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Celebrating a century of professionalism

The Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) will mark a major milestone in 2018: the centenary of their establishment.

In October 1918 ten Chief Officers attended a meeting held at Fire Brigade Headquarters in Leicester with the purpose of setting up the Institution. They recognised that other professions obtained status and recognition through institutions directly connected with the sector within which they worked but that fire had no such professional body. So they formed the IFE to promote the science and practice of fire engineering, to provide a means for members to share expertise and knowledge, and more generally to foster professional standards and competence.

Over the years the word spread and membership grew, as did the services provided by the Institution. In the 1920s the first steps were taken to create an examination scheme with the introduction of the Graduate exam, followed a few years later by the Associate Membership paper. This continued to develop over the decades, and today the IFE offers a number of papers twice a year in March and October.

An early photo of Leicester Fire Brigade; the city was home to the IFE for many years after its formation 100 years ago.

An early photo of Leicester Fire Brigade; the city was home to the IFE for many years after its formation 100 years ago.

Providing members with the opportunity for knowledge exchange and worldwide networking has been a key part of the Institution’s offering, and within the first few years of its existence a network of branches was formed. Much later, the creation of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) enabled experts to focus on specialist areas. Today the IFE boasts 42 active branches worldwide and eight SIGs, which focus on competency and ethics, fire investigation and research, fire modelling, fire resistance, firefighter safety, heritage buildings, industrial fire and risk, and transport.

The IFE of 2018 retains its original purpose as stated by its founders. A century on, it celebrates a record of continuous development and the enhancement of professional standards and technical competency on the part of all those involved in ameliorating the risk of harm caused by fire.

To mark this record a number of celebrations have taken place and more are planned. Perhaps the most significant of these was the launching of the Firefighter Safety Database. This invaluable resource makes freely available a wealth of technical and descriptive data and information on incidents where firefighter safety was seriously compromised, gathered from around the world. It can be accessed on the IFE website at www.ife.org.uk/Firefighter-Safety.

The IFE officially turns 100 on 31 October and to mark the occasion its flagship event, the annual International Conference, is being held in Edinburgh. The AGM will take place during the morning of the first day of conference and a special Centenary Dinner at The National Museum of Scotland will provide relief and entertainment between the periods of work. The conference programme is nearly finalised, with a number of eminent speakers lined up. The conference will focus on the theme ‘Young people and fire; reducing risks and saving lives’. For all event details, sponsorship packages and details of how to book tickets, see www.ife.org.uk/events.

Find us on Twitter @ifeglobal or on Facebook and LinkedIn by searching The Institution of Fire Engineers.

For more information, go to www.ife.org.uk

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