The need for fire engineering education in Hong Kong

Wan Ki Chow

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic research


In the coming decades, the demand for fire engineers will be on the rise in South East Asia. There, supertall buildings, large atria, deep underground subway stations, long tunnels and huge green architectural features are constructed. Fire engineers will be expected to design, build and maintain ‘traditional’ fire engineering systems; they will also need to handle fire engineering approach for performance-based design, which projects having difficulties to comply with the fire codes adopt. Consequently, fire engineering evolved from vocational training to a high-level engineering discipline. The necessity of providing higher education at degree and above levels in fire engineering will be discussed in this paper. Problems encountered in performance-based design which are caused by an inadequate number of well-trained engineers will also be pointed out. The education programmes which are running in Hong Kong now will be used as an example. The subjects on fire engineering are described. Two points to note are discussed. Firstly, in contrast to other engineering subject disciplines, fire engineering must integrate basic fire science with real-life practices. Integration of professional experience in conjunction with fundamental fire science is essential. Professional accreditation of the fire engineering programmes is very important. Secondly, practicing fire engineering curriculum are mainly designed for solving fire problems encountered in developed countries, not for the ones encountered in South East Asia. Quality teaching on those topics should be provided with in-depth research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-62
Number of pages14
JournalFire science and technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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