Dr Craig English
PhD in Fire Safety Engineering and Quantified Risk Assessment, Sheffield University; CEng; MiFireE
When did you join Semper?
I didn’t join Semper – I started it. Well, I established the London arm of Astute Fire following Adam Bitterns efforts in Scotland. This came many years after I completed my PhD (2002) and went to work for a small independent fire engineering consultancy in the North West. I went on to work for various large multi-disciplinary companies, finally settling in London.
Where did you begin your career?
Prior to my PhD I spent sometime working alongside private quantity surveyors in a small practice in Sheffield. This was probably the most boring and uninspiring period of my working career. However, during my time there I stumbled across Approved Document B and DD240 (later BS7974). I was drawn to the engineering aspects of the discipline and fascinated with risk and reliability and the various ways of measuring and quantifying uncertainty.
My biggest breakthrough came when I convinced a professor at the University of Sheffield that I had a good idea regarding steel framed buildings and sprinklers, after which I secured a small pot of money to look at the benefits of probabilistic design in the context of structural fire safety using BRE’s CRISPII software and a Monte Carlo program first developed at the Steel Construction Institute.
What has been your favourite project?
Implementing my PhD study on a high-profile building, the Beetham Tower in Manchester. I believe the steel framed podium structure is the UK’s – and possibly the world’s – first multi-storey steel framed structure ever erected without any passive fire protection. It proved to me that there is no barrier to what can be achieved when creative thought is mixed with numerical investigation, hard work and patience.
What do you enjoy most about working at Semper?
Our flat management structure, creativity and the ability to influence how things should be done in the fire engineering world going forward. Influencing the direction of this subject is something we intend to do much more of.