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Incorporated Engineer (IEng)

Alison Scott BEng (Hons) IEng MIFireE

Published: 01/11/2022

Education and qualifications:
BEng (Hons) Fire Risk Engineering, Glasgow Caledonian University

Job title:
Watch Commander / Fire Engineer

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
Being in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and in the Fire Safety and Enforcement department, I felt this was a new challenge and the next step in expanding my fire safety experience and education.

Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
As a Fire Engineer in SFRS, I am part of a national statutory consultation process between Scottish Building Standards and the Fire Service. I review strategies and plans of buildings that, in some aspect, do not comply with the Scottish Technical Handbooks.

Can you describe a typical working day?
Working in the SFRS covering the East and North of Scotland, I can get projects anywhere from the Scottish Borders to the Shetland Islands. I receive plans and fire engineering strategies from fire engineers, architects and Building Standards, and review these strategies against the Scottish Technical Handbooks and the relevant British Standards. I then report any findings or issues to the local Building Standards Office. Depending on what issues arise, I could liaise with fire engineers, architects, developers or Building Standards officers to discuss the findings and come to a successful conclusion.

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
Unfortunately, I sometimes find that the guidance and regulations do not keep up with the pace of innovation and new products being proposed. This can cause issues with some products where compliance with Standards is vague. For example, intumescent products that increase fire resistance, or new water mist systems that are out, but that don’t fully comply with the British Standard.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
One thing I enjoy most is when I see changes and developments taking place in the built environment which I have been involved in.

Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
Achieving a First-Class Honours Degree later in life, while balancing home life and a full-time job is an achievement I never thought I would be able to attain. I’m very proud of that accomplishment and achieving professional registration as an Incorporated Engineer (IEng).

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
Being in the Fire Service, I worked towards being a Member of the Institute of Fire Engineers (IFE) while in the Fire Safety and Enforcement Department. After the Grenfell Tower fire, some of the highlighted recommendations that arose were regarding the qualifications and competencies of those within the fire industry. I felt that I had the qualifications and experience to become registered as an IEng and that this would be recognised in the fire sector as demonstrating my level of knowledge and competence.

In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
I think when other professionals see that I am a member of the IFE and an IEng, there is an acknowledgement of the work I have undertaken and the knowledge and competence I have achieved.

How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
SFRS continuously strive to maintain an excellent reputation and invest in their personnel. Being able to demonstrate and support links with professional bodies adds to this.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
It is worth the hard work. Keep an updated Continuing Professional Development (CPD) log and when writing up your personal review report make sure you cover all the steps you have taken to achieve your goals and achievements.

Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
I still see myself as an officer in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in five years time, hopefully in a higher role than I am at present. If a higher role in the Fire Engineering Department were to become available, it would definitely be a position I would like to progress to.