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Sam Van de Meulebroecke, fire risk consultant
Sam in a nutshell
- Started at FPC Risk in 2006.
- Has degrees in Aviation Mechanics and Industrial Engineering.
- Enjoys getting access to otherwise unreachable locations.
- In another life would have been a fire department officer or a pilot.
What is your job position at FPC Risk and how did you get there?
I have two major passions, ever since I was a kid: aviation and fire safety. After my Graduate degree in Industrial Engineering, I started an education as Aviation Mechanic, but that’s when 9/11 hit and the complete airline business crashed.
After that, I worked as a technician and later team leader for a company that managed public swimming pools. Wanting a position closer to home, I switched to a chemical company, where my love for fire safety was rekindled. I studied to be a prevention advisor and in the end arrived at FPC Risk because I wanted to specialize 100% in fire safety. I’ve been there for over 13 years now. I started as a junior, but now am a senior fire risk consultant.
I remember one of my first assignments as though it was yesterday: traveling to Le Havre and spending a week at one of Total’s largest refineries in France. We ‘played’ with water, worked with the fire department. I knew I had made the right decision.
What does your job entail?
My job mostly entails the managing of different projects for which we develop sprinkler systems and perform risk analysis. Additionally, I am the account manager for all projects with Shell, for which I often travel to the sites. Any problem they have with fire safety, worldwide, I’m their go-to man.
I also manage Janssen Pharmaceutica and several smaller accounts. This means I am the first point of contact for the clients and the person to start up the projects. You could see me as the link and quality control between engineers and designers. It’s amazing to work in a team and a job that is so multi-faceted. We’re all all-rounders, while also being specialists.
Can you describe a typical workday?
Usually, I go to the office, read my emails and then leave for site controls or meetings with clients. Up until 2018 I used to often travel to Singapore, but also France, Qatar, Gabon, Denmark, etc. I have been on off-shore platforms, where you have to adapt to the shift schedule, starting at 6 AM and finishing at 2 PM. Last year I spent some time on an off-shore transformation station in the North Sea, where all wind turbine cables arrive to be converted into workable energy for the mainland.
So to answer your question: no, I can’t really describe a typical workday. I could be anywhere in the world, meeting new people, discovering new cultures. One day, when I was conducting tests in one of Shell’s oil terminals in Gabon, my 2 colleagues and I encountered an elephant rummaging through the trash. Sometimes, my job makes for the best stories!
What is your favorite aspect of working for FPC Risk?
Exactly that variation: you get to see so many places. But also in terms of job content, we’re not developing sprinkler systems all the time. Our projects differ in size and nature.
It’s so great to be able to walk through an empty Schiphol terminal or to see how sprinkles are made in a chocolate factory. How many people can say that?
Apart from that, we have the luxury of being around 20 amazing colleagues with the same attitude and mindset. We are a warmhearted team that can talk about anything. In recent years there are also more opportunities to advance and educate yourself, which is great, especially for newcomers. And on top of that, there are organized sporting activities, even during office hours. Management really focuses on our physical and mental well-being lately.