Working at the right level: guidance for Chartered Engineers in the enforcement sector
Mostyn Bullock, IFE Registrants Group membership committee Chairman, reports on new guidance for applicants for Chartered Engineer registration who are working in the enforcement sector:
Registration with the Engineering Council is increasingly being seen as a means by which employers can demonstrate, and specifiers demand, competency of individuals carrying out engineering work.
There are currently 235,000 professional engineers of the Engineering Council’s register. Four hundred and sixty five of these registrants are fire engineers who have been registered through the IFE since the Institution received its license from the Engineering Council in 1997.
Applications for registration are processed by the IFE Registrant Group membership committee which meets every two months. Between meetings, professional review reports are peer assessed and interviews held. Over the last 15 years the process has been refined to follow changes in the Engineering Council’s requirements and rules as well as to improve and streamline the IFE’s registration process.
Of the IFE’s current 465 registrants, 283 are Chartered Engineers, 26 are Incorporated Engineers and 156 are Engineering Technicians.
As would be expected in a safety-related profession, the IFE draws its membership from a broad range of business types including academia, consultancy, manufacture, contracting, testing and research, insurance, regulatory enforcement, emergency services and forensic science.
Within each of these business sectors there are IFE members carrying out fire engineering at levels appropriate for registration with the Engineering Council and the IFE Registrant Group membership committee has processed successful applications for registration from persons working in all these sectors.
In the field of fire safety, persons carrying out approvals and enforcement have prominent roles in a significant amount of work which is carried out. It would be expected to see this prominence reflected in the profile of the fire engineers who are registered with the Engineering Council. For EngTech and IEng registration grades this is indeed the case, with approximately two thirds and one third of registrants in each of these grades (respectively) working in approvals and enforcement related fields. For CEng the situation is markedly different at only one tenth of registrants.
With greater innovation in fire engineering and the perpetual movement to functional, performance-based regulations, it is becoming increasingly necessary for engineers working in the approvals and enforcement sector to have complementary skills and equivalent competencies to engineers working in other areas of the profession. The IFE’s Registrant Group membership committee has seen this reflected in a steady increase in applications from the approvals and enforcement sector but has also noted that there are particular challenges for applicants to address in providing the necessary evidence of appropriate competency and commitment for CEng registration.
For this reason, the IFE’s Registrant Group membership committee has produced supplementary guidance which is aimed specifically at those considering making an application for CEng registration and who are working in the approvals and enforcement sector. This guidance will be available for download from the IFE web site and is previewed below.
Any applicant for professional registration has to provide a refereed Professional Review Report (PRR) which details personal experience, roles and responsibilities. Depending on the applicant’s academic qualifications, an additional ‘Technical Report’ may also need to be submitted at the request of the IFE’s registration committee. Finally, applicants also attend a Professional Review Interview (PRI) carried out by experienced registered fire engineers.
The purpose of this document is to provide some simple guidance for prospective applicants who are working in the roles relating to enforcement of fire safety such as:
1. Building Control
2. Fire and rescue services
Demonstrating that you are working at the right level
It is an essential requirement that an applicant can demonstrate to the peer review assessors and interviewers that he/she is currently practising fire engineering at the appropriate level. The full range of competency and commitment criteria which need to be satisfied are explained in the guidance of CEng applicants which can be downloaded from the IFE web site at the following link: www.ife.org.uk/engineeringcouncil/
In terms of satisfying the requirements relating to the technical competency and commitment criteria, the key principle which applies is that the applicant’s professional roles and responsibilities must involve the use, by the applicant, of engineering judgment based on a sound knowledge of scientific and mathematical principles.
It is the adherence to this principle which presents applicants from the enforcement sector with a slightly greater challenge.
It is likely that a significant part of the applicant’s work will relate to checking and advising on compliance with published standards and codes of practice etc. In isolation, this type of work may not incorporate a sufficient use of science, mathematics and engineering judgement to satisfy the competency and commitment criteria.
It is therefore important that the applicant should take every effort to ensure that they are able to provide evidence of the following in the Professional Review Report:
1. Their understanding of the scientific and mathematical principles underpinning the typical fire engineering methodologies that the applicant will come across in their enforcement role
2. Their ability and opportunity to research, identify and use relevant fire engineering methodologies to make professional judgements on designs, specifications and situations that may not comply with prescriptive standards or codes
3. Their contribution to technical policies in relation to the development, interpretation and/or application of standards and codes of practice etc
4. Their involvement in driving forward change in their organisation.
To provide this evidence, it is likely that the applicant will need the support of his/her employer to ensure that the applicant’s role will include the appropriate opportunities to develop this evidence over the Initial Professional Development (IPD) period.
More details on the work of the Engineering Council can be found on its web site at: www.engc.org.uk
Information packs for Fire Engineers on CEng, IEng and EngTech registration can be downloaded from the IFE web site at: www.ife.org.uk/engineeringcouncil/.
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