Where did it all begin?
Began working with fire protection systems in 1975 with a design office of a major international company, whilst studying for a Level 4 certificate in Mechanical Engineering, later qualifying in 1980.
So after qualifying what was your next step?
In 1982 began as Senior Branch Draughtsman for what had by now become the same company for a period of around four years, looking after junior and trainee designers. This involved coaching and training and my approach was to enable them to be ‘stand-alone’ with a good understanding of the basics, which is the key to approaching the sort of problems we routinely come across. This developed into an instinctive wish to educate rather than just supplying answers.
And what was your next step-change?
By 1991 was appointed as Supervising Engineer for another major company (also an equipment manufacturer), which involved operating a public ‘over-stamping’ designs and final inspections service on a full-time basis for around sixty SME’s. This was to satisfy any insurers and other approving bodies that relatively inexperienced companies were being supervised in sprinkler, water-spray and water mist (with or without fire-fighting foam) work going forward. Again this was a role where a great deal of work was done developing system designers’ knowledge and experience.
Did you pursue any more conventional qualifications?
It was in 1996 that achieving the status of Incorporated Engineer with the Engineering Council happened. By this time, bringing engineering science to bear in interpreting the written rules in any given situation also became instinctive and looking through and behind rules became a daily experience.
What came next?
With the introduction of LPCB design reviews came a greater requirement for companies to train their employees to a very high standard and I was lucky enough to become deeply involved with this.
What about your own development?
Since teaching had become so prominent, a Level 3 Award in Education and Training (for adult education) was pursued and duly gained in 2016.
Brought in by A&F sprinklers to develop their training programme with a course written by designers, for designers was of course a huge attraction for someone with an inclination to educate, rather than just handing out an answer without explanation.
Is this different?
Yes, we don’t take the traditional ‘issue a load of handouts and then read them out’ approach. We set out to enable and inspire, so our people can be both competent, inventive and confident.
If someone is weak in maths, we’ll teach mathematics. If required, in any subject related to mechanical engineering or, more particularly water-based fire protection systems, we’ll teach it. Better people and a better company.