About Fire Protection Engineering

What is a Fire Protection Engineer?

As noted at the website of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers: Fire protection engineers use science and technology to protect people, property and businesses from destructive fires. They analyze how buildings are used, how fires start, how fires grow, and how fire and smoke affects people, buildings and property.

Fire protection engineers use the latest technologies to:

Design systems that control fires, alert people to danger and provide means for escape
Evaluate buildings to pinpoint the risks of fires and the means to prevent them
Conduct fire safety research on consumer products and construction materials
Investigate fires to discover how fire spreads, why protective measures failed, and how those measures could have been designed more effectively

Fire protection engineers work with architects and other engineers, state and local building officials and local fire departments to build and maintain fire safe communities. They make recommendations for cost effective fire protection solutions to ensure that the structure is adequately protected, along with the property and occupants contained within

How do I become a Fire Protection Engineer?

Become Licensed

Because FPEs are always dealing with issues related to public safety and welfare, it is important for FPEs to become licensed as Professional Engineers in the jurisdictions where they practice. To become a registered Professional Engineer, it is necessary to gain experience under the supervision of another Professional Engineer after completing the educational requirements for registration. It is also necessary to pass a Fundamentals of Engineering exam and a Principles and Practice of Engineering exam to demonstrate that you are qualified to practice as a Professional Engineer in your chosen discipline. One of the primary goals of the FPE program at Cal Poly is to prepare students to become Professional Engineers in the FPE discipline.


Fire protection engineering is an important learned profession. Many FPEs start their careers in other technical disciplines and then their job responsibilities bring them into the profession, where they learn about the profession through on-the-job training and experience. Today, more and more FPEs are educated within the discipline at one of the universities that offer degree programs in FPE. With distance education programs in FPE now available, working professionals, particularly those educated in other disciplines, can return to school to enhance their skills and qualifications within the field of FPE while continuing with their professional careers.