Steve studied a BEng Civil Engineering prior to landing his role as a fire risk assessor, but believes the qualification wasn't essential. Discover his top tips for entering the profession
How did you get your job?
I managed fire safety in a previous job which led to me being trained in fire risk assessment. I gained enough experience to become a full-time risk assessor in a large social housing employer.
What are your main work activities?
I drive out to a number of sites, or one big site, and go through a checklist of fire safety issues. I carefully record information against a set of criteria and highlight any areas where there could be a potential risk of fire.
I record my report on an electronic form and feed this back to whoever is responsible for the property, which they can then use to ensure that the property meets the legal fire safety regulation requirements, which are set nationally.
What do you enjoy most about the job?
I get to meet a lot of great people and have the variety of visiting a number of different sites. The job is flexible and offers a good work/life balance.
What are the challenges?
Communicating issues back to the person responsible for the property in an effective way to ensure that they will make the necessary adaptations to become fire risk compliant. Remembering different aspects of fire safety can also be a challenge as there are lots of regulations and these are updated on a regular basis too.
What studies have you done?
I have an BEng in Civil Engineering from the University of Wolverhampton, where I studied as a mature student. I also studied a five-day course in Fire Risk Assessment offered by the Fire Service College.
My degree gave me an understanding of modern construction methods. It shows my employer that I can absorb complicated technical information but it isn't essential for the role of a fire risk assessor.
How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?
The role itself hasn't developed much but the legislation and fire safety guidelines change all the time so it's important that I keep up to date with the changes. I'm really happy in my role and plan to continue in it.
What advice can you give to other aspiring fire risk assessors?
Be prepared to never stop learning, as fire safety regulations are updated regularly and you'll need to keep yourself informed. There are a number of short courses that you can follow provided by the Institute of Fire Engineers.
Try to build a network to meet people who are already doing the job. You can find people on LinkedIn, or join a professional body such as The Institute of Fire Safety Managers.
Also, be enthusiastic and take an interest in fire-related news. If a large fire does take place, there'll be investigations into why it happened and what could have been done to prevent it.