Demand Smokin' for Fire Protection Engineers

BETHESDA, MD -- One profession has been left unscathed by the economic slowdown of the past few years: fire protection engineering.

Using science and technology, fire protection engineers analyze how buildings are used, how fires start, how fire grows, and how fire and smoke affect people, buildings and property. They apply their considerable skills with the aim of protecting people, property and businesses from the ravaging effects of fire.

For the past several years, the demand for fire protection engineers has far outpaced the number of people qualified to fill the positions.

A recent survey by the Bethesda, MD-based Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) of the largest employers of fire protection engineers found that an overwhelming majority currently have difficulty recruiting enough qualified engineers, and all forecast continuing recruitment problems in the next 12 months and beyond.

"The demand for fire protection engineers consistently exceeds the annual supply of graduates," says George Toth, executive vice president of Chicago-based RJA Group, a leading fire protection consulting firm. "There are simply not enough graduates to go around."

Even with an average starting salary of $47,000 and an industry-wide mean of $85,000, knowledgeable fire protection engineers are hard to come by.

To combat the labor shortage and increase the number of people entering the profession, SFPE has begun efforts to reach high school and college students nationwide.

At the core of the program is the launch of a new Web site,, which has already won acclaim for its effectiveness in delivering its message to students.

The Web site offers students the chance to explore different career paths within the fire protection engineering profession, learn about the best way to enter the field, and discover the benefits of working in an industry where they can make a real difference.