New Fire Engineering course launched by University

Birmingham City University aiming to address post-Grenfell skills shortage concerns.

Birmingham City University is to launch a new apprenticeship in Fire Engineering later this year, to help address national concerns around a skills shortage in Fire Safety and Building Safety.

The part time Higher-Level Degree Apprenticeship in Fire Engineering, developed in partnership between the National Fire Chiefs Council and the UK’s commercial fire engineering industrial sector, will commence in September 2021.

A growing demand for fire engineers has been highlighted by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, and the UK Government is currently progressing a new Fire Safety Bill and Building Safety Bill currently through Parliament.

Pic – Fire Protection Association.

The public inquiry and the investigations into the dreadful loss of life at Grenfell in 2017 has identified a massive competency gap and an opportunity for people to acquire new skills in fire engineering across the UK.

The degree course is ideally suited to those currently working in the Fire and Rescue Service and in Fire Engineering consultancies, who wish to take full advantage of their work experience and gain a formal qualification, with the support of their employer.

By bringing together expertise in teaching, practice and research the course will help to create the next generation of British Fire Engineers and provide a new route for employers seeking to recruit new talent and for people seeking to enter the profession.

Angus Sangster, Senior Fire Safety Engineering Manager at International Fire Consultants Ltd, welcomed the University’s move, saying “The tragic events around Grenfell Tower in London has brought the need for competent fire engineering professionals in to sharp focus. As with many true engineering disciplines there has been a steady decline in the numbers of students pursuing a career in fire engineering. The Fire Safety Engineering Apprenticeship is a fresh new approach to address this skills gap, rooted in work place experience while studying for a full Batchelor of Engineering degree.”

The Birmingham City University announcement follows a pledge made by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick in the House of Commons earlier this week, that the Government will commit £3.5 billion funding to remove unsafe cladding from buildings across the UK.

Mike Leonard, Visiting Professor in Manufacturing and Construction at Birmingham City University, said, “The ongoing public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower tragedy, highlights the importance of fire safety in the built environment. The Fire Safety Bill and Building Safety Bill and the introduction of a Building Products Regulator confirms the need for a very significant increase in skilled fire professionals. This new Birmingham City University apprenticeship will be strongly supported by employers, who can fund the training through the Apprentice Levy and by students who can earn while they learn the skills for this critical profession.”

The Fire Engineering course is part of a new suite of apprenticeships announced by Birmingham City University to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week.

A report in December 2020 by the Parliamentary Housing Committee said it was “deeply shocking and completely unacceptable” to have more than 2,000 “high-risk” residential buildings with “dangerous cladding” over three years after the Grenfell disaster.

Birmingham City University hosts a sold-out panel discussion on this important issue on Thursday 11th February, featuring legal, construction and insurance experts.