Day in the life: Fire and safety engineer

My morning:

My role is the design and engineering of fire protection systems for oil and gas installations, which can be onshore or offshore. If I’m working in the office my day starts at 6.45am. I get myself ready for work and leave the house in Blackburn to drive the 35 miles to the Blaze offices in Laurencekirk, arriving around 8.15am, where my first port of call is to check my emails and get a coffee.

My job takes me offshore occasionally, varying from a two-day trip to sometimes trips lasting two weeks or more. When offshore I work 12 hour shifts, normally starting around 6.30am. I enjoy these trips as it breaks up my schedule and lets me gain valuable experience.

I work on a variety of projects that can entail a wide range of tasks. I often use computer modelling software to run hydraulic calculations of deluge systems and firewater distribution networks. The calculations enable us to offer a number of services to clients such as the design and engineering of new firewater systems; validating existing systems against current performance standards; optimisation of existing systems where certain areas may no longer require deluge coverage or where incorrectly-sized nozzles have been installed; and firewater ringmain analysis.

In order to understand and create the computer models, I’m required to interpret hydraulic noding isometric drawings, general arrangement drawings, piping and instrumentation diagrams and 3D models of oil and gas installations.

I also need to create technical reports in order to summarise the results of my calculations and findings.  

My lunch:

If I’m in the office I take my lunch around midday for 30 minutes. I usually take sandwiches with me and just eat at my desk. There are a few places to choose from around Laurencekirk if I fancy a change however such as the local bakery and shops. If I am offshore lunches are provided by the operator and last for one hour. There’s always a good three-course spread to keep you going until tea time.

My afternoon:

A large part of my job is liaising with colleagues and clients to ensure all documents are created, checked and approved to allow the project to proceed according to schedule. Our 3D modelling allows me to create parts lists for projects which are then forwarded on to the onsite workshop team for purchasing. Having the workshop onsite is great for learning and gaining practical experience.

Another part of my job is ensuring that any requirements by the client are met, such as writing weekly progress reports, attending meetings with clients or travelling offshore.

The work involved with being offshore normally involves surveying proposed or existing firewater systems to help progress projects. There’s also opportunity to get hands-on and assist with modification, repair and installation works which is a great benefit to broadening my knowledge and understanding of the systems I’m engineering.

My evening:

The guys in the office mix well and we organise weekly games of badminton on Tuesday’s and football on Wednesday’s after work, which we play at the local secondary school. It definitely boosts morale and there’s always a good turnout.

If I’m not out after work, then when I return home at 6pm, I like to go out on my bike for a couple of hours. It’s a great way to unwind at the end of the day and there’s some great roads around Aberdeenshire. I used to compete every week in road races all over the UK and even spent a summer racing full-time in Belgium. I had to stop racing however due to university and work commitments at the time. I’d like to return to racing and I’m slowly building my fitness back up again. The popularity of the sport has grown massively in recent years with a lot more people out enjoying cycling at all levels.

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