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"I have met many professional goals"

Jaime Moncada

Mr. Jaime A. Moncada, founder of IFSC, is our Professional of the Month.

by Security Sales

Quite possibly you have read at least one of the many columns that Jaime Moncada has written in Security Sales. Their contributions have been valuable and we are sure that more than one engineer has taken them with them as educational material and to share.

We know of Jaime's extensive knowledge on the subject of fire protection, but little do we know how he got started in this sector, what led him to become interested in this industry; what he does in his spare time, and what he thinks of the fire protection engineering industry today. That is why for this last edition of 2021 we chose him as our Professional of the month.

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Jaime is a Bogota born in the year 61, son of Don Jaime Moncada Pérez, q.e.p.d., one of the most recognized professionals in all time and pioneer of fire protection in Latin America. "His influence on my professional life was always very important, to the point that when I had to study a professional career, with the support of my parents, I moved to the United States to study fire protection engineering at the University of Maryland, on the outskirts of the City of Washington."

His studies and having met who is now his wife Kirsten were more than enough reasons for Jaime to choose to stay and live there. After graduating, Jaime joined Rolf Jensen & Associates, perhaps the most recognized fire engineering firm in the world (today called Jensen Hughes) and then founded his own fire protection engineering firm for our region.

"There (at Rolf Jensen & Associates) I worked for 15 years and had the opportunity to learn from very important engineers. There I was able to work in several jobs, initially as an engineer, then deputy manager of the office in Washington, manager for Latin America and Spain, and finally as international vice president. In 2001 I decided to become independent and founded International Fire Safety Consulting (IFSC), a fire protection engineering firm focused on the Latin American market, where I work as a director to date."

Now let's know what Jaime told us about his career and his vision of this industry.

Security Sales: What are your personal challenges and your next goals to meet personally and professionally?
Jaime Moncada: I feel very fortunate, because after more than 35 years of professional life I have been able to meet many professional goals. I have been able to follow in my father's footsteps and continue the work he began with the introduction of NFPA in Latin America. With him I was co-editor of the NFPA Fire Protection Manual, the only document written for the Latin American practitioner; I was the founder of the Latin American section of the NFPA and had the opportunity to create and direct the professional development programs of the NFPA, where the CEPI Certification was born and the thousands of training courses in fire protection in Latin America.

I have also worked with the Society for Fire Protection (SFPE), where I participated for almost a decade on its board of directors and promoted their interest in Spanish-speaking countries; I like to write columns about fire safety, teach classes, give lectures and I'm very proud of that legacy; but perhaps the most important thing has been to see IFSC, the firm where I work, grow, because I think we have shown our clients why a consulting engineer in fire protection is important, in some of the most relevant projects in Latin America.

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VDS: What analysis do you make as a professional about the importance of technological innovation, staff training, the objectives that must be met in the market?
Jaime: Fire protection engineering, although it is a relatively young technology, is constantly changing and is getting deeper. That is why staying informed and trained is essential, especially for us who do not have formal training at the university level in Latin America.

Always, since I graduated, I have been involved in training programs, initially with OPCI in Colombia and then with the NFPA. In 2002, with the NFPA we started a training joint venture that exceeded the most optimistic projections. In other words, I firmly believe that without professional training our industry will not be able to develop properly and that is why I continue to support in this area through the Fire Protection Institute (FPI).

VDS: What do you think are the reasons for your recognition in this market?
Jaime: Hahahaha, maybe the consistency, since I'm getting old and I've been dedicated to the same thing for a long time. But out of jokes, it seems to me that having been trained in the U.S., knowing well how fire safety works here, and working in Latin America, I can, better than anyone, be a bridge between how this technology works here in the U.S. and how it should be developed in Latin America.

VDS: What has been the evolution that the industry has had in the years you have been working in it?
Jaime: Fire protection engineering today, in the most developed countries, seeks not to so rigidly follow prescriptive fire codes, but rather to develop solutions with computerized designs, which are called Performance-Based Designs.

However, I believe that in Latin America we cannot, without having an adequate fire prevention code, jump to designs for performance. We must first have modern fire prevention codes, with serious and professional oversight. That is why I have worked in many countries in the development of local fire prevention codes, based on NFPA or IBC regulations.

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VDS: How do you see the future of this industry?
Jaime: The fire protection industry in Latin America is becoming larger and more prosperous, although it is at the same time still immature. I mean that in a tender companies are presented, either in a design or installation project, that are world class but also compete simultaneously with companies that do not have tradition, professionalism, ethics and / or respect for this profession. In such an environment it is difficult for the end user, in an open tender, to discern whether he is buying well.

Undoubtedly, it is important to separate the design of fire systems from their installation phase and hire the designer, hopefully a consultant specialized in fire protection engineering, to continue doing inspections and acceptance tests during the installation of fire systems.

VDS: Finally, tell us about your family, do you have other interests (music, sports, travel, other fields of knowledge)?
Jaime: My wife Kirsten is a lawyer. She works as the national director of privacy, in the U.S. government. Elena, a recent graduate in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, who is applying to medical school, and Axel, the youngest, who is studying Finance and Supply Chain at Washington University's Olin Business School in St. Louis. I am obviously very proud of all of them!

As a family we love to travel and have been lucky enough to visit many parts of the world. My hobby is cooking and I like to eat well. I have no problem spending a good dollar on a dinner at one of the most celebrated restaurants. I jokingly argue to my friends that just as they spend a lot of money on bicycles, golf and photography equipment, I do it on food. In the end all hobbies are worth money! Hahahaha.

Duván Chaverra Agudelo
Author: Duván Chaverra Agudelo
Jefe Editorial en Latin Press, Inc,.
Comunicador Social y Periodista con experiencia de más de 16 años en medios de comunicación. Apasionado por la tecnología y por esta industria. [email protected]

One thought on “"I have met many professional goals"”

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  1. Valdemar López
    Wednesday, 19 January 2022 18:30
    Muy merecido reportaje realizado en este valioso profesional de la PCI. @Jaime Andrés recibe nuestro cordial saludo desde #Venezuela, donde siempre estaremos a tu orden. Que continúes logrando tus metas y propósitos. Cordialmente amigo, Valdemar

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