Your path to becoming a fire engineer requires that you study and attain a BSc or BEng Mechanical Engineering degree from a South African University. This will normally take you a minimum of four years, which means you will have achieved an Honours level qualification. The Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) maintains a list of accredited degrees and if your qualification is included on their list, you become eligible to apply to become professionally registered after achieving the relevant competence and experience levels as stipulated. Should your degree not be recognized by ECSA, your qualification will still be evaluated to determine equivalency to an accredited South African degree. Upon meeting ECSA’s academic requirements you will be eligible to become a Candidate Engineer, which is one of the first steps you should take after graduating to set your direction towards getting to professional registration and in that way enriching your career options.
As indicated, your first step on the path to becoming a fire engineer is through the discipline of mechanical engineering. At this stage you may then specialise into the field of fire engineering through subsequent structured learning programmes and courses and work experience. It is however notable that fire engineering is not yet recognised by ECSA as a separate discipline. The field of fire engineering in South Africa is still developing in terms of education and training and professional bodies like The Institution of Fire Engineering is playing an important role in the development of this career path.
Besides for your engineering and scientific knowledge and technical prowess, a fire engineer will need a key set of skills and attributes to create the conditions for building their career successfully.
Relationship management and communication skills in dealing with a broad range of people will underpin a sustainable career. Written communication skills are similarly important. A fire engineer will have many times where they will be faced with pressure and time management is a necessary skill in this respect, as is resilience, adaptability and the ability to manage stress. Planning and organisational skills will further empower a fire engineer to be effective, as will critical thinking, analysis and problem solving skills through which logic and reasoning ability can be applied to identify the pros and cons of solutions and alternative solutions to the problems being tackled. The application of sound judgement and decision making are likewise essential.
As you progress in your career, your ability to manage a project independently and coordinate the inputs from different team members and specialists with the aim of delivering a quality product within budget and time constraints, becomes imperative. Even now, remember relationship management.
Please also see the Discipline Specific Guidelines provided by ECSA for Mechanical Engineers