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Chartered Engineer (CEng)

Michael Clifford BEng (Hons) MSc CEng FIFireE CPEng MIPENZ FCABE

Published: 18/12/2017

Michael Clifford CEng - 300x352 Education and qualifications: BEng (Hons) in Fire Engineering, MSc in Fire Safety Engineering
Which institutions are you a member of? Institution of Fire Engineers (FIFireE), Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (MIPENZ), Chartered Association of Building Engineers (FCABE)
Current job title: Senior Fire Engineer
Company: CoveKinloch New Zealand Ltd
Length in current job: 2 years 9 months
Approximately how many staff are employed by your company?  Between 40 and 50 people
Where are you based? Auckland, New Zealand 

Please describe your current role:
My responsibilities as the company Senior Fire Engineer include managing the Fire Team and being the lead for all fire engineering and fire design. I provide specialist fire advice to the various disciplines within the company, across the head office and three regional offices. 

As part of my role I provide clients with fire engineering design reports for building consent. This includes Building Act and Regulatory compliance; specialist advice on passive fire stopping and systems; complex fire modelling; fire protection system specification; fire safety strategy and review; fire engineering cost benefit analysis and fire safety risk assessments, among other services. 

Please provide a brief outline of your career so far:
I had a diverse career in the Naval Air Command Fire Service (Royal Navy) spanning 24 years, in which I progressed to the equivalent level of an Assistant Divisional Officer. In 2003 I left the Royal Navy and for 13 years ran my own consultancy practice specialising in fire safety and engineering consultancy. 

Whilst in private practice I undertook the BEng (Hons) Fire Engineering undergraduate degree followed by the MSc postgraduate degree in Fire Safety Engineering at the University of Central Lancashire, which I completed on a six year block study arrangement. Throughout my studies I was able to immediately use my new found knowledge in my work. 

In 2011 I made the decision to work towards professional registration as an Incorporated Engineer (IEng). I found this a very robust process and with the support of my referees and good advice from the team at IFE, I achieved registration in May 2012. This outcome meant a great deal to myself, as a group of my peers had assessed that I was currently utilising my skills at the correct level at that time as a practising fire engineer. Additionally, this professional status allowed me to be recognised within the industry and highlighted my value to my current and prospective employers. 

Have you worked on any unusual or high profile projects?
Over the years I have carried out fire safety works on a number of high profile buildings including the Olympic Park and other temporary stadia for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This involved completing detailed fire risk assessments on the venues initially on plan to provide advice on design and other requirements and then once completed, fire risk assessments for game days. In addition, it involved trouble-shooting on-site when perhaps, for example, the contractors had placed a structure too close to an adjoining stand – so some very varied problems to solve in very tight time constraints. Other premises I have worked on include nuclear and military establishments, research sites, offices, shops, factories, laboratories, museums, residential flats and care homes, schools, universities, NHS health centres, hospitals and clinics.

What attracted you to become registered as a CEng?
I recognise the value of professional registration and was already an Incorporated Engineer (IEng), having gained IEng registration in May 2012. But my goal was always to become a Chartered Engineer to demonstrate my expertise and commitment to fire engineering. It provides assurance to my peers and clients that I not only conduct myself in a professional and ethical manner but also that I have been independently reviewed and assessed as meeting an internationally recognised standard of competence. 

How did you become registered as a CEng?
I submitted my application and was advised by IFE that my degrees met the academic requirements for registration as a CEng. All that was left for me to do was to demonstrate that I met the competences and commitments set out in the Engineering Council’s standard, UK-SPEC. 

The IFE’s membership team provided advice and support by allocating me a mentor who provided me with advice on the style and detail of content required for my Professional Review Report. The IFE team kept me informed throughout the process, which I found to be seamless. 

How has professional registration as a CEng benefitted your career?
Having the letters CEng after my name demonstrates to colleagues, peers, clients and other external organisations that I have undertaken an independent assessment of my competence and that I am committed to my profession. 

What advice would you give someone considering professional registration as a CEng?
Discuss the benefits and process with colleagues who have been through it to gain a good understanding of what is required. If possible, link up with a mentor who will be a source of valuable information and support. Do complete your application form diligently, ensuring that you detail all relevant information about yourself so that it validates your capabilities. 

What are your future goals?
To remain in the industry and provide a first-class service to my clients whilst maintaining my competence through continuing professional development (CPD). I will also assist colleagues with their development goals. 

What is your employer’s attitude towards registration? 
The directors and managers at CoveKinloch are exceptionally supportive to any employee who wishes to progress their current competence levels. They are acutely aware of the value of professional registration. 

How does your organisation benefit from you being professionally registered as a CEng?
Being professionally registered gives confidence to clients, both old and new, that I am competent to complete my role as a Senior Fire Engineer. In addition, it demonstrates that the company supports career development and professional recognition for its staff. 


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