2013 40 Under 40: Joseph Watson, 35

Senior Fire Protection Engineer, 
Hughes Associates Inc., Warwick, R.I.


Joseph WatsonJoseph Watson, PE, 35

Senior Fire Protection Engineer, 
Hughes Associates Inc., Warwick, R.I.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 
MS Fire Protection Engineering

Joseph Watson knows that in his role as senior fire protection engineer, there are times that the “shall” and “shall not” of a state’s safety codes are not adequately suited to address the challenges in unique existing buildings. It is in these cases that a detailed review of the risks versus the provided safety needs must be compared to the level of safety specified by the code’s intent. He perceives safety codes as a starting point that allow his engineering training and instincts to thrive. For example, Watson converted a historic residence into a new art gallery, provided guidance on using a new polymer material as a screen for a virtual reality studio, and provided calculations that a building’s existing 1800s construction could meet the fire protection necessary for safe egress from the building. He takes the time to understand a client’s goals and objectives so he can develop innovative ways to bring the design into full compliance with the codes. Watson’s experience includes development of fire sprinkler system designs, fire alarm designs, and installation documents; oversight of system installations; and inspection for compliance with applicable codes and standards. He is driven to tackle any project by disproving the assumption that engineers are “old and gray.” As a father of three, Watson’s free time is primarily spent with his family. He particularly enjoys cooking with his wife, playing with his kids, and going on new hiking adventures.

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