How to Become a Fire Protection Engineer – Requirements and Salary Range

Fire Protection Engineers are the professionals who design architectural structures and implement solutions for lowering the risks of fire in properties and buildings. Basically, they take measures to save lives before incidences of fires take place. These professionals may work in several industries, including insurance, research, consulting, and manufacturing.

Skills Required for Becoming a Fire Protection Engineer

  • Physically capable and fit
  • Communication skills
  • Good analytical skills
  • Ability to solve problems
  • Multi-tasking abilities
  • Ability to do research and apply work techniques

Procedure to Become a Fire Protection Engineer

Here is the stepwise procedure to become a Fire Protection Engineer:

Step 1 – Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

Aspirants are supposed to have a bachelor’s degree in fire science or any other related engineering program that must be recognized by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

Step 2 – Qualify the FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) Test

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, aspirants must appear for and pass the FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) test which is conducted by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. The test comprises 180 multiple-choice questions. However, it is not mandatory to take this exam; it opens various career opportunities for candidates.

Step 3 – Join a Firefighting Academy to Gain Hands-on Work Experience

You need hands-on experience to become a Fire Protection Engineer. For obtaining a professional license, you must have at least 4 years of work experience that can be obtained at a local firefighting academy. You may work under the supervision of a professional engineer.

Step 4 – Get a License

It is not obligatory for the aspirants to obtain a license to work as a fire protection engineer; however, it brightens your career prospects and opens doors to several career opportunities. For getting the license, you must qualify the FE exam as mentioned above. After that, you are eligible to apply for the licensure from the state where you want to work.

Step 5 – Undergo Continuing Education to Advance Your Career

As the field of fire science is always changing, the professionals in this field are expected to stay acquainted with these changes. That is why; they must undergo continuing education to gain new skills and stay up-to-date. If you want to assume more challenging roles in the industry, you may consider pursuing a Master’s degree in fire science.

Fire Protection Engineering Training

Aspirants who want to become a Fire Protection Engineer are required to complete a degree program/training that is accredited by the ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). The topics covered in the fire protection engineering training program include fire dynamics and modeling, fire detection, protection and safety techniques, psychology of humans during emergencies, assessment methods, risk analysis, fire barriers, smoke management, etc.

The training is divided into intensive classroom studies and field exercise to put your theoretical knowledge in real-work scenarios. During training, you learn to analyze local or state trends in code compliance, apply impartial integrity in ascertaining that buildings are abided by safety regulations and codes, use computer to evaluate findings, compile data on fire retardants, the relationship between building materials and ignition sources, etc. Besides this, you gain knowledge about legal procedures and provide impartial legal testimony.

Education Requirements

Following are some of the basic requirements that candidates are expected to fulfill:

  • The minimum age for enrollment in training programs is 18 years.
  • Bachelor’s degree in fire science engineering or related field
  • Fire engineering candidates must know about mechanical engineering, chemistry, physics, construction and building, and mathematics.
  • A minimum of four years experience in fire protection and other related fields.
  • Some states may require you to have a professional engineering license.

Fire Protection Engineer Certification

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) offers certification to the aspirants to provide professional recognition and document their competency in minimizing the fire loss. Till now, the NFPA has awarded this certificate to more than 4,000 people, including facility managers, fire inspectors, fire marshals, fire officers, code enforcers, fire protection consultants, etc., who have exhibited their professionalism through education, work experience, and successfully qualifying the certification examination.

Requirements to Appear for the CFPS Examination

To become certified, candidates will have to pass the CFPS (Certified Fire Protection Specialist) examination. Any of the following criteria must be fulfilled by the aspirants to be eligible for taking this exam:

  1. Candidates must have a diploma in high school or GED or equivalent along with 6 years of work experience in reducing the fire loss, both financial and physical.
  2. The aspirant must have an associate’s degree in Fire Protection Technology, Fire Service Administration, Fire Science or related stream from a recognized university or college, both financial and physical. Alternatively, you must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in an unrelated discipline along with 4 years of work experience in reducing the fire loss.
  3. The candidate is supposed to have bachelor’s or master’s degree in Fire Protection Engineering, Fire Protection Technology, Fire Science, Fire Service Administration or related discipline from a recognized university or college as well as 2 years of work experience in reducing the fire loss, both financial and physical.

The CFPS Examination

The CFPS exam comprises 100 multiple choice questions that need to be completed in 3 hours. The CFPS Department of the NFPA prepares the content of the exam. The exam measures the level of knowledge of candidates, and the questions are generally related to currently practiced skills in the field of fire safety and protection. To qualify the examination, students must obtain a minimum scaled score of 70 questions.

The CPS exam is available in the following 2 formats:

1. Paper and Pencil

The application for this test format must be submitted at least 4 weeks before the scheduled exam date. After review of your application, you will get an exam notification letter via email approximately 10 days before your exam date. If you do not receive the exam notification letter 7 days before your scheduled test date, touch base with the CFPS administrative office.

2. Computer-Based

The NFPA conducts computer-based CFPS exam through SMT (Schroeder Measurement Technologies). The exam is organized at more than 200 assessment centers worldwide. Once your application and exam fee is submitted, you will receive an authorization letter containing instructions on how to schedule the exam. You will be notified of the rescheduling/cancellation of exam date via email.

Recertification

Candidates are required to get recertified after every 3 years in order to keep their CFPS certificate active. CFPS certified professionals must showcase their continuous participation in professional development activities in the field of fire protection and must obtain at least 50 points. Candidates are supposed to return the Summary of Recertification Points Form attesting that they have obtained 50-recertification points.

If you want to extend your recertification due date up to 1 year, you will have to submit a written request to the NFPA Director of Certification. If your request is approved, the next recertification cycle will get shortened by one year. Thus, 50 recertification points will be required for the next recertification of 2 years.

For more detailed information on certification, click the below link:

https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/Training/certification/CFPS/CFPSHandbook.ashx?la=en

Fire Protection Engineer Salary

The salary of these professionals varies in different states of the US. They may get different salaries in different cities of the same state. Salary depends on the education level, advanced certifications, employer, work experience, and many other factors.

As of 31 October 2018, the annual salary of fire protection engineers was between $55,569 and $68,258 while the average salary was $57,698 per annum (according to salary.com). The total compensation, including retirement benefits, health insurance, and bonus, ranged between $58,332 and $71,273. The average total compensation was $62,312.

According to payscale.com, as of 8 November 2018, fire protection engineers earned an average salary of $85,552 in Atlanta (Georgia), $75,216 in Chicago (Illinois), and $93,488 in Washington.

Fire Protection Engineering Jobs

As per the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, Fire Protection Engineers are the professionals with work experience in firefighting, post-secondary expertise, and field experience. By pursuing a master’s degree in fire science and obtaining certification, aspirants can advance in their career. These professionals may get employment in companies that specialize in environmental issues, construction, engineering, and architecture. The similar job titles to Fire Protection Engineers are Fire Inspector Supervisor, Fire Inspector, Fire Fighter, Fire Sprinkler Engineer, and Fire Captain.