Published on September 1, 2017.

Safety Ed.

We asked four of this summer’s NFPA technical interns, BS/MS candidates in fire protection engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, for insight on careers, NFPA, and more



JENNA TROIO didn’t become interested in fire protection engineering as a career until she took her first course in the subject at WPI. What would she say to students who are on the fence about pursuing FPE?

My advice to students who are considering FPE is if your dream is to protect others and make the world a better place, then fire protection engineering is a career you should strongly consider. As an FPE student, I’ve had so many experiences that I never thought I’d have at 21—traveling for work, attending hands-on training courses, participating in full-scale fire testing, and more. I like seeing how the engineering that I learn in a classroom translates to work that affects the greater community.

JASON ZHAO has lived on four different continents. We asked him how his international experience has shaped his path toward becoming a fire protection engineer.

I faced culture shock and language barriers every time I moved to a new place. Similarly, different countries have varied levels of technology available in fire protection engineering and different mindsets towards fire protection. China, for example, has the world’s largest population, so their occupancy rule is more strict; on the other hand, sprinklers and smoke alarm systems are not a requirement for residential homes, which scares me because some of my family still lives there. One of my childhood friends and his mother died in a cooking fire. They fell asleep while the stove was on. If there had been fire alarms or smoke alarms or sprinklers in the unit, they would have had a greater chance surviving.

ANTHONY WILKENS joined the fire service as a volunteer firefighter when he was just 15. We asked him what led to his transition from firefighting to fire protection engineering, and how his firefighting experience has influenced the work he wants to do as an engineer.

My father led my transition from the fire service to fire protection engineering. He was the deputy chief at my local fire department and even taught my Fire 1 class. I remember having a conversation with my dad around sophomore year of high school when he asked about my plans beyond high school. I didn’t know what to do but it had to be related to the fire service. My dad recognized that I was a decent student, despite banging my head around on the football field for years, and suggested that I do more than firefighting. He set a high bar after being involved with the fire service for 30 years and taking every chance he could to lend a hand so I thought, what else can I do?

At NFPA, JOSHUA DONOVAN assisted with the early stages of development of NFPA 3000, Preparedness and Response to Active Shooter/Hostile Events. We were curious what that work showed him about the kinds of things he can do as a safety professional.

I was involved with planning the first technical committee meeting for NFPA 3000. Gathering approximately 40 safety professionals in one room was impressive—attendees represented academia, hospitals, fire, police, EMS, federal agencies, private security, and more. The result of the three-day meeting was the formation of three task groups and over 30 chapter outlines that are currently being revised.

Being involved in the process showed me there are dedicated stakeholders ready and willing to tackle new challenges. It is the goal of safety professionals to maintain safe work and public environments, and I’ve seen how they also have a responsibility to respond and adapt to new challenges. It is imperative that stakeholders be proactive in their pursuit of safety and work together to build resiliency.

Top Photograph: iStock