencies for the practice of fire protection engineering. Globally, protecting people and property from fire events is a challenge. Those who specialize in fire protection engineering must have a base level of knowledge and experience in order to appropriately reduce the negative impacts from unwanted fire incidents.
SFPE has developed the “Recommended Minimum Technical Core Competencies for the Practice of Fire Protection Engineering” for the global profession. This is the first time that SFPE has documented the minimum knowledge, skills, and experience a professional needs to qualify as a fire protection engineer.
We recognize that there are other terms used for fire protection engineering such as fire safety engineering or fire engineering. The focus of this document is to create a basis where engineers working with fire safety and fire protection can show they are competent in the field of practice. This is especially true when a jurisdiction does not have a formalized process to govern someone using the term engineer or specifically fire protection engineer.
During the development of these competencies, SFPE carefully examined many of the existing frameworks for competencies, credentialing, and other regulations related to the governance of someone being a fire protection engineer. Much of the underlying information on the subject matter in the descriptions available were similar. From this, four categories of subject matter were created – fire science, human behavior and evacuation, fire protection systems, and fire protection analysis. The details for each of these areas stirred much conversation in the fire protection industry not only amongst the Society's members but during the public comment period once the draft was released.
The feedback from the public comment period was instrumental in helping SFPE produce the official core competencies that were ultimately approved by the SFPE Board of Directors. These technical core competencies now clearly convey the need for both education and practice for someone to achieve competency in the subject areas. A note for this document is that an engineering foundation is assumed, and the information provided is specific to the fire protection engineering component of someone’s knowledge and practice.
In addition, it is recognized that university study in fire protection is the most direct path to achieving competency, but not every subject in the document may be covered at the level necessary for competency by a single university course/program. The CPQ Subcommittee on Higher Education has published recommended model curricula for a bachelor’s degree in fire protection engineering, a bachelor’s degree in fire protection engineering technology, and a master’s degree in fire protection engineering. However, additional study and practice may be needed for certain subjects in order to reach a competent level.
Lastly, it is important to understand that this document is detailing the minimum core competencies. Many practitioners eventually develop expertise in a few areas that are part of the core competencies. However, a minimum level of knowledge for all of the areas listed is deemed necessary so that the fire protection engineering that is performed has a solid foundation of essentials. Also, continuing education throughout a professional’s career is important to ensure that new data and technology are properly incorporated into fire protection engineering.
The fire protection industry works to improve public health, safety, and welfare related to fire events. Ensuring that professionals who perform fire protection engineering meet the minimum core competencies will raise the bar for the industry and assist in engineering a fire-safe world.