There are two traditional paths to becoming a fire protections engineer. Since a formal education in fire protection engineering is rare, many mechanical engineers have picked up the torch and tacked fire protection on top of their current expertise. As fire protection engineering continued to develop, knowledge accrued and the need for specialized expertise became more apparent.

By the early 80’s, a few technical colleges around the United States began to lay the foundations for modern fire protection engineering education and training. So while mechanical engineers that do fire protection engineering are still around, those with formal training have superseded their predecessors. Today, fire protection engineering has solidified it’s position among the construction industry, but finding adequate expertise can still be a challenge.

Using Local Resources

Even for Harrington Group, finding the right person to fill the growing demand for fire protection engineering was proving to be difficult, so we decided to think outside the box and look for alternative ways to help us with our dilemma.

To tap into young talent with the potential for development, we used a local resource, Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech often tops the rankings for engineering, but does not have a specialized fire protection engineering degree program that can directly help us in our hunt for our next engineering consultant. We decided to take an indirect route in finding the next Harrington Group fire protection engineer.

In our experience, we have found that some of the best fire protection engineers come from a background of mechanical, chemical, electrical or structural engineering studies. To target the these students, we attended a virtual career fair hosted by Georgia Tech, had online chats with countless recent grads, and ultimately, offered the position to Robert McFeaters, a 2010 Georgia Tech graduate with a BS in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Most importantly, Robert had an affinity to learn more about fire science. He accepted our offer and started with Harrington Group on September 1st. Robert’s path to becoming a FPE will help reveal the meaning of what it means to be a true FPE.

By Jeff Harrington, CEO and Founder of Harrington Group, Inc.