Home to one of three fire protection engineering graduate programs in the country, WPI’s Fire Protection Engineering Department has driven more research, developed more real-world solutions, and graduated more in-demand experts in the last 30 years than any other university.

Our internationally renowned faculty members are recognized for cutting-edge research and teaching focused on making the world safer by tackling challenging questions about fire behavior and our response to it. Students work alongside them in state-of-the-art facilities to gain and create knowledge that informs and shapes regulatory policy, building design, manufacturing processes, first responder operations, and product performance standards.

Degrees & Certificates

Area of Study Bachelor Minor Certificate Master PhD
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WPI Professor Talks to Newsweek

In light of the devastating California wildfires that have killed 17 people, Newsweek interviewed fire protection engineering professor Albert Simeoni, asking him if these types of fires always must be devastating to human life and property. Simeoni, who studies wildfires and is a former firefighter, said damage can be minimized through science and consideration of fire behavior. 

Where the wind blows wildfires can go

Related video: WPI fire protection engineers are using a newly designed wind tunnel to better understand wildfires.

Center for First Responder Technology

Stirred by the events of the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire in December 1999 and the tragedy of 9/11, WPI has been developing and applying innovative technologies and new ideas to alleviate the dangers that firefighters, police officers, EMTs, and other first responders face every day.

Performance Engineering Laboratory at Gateway Park

FPE Faculty and student researchers have access to facilities that are unmatched in academia—including the Performance Engineering Laboratory at Gateway Park, where researchers can conduct large-scale burns up to a two-story building.

Professors

Kathy A. Notarianni
Associate Professor
Fire Protection Engineering

Today, firefighters serve increasingly as first responders for emergency medical calls, civil emergencies, terrorist threats, and hazardous materials incidents, in addition to fire emergencies. The fire service needs tools and technologies that aid in carrying out their ever expanding mission without increasing costs. My research is focused on working with the fire service to achieve this important goal. I am conducting research on fire department mobilization times and exposure of fire fighters to toxic gases.

Nicholas A. Dembsey
Professor
Fire Protection Engineering

In today's cost-conscious world, ensuring greater life safety and property protection has never been more challenging. To this end, my research focuses on the building performance applications of fire dynamics, fire characteristics of materials, and fire models. I am working with students in the following areas: fire safety of green buildings; develop of new techniques and guidance documents for practicing engineers to measure fire properties of materials; and in the optimization of building assemblies for fire performance, ease of manufacturing and cost effectiveness.

Tahar El-Korchi
Prof/DH CEE & Interim DH FPE
Civil & Environmental Engineering

I enjoy my interactions with students at all levels of education, research, and mentoring, whether it be in the classroom, the lab, or in project work. I especially enjoy taking them to the Morocco Project Center and sharing with them the places where I grew up. Challenging the students to achieve higher levels of discovery is a thrill for me.

A High-Demand Career Path

The demand for fire protection engineers continues to grow, providing nearly unlimited career opportunities for WPI FPE graduates. Our alumni are highly sought after and can be found working as consultants, at fire protection equipment manufacturers, and in government, the insurance industry, research laboratories, and more. Their jobs have taken them from the South Pole to Alaskan pipelines, Disney World, and beyond.

Avoiding Costly Losses Due to Fire

This white paper, written by FPE professor of practice Milosh Puchovsky, introduces the profession of fire protection engineering and explores the many roles fire protection engineers play in helping organizations mitigate fire and explosion threats.

Fire Safety for Lithium Ion Battery Energy Storage Systems (ESS)

ESS facilities pose unique challenges as they can result in fast developing fires of significant heat release. Through a radiation heat transfer analysis, separation distances are examined. The results can inform the development of standardized spacing practices based on associated energy capacity and container size.

In the News

The Associated Press interviewed Professor Nick Dembsey, fire protection engineering, for this article. Dembsey told the AP that the goal of the new risk assessment tool known as the Risk Evaluation Matrix is to enable fire marshals, building owners and others to make their structures safer through a rational and scientific approach. 

The Baltimore Sun