SFPE 2023: 3 Biggest Takeaways from First-Time Attendees

Our team of experts offers regular updates on FPE and life safety best practices, code modifications and more.

David Stacy, P.E.


November 3, 2023

The Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) recently held its annual conference and expo in Bethesda, MD. Two of Performance Based Fire’s newest employees offer key insights from the event.

The SFPE 23 Annual Conference & Expo was a four-day event that brought together fire protection and fire safety engineering professionals from all around the globe. The event included two days of live education focused on industry trends, research, solutions and technologies that are changing how fire protection engineers work.

Performance Based Fire attended SFPE 2023, and two of its newest team members, Rachel Kirk and Kyle Carpenter, were able to experience the conference for the first time. Here’s what they learned.

1. Research and Development Are Advancing the Industry

One of the major themes of SFPE 2023 was the progress of research and development in the fire protection engineering industry. Many innovative ideas were presented and discussed, including advanced technology, that can significantly improve the field's effectiveness and efficiency. These advancements could provide better building protection and save lives and properties.

“In the era of emerging technologies and a growing emphasis on sustainability, understanding how these factors impact the risk associated with the built environment is crucial,” said Rachel. “The conference showcased the dedication of numerous individuals who are actively involved in research and are diligently staying updated with the industry's evolving trends. It is clear that as we move forward, more resources will be required to foster these research efforts, and I am excited about the potential role our company can play in supporting such initiatives.”

Performance Based Fire is no stranger to research. Rosalie Hrybyk, P.E., is heavily involved in the SFPE Foundation’s Grand Challenges Initiative (GCI), which aims to provide research on pressing topics in the fire engineering industry, such as energy and infrastructure. Through her research with the GCI, Rosalie presented “Stair Pressurization and Considering Open Doors: A CONTAM and FDS Study” at SFPE 2023. In the study, Rosalie and the PBFPE team leveraged fire, airflow and egress modeling to visualize smoke movement throughout a building and the resulting pressure differentials.

Meanwhile, Kyle enjoyed learning more about innovations in technology. “As technology keeps advancing, fire protection engineers face new challenges,” he said. “It's crucial for professionals in the fire protection engineering field to stay updated with the latest industry trends. Walking around the expo and chatting with different vendors was a fantastic way to discover the wide range of technology available in our industry. It was particularly satisfying to see in person the equipment I often work with in Revit. I also enjoyed learning about technology that I wasn't familiar with and thinking about how it could be applied in practical situations to enhance my professional skills.”

2. Community Creates Better Fire Protection Engineers

Another takeaway from SFPE 2023 is the importance of community, as the conference brought together a diverse group of professionals from different backgrounds, experiences and expertise. The various sessions and networking events provided a platform for individuals to exchange ideas and learn from one another.

“The 2023 SFPE Conference provided a fantastic opportunity to meet and connect with experienced professionals from around the world,” said Kyle. “Networking is essential for professional growth, as these connections can lead to collaborations and open up new opportunities that you might not have otherwise discovered.”

Rachel agreed. “In our fast-paced daily lives, we often become insular in our routines,” she said. “Attending the SFPE Conference was a powerful reminder of the importance of community in our professional lives. It provided a unique opportunity to reconnect with old colleagues, classmates and peers while also building new relationships with fellow professionals in the industry. These interactions are invaluable in shaping a well-rounded, well-informed fire protection engineer. Our involvement in the broader fire protection community not only benefits us as individuals but also serves to enrich our company's perspective and contribute to our collective growth.”

If you want to connect with Performance Based Fire, we invite you to follow us on LinkedIn.

3. Recruitment Remains Critical in Fire Protection Engineering

The SFPE 2023 conference underscored a crucial imperative: the recruitment of additional professionals into the fire protection and safety industry. With the increasing complexity of modern infrastructure and the ever-present threat of fire-related incidents, the demand for these specialized professionals is on the rise.

However, the demand for fire protection engineers outweighs the available talent.

“With the ever-growing need for fire protection engineers, the low supply of skilled professionals remains a critical concern,” said Rachel. “Notably, the University of Maryland's introduction of an online bachelor's degree program in this field is an encouraging step towards addressing this issue. This new initiative promises to create greater accessibility to a fire protection engineering education and, in turn, help fulfill the increasing demand for our expertise.”

Performance Based Fire is always looking for top talent to join its team. If you’re an experienced fire protection engineer looking to join a dedicated firm, apply for a position today.


Attending SFPE 2023 was an excellent opportunity for our team to gain valuable insights and experiences in the fire protection and safety industry. The importance of research and development, community and recruitment made the biggest impact on our newest team members. We look forward to attending SFPE 2024 and gaining further insights into how we can help improve fire protection and safety standards.

Performance Based Fire is dedicated to keeping buildings safe through its wide range of services, including performance-based design and fire and egress modeling. Contact us to learn how we can help you.