February 22, 2017
The purpose of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) is to advance the science and practice of fire protection engineering and its allied fields, to maintain a high ethical standard among its members, to develop fire protection engineering guidelines and standards and to foster fire protection engineering education. To achieve this, the Society engages in educational, scientific, and charitable activities, and promotes the practice of fire protection engineering. Michael James is Vice President of the SFPE NZ Chapter and he notes in this article just how extensive the scope of the Society’s engagement and activity is.
Involvement in IPENZ
The New Zealand chapter of SFPE is the Technical Interest Group for matters of fire engineering with New Zealand’s professional body for engineers, the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand. IPENZ provides targeted information about specific engineering fields, or areas of interest to all its members. The SFPE represents fire engineering perspectives on matters of importance to all engineers, including at the moment construction monitoring and professional regulation standards.
Working with FPA
As Vice President of the SFPE, Michael attends the bi-monthly Council meetings of the Fire Protection Association (FPA) where progress on the special interest groups is reported and discussed. A lot of great work is happening here among the special interest groups which focus on Passive Fire Safety, Hand Operated Fire Fighting Equipment, and the concerns of Evacuation Consultants and Alarm and Sprinkler Contractors. Allen Bestwick represents Origin Fire in the Passive Fire Safety special interest group.
Workshops and Presentations
Throughout the year the Society is involved in providing technical presentations and workshops on topics of interest to members and is often able to invite international specialists to undertake workshops in New Zealand.
Engagement with MBIE
The SFPE works closely with the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment, engaging in the Ministry’s fire policy and programme developments to update and improve design and consenting processes. In 2016 this relationship was underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry and the Society. The Ministry is supportive of the Society developing and writing its own codes of practice and guidelines rather than dictating procedures; support that the SFPE welcomes and is committed to honouring effectively.
Advisory Group to Canterbury University
The Fire Engineering programme at the University of Canterbury was established in 1993 and the University established an industry Advisory Group that, among a number of tasks, helps ensure the relevance of research projects to the industry. The SFPE contributes to this group.
The SFPE works in conjunction with the Fire Protection Association and the Institute of Fire Engineers to present the annual FireNZ Conference and as Vice President of the Society Michael represents the SFPE on the organising committee for the Conference. The Conference has been gathering momentum steadily in recent years and is a highlight on the calendar of anyone interested in and associated with fire safety, design, building and engineering. Michael’s invitation for requests and ideas for speakers or workshop themes is ongoing as he and the team collate suggestions and advice on first class speakers who will bring the very latest on fire engineering to the Conference. Work on the 2017 Conference has already begun.