Christopher Odgers CEng FIFireE MCIBSE

96 Christopher-OdgersEducation and qualifications:
IFE exams; Certificate; Graduate; Member; Master of Applied Science majoring in Fire Safety Design 

Which Institution(s) are you a member of?
Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE)
Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE). 

Current job title: Principal Fire Engineer
Company: Fire Check Consultants Pty Ltd
Length in current job: 14 years
Approximately how many staff are employed by your company? 7
Where are you based? Queensland, Australia

Please describe your current role:
As the owner of Fire Check Consultants and principal fire engineer, my role is to identify business opportunities, obtain and project manage work, undertake quality reviews of engineers’ work, prepare engineering solutions and undertake construction inspections for quality. 

Please provide a brief outline of your career so far:
Since 1969 I have worked in the fire protection industry, working my way up from a trainee fire sprinkler fitter to where I am today. My responsibilities over the years, have included the management of hydraulics, fire protection and miscellaneous piping divisions, design and supervision of special hazards projects, applied fire engineering and, more recently, fire investigation work as well as the day to day financial, design and resources management of the business.
I am also a part time lecturer at Central Queensland University. In addition, I have played an active role in structuring and delivering fire courses and lectures at Queensland University of Technology and the Queensland Fire Investigation and Research Unit.

Have you worked on any unusual or high profile projects?
Following the fire at a backpackers’ hostel in Childers, Queensland in June 2000, in which 15 young backpackers died, I was commissioned by Queensland Fire and Rescue Service to determine whether there were one or several ignitions and how fire and smoke had spread throughout the country hotel over the short space of time. I reconstructed the fire scene using a physical scale model and applied various scale burns. I validated the outcomes of the scale burns using computer software and concluded that several ignitions had occurred. My report was submitted as evidence to the court.

In 2001, I was commissioned by Steve Irwin of Australia Zoo to apply a natural ventilation design to his new restaurant building rather than fire compartmenting the building as required by the prescriptive building code.

What attracted you to become registered as a CEng?
Promotional literature from IFE alerted me to professional registration at CEng level. 

I understood from the literature that registration with the Engineering Council offered worldwide recognition, something that I had been seeking for some time.

It was immediately apparent that the work I was doing and the experience I had, more than met the requirements for CEng, and up until that point I had not had anything tangible to demonstrate my professionalism. Gaining registration as a CEng would provide me with the proof that I was operating at a professional engineer level.

How did you become registered as a CEng?
As I did not have the exemplifying academic qualifications required for CEng as specified in the Engineering Council’s UK-SPEC, I was advised by IFE to apply via the individual route. I enrolled on the institution’s mentoring scheme and was given excellent support and guidance throughout the registration process, which included writing a technical report (to test my knowledge) and attending a professional review interview (to test my competency). I was registered as a CEng in April 2009.

I am very grateful to IFE for their continuing encouragement, support and mentoring provided to me over the 33 years of my membership and I hold the Institution in very high regard.

How has professional registration as a CEng benefitted your career?
Apart from raising my self-esteem, gaining professional registration as a CEng has enabled me to apply for professional engineering registration with the Board of Professional Engineers, Queensland. This professional registration level allows me to prepare engineered alternative solutions in building design across the whole of Queensland.

What advice would you give someone considering professional registration as a CEng?
There is much value in becoming a member of the international engineering community. Being professionally registered with the Engineering Council provides confidence in one’s ability to operate at the highest engineering level. 

As the owner of the company, how do you support your engineering employees in gaining professional registration?
I have put in place a number of processes which enable my engineers to seek professional registration. I also allow them study time and pay their membership and registration fees.

Why do I do this? Because I want my employees to hold internationally recognised engineering registration. And so far, it’s been a success. One of my engineers has recently achieved CEng and another employee is well on his way to gaining professional registration.

How does your company benefit from employing professionally registered engineers?
Our work scope is broader now that we have Board of Professional Engineers, Queensland registration which was made possible only through myself and other employees gaining CEng status with the Engineering Council. 

Do you hold any other academic/professional qualifications?
I have a Master of Applied Science (fire safety design) from the University of Western Sydney and I also hold a number of installation and maintenance licences, including gaseous fire suppression systems and, of course, fire sprinkler systems. In addition, I have a QBSA fire protection supervisor licence.

What are your future goals?
I think, at 59, I have just about reached all my goals and I am looking forward to retirement in the next few years. Before I do so, I will put in place a succession plan that sees my professionally registered engineers take over and manage Fire Check Consultants.

I congratulate and thank the Engineering Council for its facilitative approach to engineering registration.