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Alison Marsh – My career in Fire Engineering

05 Mar 24

Alison Marsh

Role at Cahill Design Consultants

Principal Fire Consultant

Experience working in Fire Engineering:

13 Years

Top Tip for someone new to the industry:

Knowing the tech documents is one thing, but knowing where to look and problem-solving is the main thing.

Take on the principles and then say, ‘What if?’. Rarely is there only one way to do something, so look for the possibilities.

Diversify the courses you do so you get a good grounding and see what things will be like in practice. Fire Safety has so many specialist areas.

Ali’s Fire Engineering Journey 

Initially, I wanted to go into forensics science. But, when leaving college during the recession, many courses were oversubscribed. I was also not sure university was for me at the time.

Previously, I had the opportunity to work in the control room of the fire brigade; I shadowed for the day and found it interesting. I thought I would join the London Fire Brigade while figuring out what I wanted to do. I discovered there were so many opportunities to move around and a lot of overlap in roles. It suited me well as I always wanted a job that was not entirely behind a desk. I also enjoyed the problem-solving.

2 years after joining, I went into fire safety, moving towards the fire engineering side. The practical element of being in the brigade is beneficial. I learned to interpret and compare different situations. I was predominantly doing fire inspections involving building control consultation. This got me interested in building design. I joined the building design team as a liaison officer for the team and took additional training. Throughout my time in the brigade, I completed many qualifications and a Fire Engineering degree.

I found my experience as a woman in the Fire Brigade quite positive. However, there is still a long way to go with diversity. Interestingly, when I was there, the safety team was predominantly women at one point, but this can differ. There were a lot of women in senior positions who were good role models.

The fire brigade can be a particularly stressful environment, and in 2019, I wanted to try something new. I left the fire brigade to travel and go to university to study sports and exercise. But early in the pandemic, returning to Uni felt quite isolating, so I pursued a role in Fire Consultancy and joined CDC.

Unique projects

Working on The Shard. I was in the area team when it was going up and did the testing for the wet riser system.

I am working on the Uplands Business Park project at the moment. This is proving insightful and challenging as things change daily.

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