Today the profession of Fire Engineering encompasses topics such as:
- Mechanics of ignition of fuel/air mixtures
- Chemistry of reactions within a flame
- Inhibition of combustion
- Use of electricity in flammable atmospheres
- Structural fire protection of buildings
- Design of fire detection and alarm systems, fire appliances, sprinklers and other automatic fire fighting systems
- Professional fire fighting
- Operational command in the fire service
- Hazard assessment of industrial plant and chemicals
- Arson investigation
- Fire insure, etc.
Psychology and Physiology
- Behavior pattern of persons faced with emergencies (e.g., their reaction to alarms)
- Design of escape routes
- Reaction to stress and its mitigation
- Emergency planning
- Cost/benefit analysis and management
- Fire engineering management
- Financial control
- motivation of staff, etc.
- Drafting, implementation and enforcement of fire safety legislation
- Litigation arising from fires (e.g., acting as an expert witness in both civil and criminal cases), etc.
Because of this wide span of knowledge, Fire Engineers need to be flexible and several different levels and types of expertise are required. Fire Engineers may, originally, have qualified in some other branch of science or engineering or, perhaps, in an apparently unrelated subject such as law. Four years professional practice related to fire engineering, assessed by the Membership Committee, may allow entry to the Associate grade of membership. Alternatively, Fire Engineers may qualify at three different levels through the annual examinations of the Institution or through suitably validated courses and, if desired, proceed to a degree in Fire Engineering by following a university degree course. One of those degrees has already been accredited as fulfilling the academic requirements for Chartered Engineering status. It is hoped future Fire Engineers will be recognized as Chartered Engineers, incorporated Engineers or Engineering Technicians as members of the Institution of Fire Engineers.