Home to the first master’s program and one of only three fire protection engineering graduate programs in the United States, WPI’s Fire Protection Engineering Department has driven significant cutting edge research, developed real-world solutions through its state-of-the-art fire laboratories, and graduated highly-trained, influential, in-demand experts.

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

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.

Ali S. Rangwala

Professor
Fire Protection

Current fire-safety standards do not fully account for the wide range of combustibility of materials found in industrial settings. Nor do the standards provide for accurate measurement of hazardous dust accumulation within the environment. My research addresses combustion, industrial fire protection, and explosion protection. Among the potentially life-saving projects I’m working on is the development of measurement and ~sensing devices designed to identify the presence, velocity, and flow direction of smoke.

Milosh T Puchovsky

Professor of Practice
Fire Protection

Fire protection engineers recognize and assess a broad range of fire and life safety risks and, possess the technical knowledge and skills needed to develop effective solutions. Through my academic endeavors and professional practice, I bring practical perspectives to our students' educational experience. My teaching incorporates situations that practicing fire protection engineers face on a daily basis, facilitating our students' functional understanding of a fire's physical behavior, its impact, and the role of reacting systems, regulations and product standards.

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

According to The Exponent TelegramAli Rangwala, professor of fire protection engineering, is collaborating with researchers at West Virginia University on how to enhance underground mine safety training. With funding from the Alpha Foundation, Rangwala and his colleagues will be making developments to the Dust and Gas Explosion Model to help quantify mining fire hazards on WPI's campus. 

The Exponent Telegram

Boston 25 visits WPI’s Fire Protection Engineering lab to see how researchers are using a new wind tunnel to better understand how wildfires spread.

Boston 25