Education and qualifications:
SFJ Level 5 Certificate in Fire Investigation
Professional Certificate in Fire Investigation – University Central Lancashire
BEng (Hons) Fire Engineering (First Class) - University of Central Lancashire
Professional Certificate in Incident Command in Fire and Rescue Services
Bond Solon Advanced Professional Certificate in Investigative Practice
Professional Certificate in Fire Safety and Building Design (Building Regulations and Complex Buildings)
- Job title: Head of Fire Compliance
Employer: Balfour Beatty
What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
While working in the Fire and Rescue Service within the fire protection department, I had the opportunity on several occasions to engage with fire engineers on various projects. I developed an appreciation for the broad expanse of knowledge that fire engineers have and decided that I wanted to expand on the basis of fire safety knowledge that the Fire and Rescue Service had provided for me.
Being an engineer also satisfies my inquisitive mind. I knew that becoming an engineer would provide me with opportunities to be involved from concept to delivery of projects and be part of a team involved in ensuring that current buildings are safer.
Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
I currently work as Head of Fire Compliance. This role provides me with the opportunity to steer the development of fire engineering within Balfour Beatty. Projects that I am involved with are challenging as professional expertise is required and accuracy and detail are paramount.
Can you describe a typical working day?
Not many of my days are typical. The projects I tend to be involved with provide new and challenging issues constantly. Most recently, most of my projects have involved assessing building construction internally and externally, including external wall facades.
The work has involved site visits to a broad range of building types, identifying issues, advising clients, then subsequently reviewing and monitoring contractors’ installations with regards to construction, workmanship and compliance. These visits are followed by office work, writing and presenting concise informative reports and plans.
Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
Due to the wide range of building types and projects I work on, coupled with the fast-changing environment of fire engineering and fire safety, there are constant challenges that require constant learning. However, one of the most challenging problems I face is to advise on remediation of fire protection arrangements and installations in existing buildings where access can be extremely difficult.
What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
I enjoy the challenges my role presents - having to research and on occasions think ‘outside the box’ to achieve satisfactory outcomes. In addition to this, I enjoy my office working environment where I am constantly learning from peers or assisting colleagues on projects. I have found Balfour Beatty to be a very learning-orientated environment with a proactive stance to improve fire safety regulation across the construction sector. Being a part of this team and working ethos makes my job satisfying and enjoyable.
Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
During my Fire Service career I had many occasions where I was proud of what I achieved, from saving lives in fires or car accidents, to passing relevant courses such as fire investigation and incident command. However, achieving the BEng with First Class Honours whilst balancing work, study and home life is one of my proudest achievements and of course being accepted as an Incorporated Engineer (IEng) is most definitely one of my highlights.
What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
Being a part of the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) and gaining professional registration provides me with the confidence to continue to challenge myself. Gaining professional registration demonstrates that I have reached a standard that is acknowledged by my peers and provides clients with confidence in my professionalism.
In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
Having the post-nominals IEng and MIFireE after my name demonstrates to colleagues, peers, clients, and external organisations that I have undertaken an independent assessment of my competence and that I am committed to my profession.
How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
My company has seen my professional registration as a huge benefit and supported me throughout. It demonstrates my competence and commitment both internally and to clients that I have satisfied a rigorous assessment of my engineering competence. It also provides Tenos creditability in that it employs the highest standard of engineers.
Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
Do it! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I would say though, being organised and planning ahead helps, keep your Continuing Professional Development (CPD) up to date and make sure you write down your involvement in projects as they occur. Also, do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it from someone that has been through the process.
Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
I am now continuing to develop and expand my knowledge in fire engineering and working to achieve registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng). In addition, it is important to me that I continue to contribute to the team and ensure that I assist Balfour Beatty to provide a second to none service for all our clients. Following that, probably enjoy retirement!