It was at the close of World War I in 1918 when the suggestion to form a professional association of fire engineers was put forward. On 31 October 1918, ten Chief Fire Officers held a meeting at Fire Brigade Headquarters in Leicester, the purpose of which was to set up such an organisation. The next meeting took place on 2 January 1919, in London, when it was announced that 40 Chief Officers had agreed to become members. In 1924 the way was opened for an application for Incorporation to be made officially with the blessing of all concerned. This was done immediately and at a meeting in London on 12 February 1924, authority was given to go ahead.
During the ensuing years, the suggestion to have overseas branches known as Colonial Councils was approved and the Union of South Africa become one of these Councils. This name, however, was discontinued in later years.
Although the Institution was initially registered as a charity in Scotland in 1924, the Headquarters of the Institution of Fire Engineers was based in Leicester for 80 years, whereafter it moved to premises within the Fire Service College at Moreton-in-Marsh for some 7 years, before settling in 2011 to where it is currently based at Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire.
The objectives of the Institution were to promote the science and practice of fire engineering and to enable members to meet and correspond with each other to exchange ideas for the improvement in such science, and to publish information on these subjects.
Over the years, the Institution has been involved with various UK Governmental departments to improve the regulations and legistation governing the fire service. The Institution today upholds professional standards within all public and private fire sectors by offering assessment of knowledge, experience and development and engages with major stakeholders to offer international conferences, identify and promote good practice and enhance technical networks worldwide.
The IFE examinations continue to be popular within the fire service and the industrial fire brigades. Many amendments to question papers have been made since the initial examination was held and the examination papers are continually being reviewed and updated to this day. In 2009, the IFE was given Ofqual Awarding Body status, having its qualifications registered on the National Database of Accredited Qualifications.
The IFE has been a licensed member of the Engineering Council since 2007 and can register those members that meet the necessary criteria as Chartered Engineers (CEng), Incorporated Engineers (IEng) or Engineering Technicians (EngTech).
The Institution in the United Kingdom also manages a Register of Fire Risk Assessors and Auditors.
What started as a handful of members in the United Kingdom, has grown to some 12,000 members in 44 Branches worldwide today.
The Institution of Fire Engineers is currently making plans for its centenary celebration in 2018.