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Tina King wears many hats. She’s a risk consultant; a professional engineer; a technical advisor, a fire protection trailblazer, and now, a Regional Engineering Leader for AXA XL Risk Consulting, promoted from her previous role as an account consultant. Fast Fast Forward spoke with Tina about her new role and the continued importance of fire protection engineering in helping businesses protect their property assets. Here’s that she had to say:

Congratulations on your recent promotion to Risk Engineering Leader! What are you most excited about in your new role?
TK: I’m looking forward to building out our team here in the West Zone. We’ve got a lot of consistency in this region with engineers like me who have been here a decade or two. We’re looking forward to growing. We are filling a couple of new risk consulting positions to extend the bandwidth of a strong team of very seasoned senior property risk engineers. Plus, AXA XL Risk Consulting has been adding loss prevention expertise in other disciplines like marine, commercial auto, and casualty. This gives us additional resources to help our customers address risk mitigation across their operations.

What will your new role entail?
I’m responsible for making sure our Insurance underwriters needs are met, making sure they have all the information from our risk assessment to support their underwriting and pricing decisions. Additionally, a big part of my job is liaising with our clients. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with and build relationships with some of our largest clients. The diversity of industry here keeps my job interesting. We get to see a wide range of property risks from wineries to our high-tech clients’ data centers, from semiconductor plants to rocket launchpads.

You are a fire protection engineer by training. What exactly is a fire protection engineer?
Fire protection engineers apply science and engineering principles to protect assets from the possible effects of fire and smoke damage through design of fire detection, suppression and communication systems. As fire protection engineers on a property risk engineering team, we help our clients implement fire prevention and industrial loss control measures at their facilities to minimize property damage or avoid loss from fires.

...we help our clients implement fire prevention and industrial loss control measures at their facilities to minimize property damage or avoid loss from fires.

How did you get involved in fire engineering?
An ad in the paper, way back when we actually looked for jobs in the paper. I had just graduated from Cal Fullerton with an electrical engineering degree. I saw an ad looking for engineers to perform risk assessments so applied and I was hired. The company then was Industrial Risk Insurers (IRI). I was one of a few women in the training program. At the time, the manager took one look my hands and said, “You might want to cut your nails.” It was out of concern though, because he knew that the job entailed climbing ladders, working with flowing fire hydrants, etc.

You are a fellow of the SFPE (Society of Fire Protection Engineers), the professional organization that represents fire engineers. Out of a total SFPE membership of more 4,700 engineers, there are only 331 fellows and in addition to you, only handful have been women. How does it feel to be among such a small, prestigious group of industry colleagues? To be among so few women representing fire protection?
It’s humbling. For fire protection engineers like me, this is the highest level of industry recognition that you can achieve. Fellows have to be members of the Society for at least 10 years and have been nominated by their peers for outstanding contributions to the advancement of fire protection engineering and valuable service to SFPE. And I am in such good company, including my AXA XL colleagues like John Frank, Senior Vice President of our Loss Prevention Center of Excellence.

While it’s an honor to be among so many accomplished engineers, I am anxious to see more women represented, especially in the fire protection industry. According to some industry statistics, among Fire Protection Engineers, 12.4% of them are women compared to 83.6% which are men. That’s not unique in engineering overall where women only comprise 14% of the engineering workforce. Fire protection has big appeal to many because it helps make the world a safer place. It’s a profession that I’ve found so rewarding and I would certainly like to encourage others to explore it. I’m happy to see that four more women joined us as Fellows in 2021.

For your valuable service to the industry and SFPE, you’ve been recognized for creating a fire protection P.E. exam prep course. What’s the significance of this test and the prep course you initiated?
We were at risk of losing the Fire Protection Engineer license all together. There were not enough people taking the exam and not enough people passing the exam. Fear of failing the exam kept people from taking it and, in turn, threatened the existence of the FPE license.

To become licensed, engineers must complete a four-year college degree, have at least 4 years of work experience in the industry, and pass two intensive competency exams. The exams are tough. When I studied and took the test for the P.E. in fire protection, there was only one prep book to help. That’s why I created the course. Candidates need good study resources to be better prepared for the test. Fire Protection Engineering is not as populated a field as other engineering disciplines like civil or mechanical. Fire protection engineers don’t typically work in large groups, which make it difficult to study together in preparation for taking the FPE version of the Professional Engineer examination.

How has creation of the prep course helped?
The success of the P.E. exam preparation class is tremendous. The prep course now touches more than 100 participants globally each year. Those who take the on-line course have a much higher success rate in passing the exam (approximately 75%) than those who do not. In addition, the course provides flexibility to allow those taking the class to join the on-line session wherever they are in the world. Since the onset of these P.E. Review Sessions, the national average pass rate has increased significantly, yielding more registered P.E.’s in Fire Protection each year!

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Global Asset Protection Services, LLC, and its affiliates (“AXA XL Risk Consulting”) provides risk assessment reports and other loss prevention services, as requested. This document shall not be construed as indicating the existence or availability under any policy of coverage for any particular type of loss or damage. AXA XL Risk. We specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that compliance with any advice or recommendation in any publication will make a facility or operation safe or healthful, or put it in compliance with any standard, code, law, rule or regulation. Save where expressly agreed in writing, AXA XL Risk Consulting and its related and affiliated companies disclaim all liability for loss or damage suffered by any party arising out of or in connection with this publication, including indirect or consequential loss or damage, howsoever arising. Any party who chooses to rely in any way on the contents of this document does so at their own risk.

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In the US, the AXA XL insurance companies are: AXA Insurance Company, Catlin Insurance Company, Inc., Greenwich Insurance Company, Indian Harbor Insurance Company, XL Insurance America, Inc., XL Specialty Insurance Company and T.H.E. Insurance Company. In Canada, coverages are underwritten by XL Specialty Insurance Company - Canadian Branch and AXA Insurance Company - Canadian branch. Coverages may also be underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003. Coverages underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003 are placed on behalf of the member of Syndicate #2003 by Catlin Canada Inc. Lloyd’s ratings are independent of AXA XL.
US domiciled insurance policies can be written by the following AXA XL surplus lines insurers: XL Catlin Insurance Company UK Limited, Syndicates managed by Catlin Underwriting Agencies Limited and Indian Harbor Insurance Company. Enquires from US residents should be directed to a local insurance agent or broker permitted to write business in the relevant state.