New Year brings new president, initiatives for fire association

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Tuesday, February 1, 2005

BETHESDA, Md. - The Society of Fire Protection Engineers has announced its new president and a group of new initiatives to focus on in 2005.

Sam Dannaway, the founder and president of S.S. Dannaway Associates, a fire protection engineering firm in Honolulu, was elected as SFPE’s new president, replacing Ed Budnick from Hughes Associates. His term, which began in January, will require him to serve as a public voice and face for the organization over the next 12 months.

But the leadership position calls for more than just ceremonial duties. Dannaway is actively involved in pushing issues to the forefront of the fire industry, including the lack of qualified engineers in the field.

“We have a new initiative starting in 2005 to recruit people to the field,” Dannaway said. “We want to get young people interested in fire.”

Dannaway noted that there is a shortage of fire industry professionals throughout the market, even in his own firm’s service area.

“All employers are looking to hire and exceeding the available supply of engineers,” he said.

To combat this, the SFPE added a staff person, Chris Jelenewicz, to work on increasing the recognition of the fire engineering profession, which Dannaway thinks attributes to the lack of college engineers attracted to the industry.

“We have a problem with recognition in our field,” he said. “We are somewhat a small organization in comparison to other engineering associations.”

He said the SFPE accounts for 4,300 members while another engineering organization, the Association of Civil Engineers, has approximately 80,000 members.

In 2005, the SFPE also plans to begin developing standards. Last year, its board approved a project to develop a method of calculating fire exposure in building structures.

“We have produced guides before,” Dannaway said, “but this is our first step into standards development.”

But he also said the organization is not out to compete with other groups such as the National Fire Protection Agency.

“The standards we are getting into are in areas where other standard organizations are not,” he said.