Institution of Fire Engineers review process realises global strategy roadmap

25 July 2021

THE INSTITUTION of Fire Engineers (IFE) has undertaken a comprehensive review of its communications and activities to improve its services and qualifications for members and also strengthen the organisation’s global influence in the two key areas of competence and sustainability.

With over 100 years of history, the professional membership body enables those practitioners operating in the fire sector to increase their knowledge, professional recognition and understanding of fire through a global discourse. In essence, the IFE is instrumental in shaping a future world that is safer from fire.

Steve Hamm (pictured, right), CEO of the IFE, explained: “The fire safety landscape in which our members operate is changing at a faster pace than at any time since the foundation of the organisation back in 1918. This is both exciting and challenging and we have had valuable input from members, volunteers, staff and stakeholders in shaping our future direction.”

Hamm continued: “Across the board, our members’ roles and responsibilities are evolving, influenced by advances in technologies and materials, external factors such as climate change and learnings from major incidents like the Grenfell Tower fire. These are all influencing new regulations, standards and ways of working, while at the same time highlighting the importance of knowledge and information sharing to evolve our skills and capabilities worldwide.”

Adding to the team

To support its future strategy, the IFE has expanded its team to include technical director Peter Wilkinson who’s leading on the IFE’s technical collaborations, Special Interest Groups and input into consultations. The new position of relationships manager has also been created. Gill Haynes has taken on this role to lead on developing support for the organisation’s international network of branches and extensive cohort of volunteers.

As part of its plans to enhance competency, the IFE has introduced a new suite of qualifications inspired by global industry needs and feedback from members and examiners. There are plans to build on the success of these by bringing in at least two new qualifications for 2022. The final selections are yet to be made, but Urban Search and Rescue and Fire Risk Assessment are currently being explored when it comes to subject matter.

The IFE is also building closer relationships with higher education and university establishments to broaden the depth and diversity of skills and competency across both technical and social disciplines. This work will create clear competency frameworks centred on membership, professional registrations, knowledge sharing and accessible career development pathways for all.

The shift to virtual learning and events necessitated during 2020 will continue. This will widen access to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and other events for members around the world, increasing their ability to knowledge share and learn from each other.

Addressing sustainability

Aligned with these plans are the IFE’s initiatives specifically designed to address sustainability, from adapting to the challenges driven by climate change through to building resilience in the profession. Future practice will be informed by Smart Cities, connectivity and Big Data alongside advances in building materials, fuels, transport, energy storage, water and waste management together with the technologies that fire professionals can use to predict, manage, monitor and deal with fire risk and fires.

Hamm observed: “Sustainability is an area where we feel the true value of our global community will come to the fore. We will be looking at ways in which to expand our branch network and CPD opportunities to share ideas and expertise that can inform Best Practice, spark fresh research and deliver advances in our professional capabilities and understanding.”

In conclusion, Hamm remarked: “This will be a transformational year for our organisation. One in which we will build upon feedback from members around the world to strengthen our leadership, communications, responsiveness and relevance to fast-changing global fire safety and competency needs. All of this will ensure that our members continue to thrive as trusted professionals.”