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Oct 12, 2020

Jake Zlomie is a fire marshal at Montana State University. Jake graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in fire protection and safety technology. In this episode of Fire Code Tech, we discuss the challenges of code enforcement, specifically as it relates to existing construction, historic buildings, documentation and much more.

Tell me about your work history and how you got started as a AHJ?
It would be great to hear more about your role as a firefighter?
What was some of your favorite parts of your college degree at OSU?
What kind of codes and standards do nuclear facilities follow?
How do you balance code enforcement with business interruption / other stake holders?
Tell me more about your role about being an AHJ for a university?
What do you see as a trend in the industry?
What piece of advice would you give?



Hello, all welcome to the show. I'm Gus Gagliardi, and this is fire code tech on fire code tech. We interview fire protection professionals from all different careers and backgrounds in order to provide insight and a resource for those in the field. My goal is to help you become a more informed fire protection.

Professional fire code tech has interviews with engineers and researchers, fire marshals, and insurance professionals, and highlights topics like codes and standards, engineering systems, professional development, and trending topics in the industry. So if you're someone who wants to know more about fire protection or the fascinating stories of those who are in the field, you're in the right place on today's episode of fire code tech, we have Jake Slomi.

Jake is a fire marshal at the Montana state university. In this episode, we talk about what it means to be a fire marshal at a university, and some of the interesting challenges that he deals with. Jake is a graduate of the Oklahoma state university degree program in fire protection and safety technology, as well as he holds a number of certifications in plans, examination, and other areas of fire marshal expertise.

In episode 14 of fire code tech, we talk about the challenges of dealing with existing construction and historic buildings. Also, we get into documentation and the difficult task of record keeping for a whole campus of buildings with the myriad of life safety and fire protection systems. Make sure to subscribe.

So you never miss an episode and follow us on social media. If you want to drop me a line and talk about what you'd like to hear about on the show or guest ideas, you can email Let's get into the show. Well, hello, Jake. Thanks for coming on the show. How you doing? Good GU how are you?

Appreciate, um, appreciate you having me on. Yeah, it's awesome. I, uh, glad to have you on glad to have another F P S T grad on. And so, yeah, I just wanted to get started with a little bit about your background and how you have become an authority having jurisdiction and just your, your, uh, professional history in fire protection.

Yeah. So, um, yeah, so my, you know, I, uh, kind of grew up in, uh, grew up in Illinois, um, kind in the, in the Chicago suburbs there. And, uh, you know, I was kind of, I grew up, you know, a lot of, a lot of these kind of these stories kind of sound the same when you talk about talk through with people in fire protection, but, uh, you know, kind of grew up around the fire department.

Um, you know, my. My dad was on the fire department. My uncle was on the fire department. My grandpa was on the fire department and it, it was kind of just the, uh, it was kind of a, a natural, natural thing to kind of be, you know, go hang out at the fire station or, you know, be down there, kind of be around it.

And, um, so really when I was, I was in, in high school, I kind of got, got kind of more involved. Um, our fire department had a cadet program. Um, so I was able to kind join at 16 and kinda get, get some training and learn, learn about kind, what it involves to be kind EMS. Um, You know, I was kind of always trying to figure out, you know, throughout high school, what I really, what I wanted to do, um, where I wanted to study and, um, kind of got, got introduced to the, the, the fire protection program at Oklahoma state.

And, um, my dad was actually kind of the one who, who, uh, introduced me to that. He, he spent a year down in Stillwater, um, and kind of once, once I learned about it and kind of took, it, took the campus tour campus visit, um, I ended up, uh, just kind of, kind of following and following in love with the, with the campus and the program.

Um, and I really, uh, it was OSU was the only school that I applied to, uh, and I got lucky enough to get in. So, um, so it was pretty cool. That it worked out from that aspect. Um, you know, I had had some great, great experiences kind of, kind of getting into the OSU program and, and kinda, you know, met, met some great people along the way and, um, just kind of dove, you know, really just dove in and, and loved the loved the coursework.

And, um, you know, the, the classes were actually, you know, didn't feel like classes, um, and was fortunate with the, kind of the, the strength of the program. And, um, kind of some of, with some of the demand that the program has for graduates had some good internship experiences, um, and was able to pretty much each, each summer that I was there pretty much had a, had an internship, um, was able to kind of get out and, and get into the field, um, and kind of get a, get a firsthand look at what fire protection looked like.

Um, I really kind settled. Into the fire protection realm of the degree program. Um, it's the degree program's really, really pretty vast, but, um, settled into that fire protection side of it. Just kind on kind of what interested me the most and that, that department background. So graduated in December and then, uh, head back to Illinois to work, um, and kind had a couple different roles between between now and then.

And uh, in January of January. Yeah, I think January of 2019 ended up, uh, uh, moving out to Montana. Um, so my, my wife's from Montana, um, and have had the privilege to serve as the fire marshal at Montana state university here in Bozeman. Um, since then, so, um, Yeah, it's kind of, kind of how I got, got into it.

And, um, it's, it's been good to me so far, so that's awesome. That's really interesting to hear about, you know, the Genesis of your career and you starting out with, uh, a lot of your family, uh, in the fire service and that's, that's really special. Yeah. That's interesting to hear about. Yeah. I'd like to hear more about, um, you know, like, uh, I see that you spent some time, you know, as a firefighter and yeah.

I'd like to hear more about that time in your career, if you wouldn't mind going over, um, just kind of that experience and some of the lessons you learned, uh, in that portion of your career. Yeah. So I kinda, um, you know, getting involved with the fire department pretty early made that, uh, you know, create, you know, really, there's kind of a lot of opportunity there.

Um, For basically a, a high school student. Um, and kind of my, my path was I kind of was fairly aggressive in pursuing fire training, um, kind of my, my senior year of high school and that fall, I, I ended up getting my EMT license, um, and then as license in the state of Illinois for that. Um, and then I actually, I graduated high school a semester early, um, which was kind of an interesting adventure in itself, but, um, and then that fall, I kinda, I took a, took a semester at the community college just to get a bunch of transfer credits in.

Um, and at the same time, I, I went through a, through a fire academy, um, and got certified, um, in Illinois as a, as a firefighter. And, um, I kinda, it was kind a cool, kinda a cool summer gig, you know, I, I could, um, You know, work as a firefighter EMT and, um, you know, pickup shifts here and there. And, um, it, you know, the town that has kinda grew, grew up in a smaller town.

So it was a, a combination paid on call fire department. Um, so whenever, you know, it's kind of every, you know, fewer available and the pager went off, um, you know, Hey, there there's some work to do and, uh, kinda, you know, get to the fire station and, and kinda help out where you can. So, um, so it was kind of cool.

Um, you know, it kind of worked, uh, you know, throughout some, you know, breaks when I could, um, when I was home for school. And, uh, it really kind of, kind of gave me some, some great experience to kind of, you know, re respond to fire alarms, responding to fire, responding to, you know, all, all sorts of different event.

Um, but really it kind of was some really valuable experience to, um, especially once I got to OSU and kind of diving into fire code, diving into sprinkler code, um, you know, kind of understanding a bit of these systems and understanding the manual firefighting portion of it. Um, you know, even in, you know, throughout the fire academy, we, you know, we was, we did trench rescue and hazmat and, um, you know, a bunch of kind of specialized rescue classes, which, you know, first, first semester at OSU, you know, you're taking occupational safety and that's pretty much, you know, how do you, how do you work safely in a trench and how do you work safely around chemicals and how do you manage those chemical inventories?

And, um, so a lot of it was kinda, you know, it. A really great introduction, um, to a lot of my coursework kind of right away. Um, but even, you know, down the road to kind of navigating, uh, navigating some of those courses and having kind of some, the perspective of a responder understanding, you know, you know, Hey, how, you know, fire lines kind of can get overlooked at times, but knowing, you know, Hey, you know, we, you know, that fire line's pretty important and, uh, you know, that it was just a huge benefit.

Really. Yeah. It sounds like that's provided some invaluable context to probably, you know, the rest of your career. I mean, your entire career, being able to have that time in the fire service. And just, you know, contextualize all these things that you, um, got to learn later in school. Uh, that's really, that's really awesome that you had that experience.

I'm sure that that made the degree at OSU, which is very hands on and, you know, very technology based, uh, even more, uh, impactful and probably made a lot more of those lectures stick. I'm sure. Um, since it, wasn't your first exposure to the subject. Oh, definitely. You know, you know, and it was a great, you know, it was kind of a great introduction too, just to meet, you know, meet a lot of the friends that I made too.

Cuz you know, there there's, you know, you kind kind of enter, you know, to a new, you know, out of state school and, and you don't really know anyone and, um, kind of to get, you know, the camaraderie yet camaraderie of the fire protection program and kind of meeting people who are firefighters or served as volunteer firemen, you know, volunteer firefighters across the country really it's kinda gives you a common bond right away, which, which is huge to kinda just adjust to that college life.

Definitely. Yeah. And, uh, you know, just more on, uh, your time at OSU. Yeah. Would you, uh, I'd like to hear, you know, since you had that nice experience as a firefighter and kind of grew up in the fire service, you know, what was some of your. Favorite parts about your time at, uh, Oklahoma state university and, you know, what, what were some of your favorite classes and, and what kind of really, uh, hit home for you?

I guess? Yeah, so, um, really I stayed, I, you know, I like to stay pretty busy most of the time. Um, and when I was, when I was at OSU, I kind of, you know, one of the things, you know, right away, I'm like, Hey, I'm a poor college kid. I need to find some part-time work. And, uh, my, you know, my first year I worked for environmental health and safety at, at OSU and we would actually work, uh, football games and, and basketball games, kind of those special events, um, as first responders and, you know, I'm like, and that was awesome in itself, cuz it was like, Hey, you know, cool.

You could kind of be around the football games. You could kind of be around the crowds. You know, you're, you're there to ensure the safety of everyone, but it was kind of a, a cool deal and, and again, kind of getting to meet some people. And then I kind of, you know, really started to get. You know, the clubs were huge, getting involved.

You know, I kind of, I pretty much went to most, all the, the core fire protection clubs that are out there. Um, but kind of getting involved in the fire protection society right away. And, um, the society of fire protection engineers, um, at OSU was a, was a great experience. And, you know, and I had the, the pleasure of serving as the president, um, of our OSU S F P chapter, which was, which was, you know, really just an awesome.

Kind of experience in itself and, you know, class wise, I kind of, you know, there was a lot of them that it was just like, wow, you know, Hey, that's, that's really cool. And you know, I can't wait to get to class and, you know, I can't wait to, you know, it's like not like, oh, I got a three hour lab this week.

It's like, no, cool. I got, I got a three hour lab at the fire lab and we're gonna run a fire pump or, you know, I got a three hour hazmat lab and we're actually gonna go out and, and, uh, get kinda dawned and docked into some hazmat gear and, and go through a couple of incident exercises. And, um, you know, some, some of the classes were, were tough, you know, like, you know, sprinkler design, you know, man, that's a, that was a tough class, you know, trying to kind of get through and, um, kinda understand the S behind it.

And then you're trying to kind of teach yourself and trying to learn, um, you know, the software programs and AutoCAD for it's. You're trying do that all within a semester. Um, You know, realistically, I couldn't, you know, my, my favorite two pro classes that I probably had, um, were really probably fire dynamics.

Um, and also just, um, hazmat incident command. It was just kind of, both of those things were kind of, um, you know, they built upon the, the skills of the earlier classes that you were in, but you could really kind of see the, the fruit of those labor in your, you know, in your earlier classes. And it's kind of, you know, everything kind of started to stick a little bit more for sure.

Yeah. I definitely, for me that fire dynamics was, was probably one of the hardest courses I took at OSU. But when I was taking the, the PE exam, I'd say there's probably not a class that would've helped more. You know, like if I had just gone back through that class notes and everything we learned, cuz it seemed like there were just.

A ton of questions over, you know, fire phenomenon and, uh, that sort of thing. So it's neat to be a part of a program that has classes that are, you know, really, uh, meaningful in a real world context, uh, like F PST. So that's awesome. I'm glad to hear about your time. It sounds like you really enjoyed your time and yeah, I resonate with that idea.

So it's, uh, always good to hear from F P S T grad and somebody who has gone on to do good things. So it's good to hear about that. I like that. So wanted to get into a little bit more into your professional career and talk about, you know, it seems like, uh, from, uh, what little I know about you, that there's a, a through line of, um, in your career of sort of inspections and being an authority, having jurisdictions.

So. Yeah, I just wanted to get into that a little bit more about, you know, what, how has your experience been and, you know, a little bit more on, what does the role of, uh, authority have having jurisdiction look like and, you know, talk about that a little bit, if you wouldn't mind. Oh, sure. Yeah. And you know, and that's kind of, I, you know, I've had a couple different roles since I've graduated and I I've really, you know, kind of have considered myself kind of on that age, J side of it.

Um, really ever since I graduated and, um, you know, my, my first first job outta out of college was kind of, you know, right next to home where I grew up. Um, and it was, it was in a, a nuclear power plant, um, whereas the fire protection program manager. So it was, it was kind of an, a, you know, you were the AHJ, but it was, you know, kind of looked a little bit different, um, you know, working in nuclear power.

It's, uh, it's pretty highly regulated and, um, You know, and it can create quite a bit of headache, but at the same time, it's like, well, Hey, that, you know, that's awesome. You know, there there's a ton of documentation that's out there. There's, there's, you know, all these different entities coming in to inspect you, um, ensuring that what you're doing is safe and not gonna not gonna harm the public.

It kind of started, you know, it was kind of starting in like, you know, a fresh college, college graduate, um, stepping into it and kind of saying, well here, you know, here's some authority and it's like, whoa, you know, that's kind of, kind of terrifying, but you know, OSU prepared me pretty well. Um, technically to handle that.

And I kind, you know, I moved from the, the nuclear plant to a, uh, a national laboratory. Um, and it was, you know, the work wise, it, it was pretty, it was a pretty similar environment. Um, but at the, at the lab, it was kind of a little, you know, it. A little bit different in which we had, you know, we had a, kind of a fire protection team, you know, where you had three other engineers that were working with you and you had a team of fire alarm technicians that, that were, were there to support the lab.

And, you know, you're kind of, to me, it was like, you know, you have, you know, the, the nuclear plant you had, you had one plant and, um, you had a couple different outbuildings and stuff here, but you're, you're using, you know, the codes that the plant was licensed to. Um, so you're using kinda some, some older codes that are out there and there's a, you know, there's not a whole lot that changes inside of those, those plants that you have to kind, you know, worry about too much.

It's little odds and ends here, here and there. But at the, you know, at the laboratory there, you know, we had about a hundred or so buildings built and all, you know, Post Manhattan project to, you know, buildings going up right away and had varying degrees of technology and hazards. And, and so it was a lot of like a building by building assessment, kind of a thing, which, which was interesting and trying to figure out, well, how do we, you know, how do you do this work safely?

But at the same time, that's gonna protect the research and gonna protect the, you know, the client that's, that's working there. And, you know, and it was, that was some, you know, really great experience. And, um, I, I enjoyed the technical challenges that were there, but, um, you know, I kind of had always had kind of a, you know, a desire to get back towards a fire department.

Um, and you know, and most of the time you'll see, you know, those, those fire department, you know, career opportunities don't really come, come around all too often. So I kind of gotta. I was pretty fortunate that it had an opening pop up in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, um, as a fire inspector. And I ended up kind of, kind of moved up there and, and, uh, worked there for a couple years.

And that was kind of that, you know, and that, that was really awesome. It was like, you know, here's a, you know, you're working, working for a fire department, you have a community that you're trying to, you know, do code enforcement on. And, um, and that was completely, completely new to me. You know, I, I knew I knew the code.

I know how to like, navigate the code, but then you kind of learn about how do you physically apply that code and, you know, how do you take the, the code that's adopted in the jurisdiction and how do you apply that to a building is under construction. But at the same time, the building next door is, has been there for 40 or 50 years.

And, you know, it's kind of like, you know, at the, at the same time, it's not just. Coming in with, with the code enforcement hammer to swing around, but to, you know, as you're walking through whatever the business, how do you kinda, how do you find those spots where you can apply your, your education and your knowledge to, to educate, you know, the, the clients that you're walking around with and, you know, Hey, there's, there's a code requirement to do this, but, you know, Hey, this is kind of, this is why that code requirement exists.

And, you know, you know, pretty much all of the, all of that code book that that's out there is, you know, there there's a reason that that code was made. So, um, kind, helping to kind of share that as you're going from place to place. And so, while I was working up in the suburbs up there, I ended up, I get got married.

Um, and my wife was wife was from Helena Montana. So she, uh, she was always kind of wanted to get, get back to Montana. And, um, she attended school here at, at MSU. Um, and you know, we're kind of were sitting there one day and I kind of saw a job posting pop up for, for the MSU fire marshal position and applied and was fortunate to, uh, to move out here and, and to take that, that role.

So it's kind of a, you know, the college campus is completely, completely different than, uh, anywhere else that I worked. It's, it's pretty interesting. Um, but it's really, uh, you know, similar to a city, you know, we're kind. Our own little city in itself, but a lot of, lot of differences here and there. Wow.

That's awesome. It sounds like you've had, uh, uh, interesting career and a couple different, uh, guest people you could think of, uh, AJ as, as one thing, but really all of those, uh, parts of your career apply and are, um, interesting in and of themself. Uh, you had a lot of good points, some stuff I just wanted to circle back on is you're talking about, um, working for the nuclear plant and kind of doing inspections and facility, uh, maintenance slash uh, like looking at codes.

Um, yeah, I was just wondered, uh, what kind of codes are, are these facilities, you know, um, just maintained to, are these like department of energy codes and standards? Are these just your vanilla, like building codes, you know, or. Uh, yeah. What, what does that, uh, yeah, what is, what kind of codes are those, if you remember?

Yeah. So it's kind of, you know, it's really interesting. So when you look at nuclear power as a whole, across the United States, you know, there, there's not that many, uh, you know, it's kind of a fire, protection's a pretty close knit family, but you know, nuclear power is a pretty much a, a close knit family in itself.

Um, you know, I wanna, you know, I used to, you used to be able to know what I remember what the reactor count was in the United States. I wanna say it's probably about a hundred or so now. Um, but you know, it's kind of like one of those things to say, oh, Hey, you know, I work in nuclear power and it's like, oh, well, you work in, you know, you work in Florida.

It's like, oh yeah, well, you know, what plant do you work at? There's only, you know, two or three plants there, but, um, so, uh, you know, nuclear, nuclear power as a whole is regulated by the nuclear regulatory commission. Um, and they've kind of, it's, it's been interesting cuz you know, ever, ever since the inception of commercial nuclear power, it's kinda, you know, you know, fire codes have changed, but at the same time, nuclear safety has changed.

Um, so kind of the plants that the, the initial plants that were built and were licensed were, you know, that those codes that kind of constructed them have kind of changed time and time again. Um, and, you know, as we kind of, we kind of learned more about nuclear safety events, you know sure. Noble or a three mile island, or, um, most recently Fukushima kinda change all of that.

And, um, it's interesting because it's kind of, you know, that was kind of the walking into a nuclear power plant. It, it's kind of like, well, this is the first time that someone's telling you, well, I have a code that's, you know, more important than fire protection. And, you know, ultimately what, you know, nuclear safety that kind of nuclear safety in itself is paramount.

So, um, there's really a bunch of. You know, you could look at, you know, any given risk that could go wrong, um, in a nuclear plant and, and cause a significant event, you know, and fire protection is just one of those. Um, So the plant that I was at was a, you know, it was a relatively newer plant. Um, and so you can, it's, you know, the, the really cool thing about it and the regulatory environment is that it's pretty transparent.

So, um, anyone could go on like the nuclear regulatory website and, and kind of search to say, Hey, what, what is your, the plan's like licensing basis? And that tells you, you know, Hey, it was built to, you know, the sprinklers design was NFPA 13 and it was designed, you know, the 92 edition of the standard. And, you know, the fire alarm system was, you know, 1972, you know, F 72, but it was maybe, you know, the 1976 edition or whatever.

Um, but then it, you know, it gets to a level of detail too, where it says, you know, if you have a kind of a design, a deviation from what that design is, it's called out and. That licensing basis and it's approved, um, by the regulator. So, um, so there, there's really, a lot of, it's kind of cool to me that you have that level of documentation and that level of detail, um, you know, newer plants now are, um, kind shifting to more of a probabilistic approach to, to fire protection and, um, NFPA 8 0 5 is a, a big, a big deal now with, within the industry where there's actually fire modeling and, and it's kinda a more informed, um, basis of fire protection for the plants.

So it's it, the licensing basis overall gets, gets pretty deep. You know, I had some, some pretty thick binders on my desk that were that kind of documented that. And, um, but it was. You know, as kind of being the, the fire protection geek that I am, it's kind of, uh, kind of cool to be able to look and say, Hey, I have an antiquated Halon system, but I can go through.

And I know I have every single manual that I need and every drawing and any change the system is documented. So, um, definitely a lot to appreciate there, man. That sounds awesome. I'm really, uh, impressed about like hearing the level of documentation and detailing. I mean, it's, it sounds intuitive when you're talking about nuclear, uh, facilities that they would need this sort of attention to detail and documentation, but, you know, I always tell people as an engineer, um, my, essentially my whole job is, uh, making sure that, um, construction and fire protection systems and life safety is documented, you know, uh, and just like, you know, specifying these.

Specifying these, um, fire protection systems and just making sure that they are, the owner has proper documentation. And the ability to maintain these systems is, uh, at the core of what a fire protection engineer does for construction. So that's really impressive to hear about, uh, how you had all those manuals for the antiquated halo, Sy halo systems or, uh, whatever it was that was in the facility.

And yeah, I wish more, I wish it was easier to you look up that sort of information for just your everyday building. That would be awesome. I wish that sort of documentation was, uh, Industry standard. Also, another point you touched on was, you know, I really liked, um, when you're talking about your inspection job was, you know, how do the process of applying the code and also, but you know, not be, you know, beating people down with the code or kind of, you know, um, not being just a heavy handed, uh, with code enforcement.

And it seems to me that striking a balance between, you know, uh, encouraging business and. You know, but also being a code enforcer is, is something that's, um, wouldn't be easy. So, yeah, that sounds like a, like an interesting, interesting scenario. Yeah. How did you kind of, um, strike a, strike a balance between, you know, uh, educating people about code and codes and standards and their proper application, but not, you know, kind of cross over the line into just being somebody that is, uh, unreasonable or just wants everything to the exact black and white letter of the code.

Yeah. And, you know, oh, I'm like, and that's, that's tough. And, and it's really, you know, it's really kind of the, the constant struggle. You know, that you're trying to, trying to find maybe, you know, constant balance is probably really more of a, a better way to describe it, but, um, you know, the, the codes, the code and, and it's, it's there for there for a reason.

Um, you know, it's, you know, it should be, and is legally adopted, you know, depending on where your jurisdiction is and you know, how that's actually done might be a little, you know, may vary from place to place. But, um, you know, kind of my biggest couple, you know, my biggest couple things on that is just kind of communication and consistency and, you know, and that's kind of, if I, if I go into, um, you know, any given restaurant, no matter, you know, what that restaurant is, I need to.

Look for those, you know, look and document those same, you know, violations across, you know, across the board if I see them. Um, you know, but the other thing too is just to, you know, kind of communicate and go through and say, you know, Hey, you know, you know, this is what I'm seeing, you know, a lot of times it's, it's kind of a, uh, you know, it's kind of a part-time sales role where you're, uh, trying to explain the benefits and the features of, well, here's what, uh, you know, if you comply with the code, here's kind what it will get you.

Um, other times it's just kind of, you know, Hey, that, that exit signs burnt out, you know, I need, you know, we need a new light bulb or, you know, you need to replace the battery unit. Um, you know, some of them are, are kind of, you know, it's, everyone's kind of unique in where they're at and it, it's kind of a, you know, everyone's kind of on their own, uh, Journey, I guess if you will, to say, you know, here's what you can kind of understand about your building and here's, you know, it's, you know, they're, they're the expert in the operations of their building and, and the operations of whatever business they they're in.

So kind of taking some, taking the time to kind of listen to 'em and, and get to, you know, get to know people too, as you, as you walk around, um, you know, can you, when you, and kind of being, you know, you know, flexible to a degree where it's like, Hey, you know, I, this, uh, you know, you, this, all these boxes are blocking your exit.

Do you have time? You know, do you have someone that can move them? And, uh, just kind of, you know, you're calling it out and you're, you're noting it along the way, but, um, giving them the chance to kind of resolve things right away. Um, Is is huge. And, and a lot of people will kind of, kind of do that right away.

It's kind of, you know, you even at, you know, at home or, you know, at work for me. And, you know, when I, when I walk into work, you're kind of, you kind of do the same patterns every day. So it's like part of, it's kind of a, you know, the, the fire code as a whole is kind of a unique way of thinking. Um, and you're kinda constantly trying to, trying to learn it and trying to understand it, um, to ensure that the safety of everyone that that's in that building, whether they're working or visiting and then kind, you know, if you, if you do kind of find those violations and not, not everyone.

Not, everyone's gonna be super thrilled all the time, but, um, when you give 'em a violation notice, but it's gonna be, it's kind of one of those things where, um, you know, you kind of, you communicate and you, you communicate as, as much as you can to, to assist the situation, you know, you're, you're consistent in your approach.

And, um, you know, if you're in a, you know, community that has a, a strong code enforcement program, they, they have a process and you kinda just, you know, you're, you're sticking to the process every time. It's, you know, Hey, you have 30 days here. You have 30 days there there's no, you don't keeping it consistent for everyone.

Um, and then really trying to. Firm, you know, firm with everyone, but be fair as well, you know? Um, it's kind of, you know, there, there's some things that you can, you can kind of call out when you're walking through a building. Um, and you know, you can kind of get a, you know, where they'll, they'll fix it right then and there, um, you know, and just kinda help to, you know, help, to help them to understand and, uh, kinda know what know what's right and wrong in terms of what, what the code is.

It's, um, it's challenging, but there there's really a bunch of resources that are, that are out there to, to better understand the code and the intent of the code and, um, you know, and kinda networking with, with your peers and whatever the code enforcement agency is, um, is huge too, just to, to understand how, how people kind of learn about things and how they share those messages with others.

Yeah, that's an interesting point about, um, just coordination between other jurisdictions and, and other, uh, communities. As far as, um, enforcement goes. It's interesting to hear, you know, it's very commonplace in the fire service, but I imagine it's commonplace for authorities having jurisdictions too, to share resources, you know, and, um, kind of help each other out in regards to how they are dealing with certain changes in the built environment and just kind of sharing resources with each other and keeping everybody up to date.

You know, there's a real comradery there. And I've seen that. I was just listening to, uh, it was the NF B's podcast and they were talking about, um, the unique challenges that the cannabis industry is bringing to, you know, certain jurisdictions and how Colorado has been, trying to share some of their information with, um, with other jurisdictions about how they've been enforcing and, you know, kind of policing these, uh, extraction processes and the hazards that they present.

So I think that's a really interesting note about, um, coordination between, uh, jurisdictions and just, uh, I think that's valuable. Yeah, definitely. And, you know, and, you know, from a, and that's kind of one of the things, you know, and within, you know, back on the, you know, fire department days that, you know, you have a, you know, you have a big house fire, you're calling for mutual aid, you know, and you're trying to get, you know, you're getting all the help that you can to safely manage and mitigate that incident.

Um, and really that's kind of something that you, you can kinda, you know, is kind of a natural, natural correlation between, you know, the operation side of the fire department and the code enforcement side to say, you know, Hey, you know, whoever the town next door is, you know, Hey, I'm having, you know, having these problems or, you know, Hey, I'm seeing all these, these issues kind of catching up, but what are you seeing?

And, you know, how are, how can we kinda work together to, to help fix that? And, um, you know, a lot of, you know, a lot of the time, you know, there's some great professional organizations that are out there, um, You know, like NFPA and ICC and SF P and, and all those, all those other ones that are great to help.

And, um, but it's even just kind of saying, you know, Hey, let's go talk to the fire department next door and, uh, you know, kind of get, kind of make, make the code more locally, you know, to, to try to understand it and, and see what's really going on in the region. But definitely, definitely. That's all good stuff.

Yeah. I wanted to, uh, circle back to, uh, you talking about your, your current role and yeah, I wanted to hear a little bit more about, but, uh, hear a little bit more about how it's different, how the role is different. You were saying it's, it's a lot different than any other, uh, authority having jurisdiction role that you've had before.

So, yeah, I don't know. I thought that was interesting and it makes sense. And really my only. You know, experience with, uh, an AJ or a fire marshal for a university is when I'd be studying at the, at the OSU library. And they'd tell you to like, get your book bag out of the, the egress, uh, pathway so that you wouldn't be blocking it, or you didn't want to be, uh, have your, your, uh, study set up for finals in the, in the way of the path that egress.

So, yeah, I'd like to hear more about that. Yeah. You know, and it's, it's really kinda, you know, the AJ at a university really has a kind of a unique, I mean, it's a unique kind of position and, um, there's really, there's an awesome article about that in the NFPA journal, um, magazine, you know, that's published by NFPA, but.

That article's called school spirit. It was written by Justin Daniels and, um, he is the, the university fire marshal for the university of Oklahoma. Um, and he's also the, the president of the, uh, center for campus fire safety, which is one of those professional networking organizations that I'm involved with.

And, um, you know, he, he wrote article to say, you know, how, how different it, it is between a, a municipal, you know, fire marshal type, your traditional fire marshal role and what it's like to be, you know, within the university. And, um, you know, even kind of, to that extent too, it's, there's, you know, there's a lot of differences between universities too, between, you know, your private, you know, private schools and public schools and you know what, maybe a community college and, um, Montana, state's a land grant university.

So, uh, very similar to Oklahoma state, but, you know, we're, we're state employees and, um, you know, it. The university's been around for, for 130 years. And they're kind of the mission is to, you know, really, to, to go out throughout Montana and educate everybody that you can. And, um, and that kind of comes through to really everything that we do here.

And, um, it's one of the things that I really kind of keep a keen focus on as I'm working just in my, my day to day role. But, um, you know, and it's it kind of, you know, one of the things that I always, um, talk about too with, with folks that work, uh, work around me here is that, um, you know, the HJS not.

Really one person, you know, like if you go through and, and look at any kind of your, your NFPA standards, that your HJ could be a, a variety of people. Um, and you know, I am kind of one of the HJS for, for MSU, but, you know, we're within the city of Bozeman. So the city is also, you know, an, an AJ, but at the same time, the, the state's also an AJ and our insurer is an HJ.

Um, but you know, typically it's, it's kind of, you know, we are kind of our own little town, you know, we're, we're, we kind of have, you know, you know, when you're on campus, you know, we have our own water system and, but we, you know, it's kind of to degree, we, we operate our buildings, um, a lot longer than most, you know, um, uh, what you would typically see in a municipality.

You know, we, we have buildings that are buildings on campus that are over a hundred years old and, um, you know, they're still being, you know, they're still functional and they're still, um, you know, people are working in those spaces every day and, you know, how do you kind of, you know, how, I don't even know if there, there was a fire code in the state a hundred years ago, but how do you ensure that you kind of are managing the safety of the facility, um, year after year?

Um, and then you, you kinda, so you have kind of that, that as a challenge, um, you know, we, we have a lot of special events on campus and, um, we, there's a, there's a team here that that's pretty much their, their prime prime job here is to. Provide that college experience where you're getting, uh, you know, concerts at our, uh, at our football stadium, um, concerts at our field house.

And, you know, and then you're getting, you know, big, big names like Luke Combs and Kenny Cheney and, um, Elton John played here and it's like, how do you, you know, here we have all of these facilities and how do you kinda work the, the special event side of it to make sure that we have a, have a safe facility and have a facility that's gonna ensure a safe event.

And, um, Um, and you know, and kind of the other end of that too, is that you're, you're kind of it's part, part AJ and enforcing the fire code, but also kind of, you know, there's a degree of consulting that I do too, just to, um, help our facility services organization, organization here, kind of understand, um, you know, the facility management side of side of things here where it's, you know, Hey, we have, you know, there's buildings where, Hey, the, this building, the fire alarm system in this building is 60 years old.

You know, we really need to probably make sure we're budgeting for that so that we can make sure that our, our life expectancy of a fire alarm system is, is 20 years. So there's really, there's a lot kind of a lot that goes on. And, um, you know, the other part is that there, you know, you do hit, there is a, a student body here and there's a, you know, there's a research institution here to that, you know, Montana states.

Huge with huge with research. And, um, you know, last year, the, the research, you know, funds coming in to the university were like 130 million. So it was like, you know, an incredible, you know, year after year increases and, and the research that's being generated here. Um, but at the same time, you gotta kind of look at it to say, you know, well, here's a, you know, you have this cutting edge research project, and if they're working with, you know, lithium ion batteries or, or whatever phos, how do you apply the fire code to that and ensure that that protects both the research, the researcher that's working on it, and, you know, the university's property in the university's risk, um, from, you know, just a kind of an institutional standpoint.

So there's really, there's kind of a lot, a lot that goes on, um, And depending on kind of the, you know, a lot of the, you know, a lot of universities operate on kind of a similar framework. Um, but there, you know, some universities operate a little bit differently to, um, with how they, how they provide, how they kind of set up their fire and life safety programs.

That's awesome. That's really interesting. I like hearing about, you know, the intricacies of, you know, being a fire marshal or, you know, being a part of the, uh, entity that is, you know, the fire marshal for, uh, a state run college. That's very interesting, extremely interesting. You touched on, uh, a lot of.

Topics that I think would, we could go, we could probably spend a lot of time on, uh, but yeah, a couple of the ones I thought were were interesting is, you know, that the people use authority having jurisdiction or AJ, but yeah, it's you said, you know, a variety of people can be considered the authority having jurisdiction, you know, the, uh, ensuring agent or the, you know, the, the state or this or the city.

And so I thought that was a, uh, interesting point there. Yeah. A lot of times people just think of like one person or, you know, and like, that's it, but really there's a lot of different stakeholders for, um, a community like a college camp, college campus. And, you know, uh, a lot of people who can be considered as.

The the HJ. So I thought that was a great point. And then, yeah, I mean, about another thing you talked about that I thought was, uh, kind of mind blowing is yeah. Talking about a building that's a hundred years old and you know, I've been doing some research on, you know, the building codes and how long, you know, like your regional building codes have been around and it's like, things start getting real muddy after about 20 or 30 years, you know, it's like ICC has only been around for, you know, not that really, not even a generation.

So it's, uh, it's kind of wild to think about, you know, uh, what kind of, um, local regional code that a building was developed, developed, um, in accordance to, in, uh, yeah, a hundred years ago. So that's a really interesting point. I thought that was awesome. yeah. It's, you know, and it's really, it's kind of interesting, you know, and, and that's kind of where I go back to my, my nuclear days and I miss the documentation side of it cuz uh, you know, you have a building that is, you know, from the fifties and um, you know, even that building from the fifties is not, you know, the way it was designed has been added onto it's been modified, you know, there's been tenant improvements and um, you know, kind of like things to that nature, but, and then it's like, well, how do you, how do you really understand what part of the building, you know, what the code of record is on that?

And um, you know, we have a brand new dorm building opening up this fall and you know, like, Hey, you know, that's something I'm, I'm taking right now and documenting it just to say, you know, Hey, yes, this was built under the 2012. I C it's the, um, 2010 edition of N V 13 and, and 72. And, um, you know, hopefully kind of, kind of just kind of storing that away.

So, um, you know, eventually down the road that information's gonna be needed and, um, you could really kinda kind of understand those things as, as code changes and, uh, you know, cause co code change overall kind of never really slows down. Yeah. And you know, on the, on the note of documentation, just like verifying that you have as-builts that are, you know, worth the paper that they're printed on is such a hard thing to, uh, deal with existing construction.

And so many times there's, uh, uh, not as-builts that are, um, worth much, you know, maybe they were, uh, only good for like the design phase. And then by the time the shop drawings come out, it everything's totally different. So that's a constant struggle too, for, as, as far as documentation goes. Definitely. And, and, uh, you know, just, you know, prime example of that is that, you know, we got, we have, you know, several buildings on camp, you know, with all the buildings that we have.

I mean, we have a, a, a pretty good, good number of buildings that are, were impacted by the central sprinkler, the, the oing recalls, um, that kind of, that happened. And, um, you know, I wanna say there from the documentation that I found, it was, you know, six or 800 heads that were replaced. But, you know, it's kind of like, well, we, we replaced the heads, but then it's like, you still, if you look at the original documentation, you kind of still have a, still have a gap there to, you know, if we can, if we can find the sprinkler drawings for that building, but at the same time, they're they still show a recalled head and, you know, that needs to, that's something that really needs to live with that sprinkler documentation of the building.

Just so that, that part of history is there. Yeah. That's awesome. That's interesting dealing with those kind of challenges. It's, uh, infinitely fascinating to me, but, um, uh, well I wanted to get into some, uh, professional development topics since it sounds like. Really have a passion for fire protection and you are plugged in on some different resources and just like to stay in touch with, uh, the pulse of, uh, fire safety and of a wide variety of topics.

So yeah, I just wanted to get started with, uh, you know, is somebody who is aware, you know, or keeping in touch with, you know, um, Trends in the industry and whatnot, you know, what do you see? As I know we talked about a little bit before the show got started, you know, kind of the, uh, digital impact of COVID, but yeah, I just wanted to pick your brain on what you see as a, a trend in the industry or, you know, kind of, what do you see on the horizon for, uh, fire protection and life safety?

Yeah. So I think, you know, kind of, as we kind of talked about it a little bit earlier, but I'm like, you know, it's really kind of an interesting time, um, to be doing fire protection in a, in a COVID world. And, um, you know, one of the, I think the trends that's gonna really benefit the industry. The, the connectedness of COVID, it's kind of a, a unique connectedness where, you know, you could jump on a, a video chat with someone and, you know, you're, there's probably more people using, you know, instant messaging, you know, Microsoft teams type apps.

Um, and it's kind of a, an acceleration into the digital world, I think. Um, and, you know, that's kind of exciting for me. Um, I kind of kind like that aspect of it. I like to be able to, um, kind of find information and, and find it quick. You know, I keep, you know, all of my files are stored in the cloud. I, I, I kind am completely board that.

Um, but you know, kind of, I think, you know, one of the, the huge trends that, you know, that you're a part of too is just the. You know, and the, the podcast world is, um, kind of seeing what you're doing here with, with the podcast and, um, you know, the fire sprinkler podcast and the expect inspect point podcast.

There's, you know, there's a lot of, lot of awesome podcasts just specifically coming out for, for fire protection. And, um, ICC pulse has a great podcast and NFPA has a podcast out. Um, and it's really, it's kind of a, you know, I, I like podcasts cuz it's, it's a quick, easy com you know, commute kind of a, a deal that you can kind of listen to something.

Um, and you can, you can really learn along the way. Um, and it's kind of, I see, you know, from my perspective, I see a lot of, kind of like an, an entrepreneurial kind of a spirit between, you know, Coming out of a lot of these different, the fire protection podcasts that are out there, the fire protection blogs that are kind of popping up.

Um, and what is, you know, the, the real awesome part to me is that it, it's kind of, it's kind of spreading the word, um, in terms of, you know, here's, you know, here's the fire code, here's, here's true fire protection and, and here's how you can, you know, kind of help to understand that. And you're not, um, you know, I, I still get the, you know, all the NFPA magazines and stuff, but it's, you're not just waiting on the NFPA magazine to come once a month, you know, that you can, you can kind of log in and see, you know, here's an awesome post from, from Myer fire, um, or the building code blog and, and take a lot of that.

And it's like super practical information and, and it helps you understand, um, really some of the pretty complex sections of it. So, um, I think kind of overall. It's kind of increasing that accessibility of, of what fire protection is. And, um, you know, I'm, I'm a huge fan of Oklahoma state. And, um, but to, you know, I also know that the, the OSU grads that are out there, the, you know, the Maryland grads, the WPI grads, um, you know, there's really only so many that are kind of a fire protection grad out there.

And, and, you know, there there's a ton of retirements happening and, um, finding ways that you can, you know, how do you, how do you kind of get some of that legacy knowledge and, and keep on, you know, keep passing it on and keep transferring it. And, um, you know, really to make, make the, the, the nation and even the world, just a, a safer place from fire.

Yeah, I think that's a great point. What you said about accessibility and just, you know, providing, uh, lowering the bar to entry for these complex topics. Um, I, you know, I, I can say from, you know, my relatively, uh, short career that I've seen just an explosion of, um, online availability for, uh, fire safety and fire protection system knowledge and, you know, yeah.

I love the love, the fact that, you know, of course, N F P and S F P have, you know, Beautifully written, you know, gorgeous content, you know, but they only are coming out with this kind of, uh, information, um, you know, whether it's a month or maybe even less, you know, and sometimes it's, you know, not exactly what you wanted to learn about or, you know, it's just not their fault, but, you know, I'm, I'm so happy to see, uh, other people, you know, posting things and, and kind of, uh, cultivating this environment of people wanting to share the, the sticky parts or the, the difficult parts of fire protection and, and just kind of make it easier for people to.

Experts on this stuff, because I think it's, it's so important, but, uh, no, I was just gonna say that. Yeah, there's a lot of, there's a lot of, I love listening to podcast too, and I've listened to all those ones you've mentioned. Uh, I think I've at least listened to clips of inspect point and the fire sprinkler podcast.

And, uh, I've listened to, uh, the one I just listened to, I really liked was Viking. Just put out a, they have little like a video series for their, um, deluge valves. And, um, I thought that was really interesting because like a frequently asked question for their delish valves. And, uh, so I thought that was good.

I've, you know, we do a lot of high expansion foam work at the company I work for. So just to understand the different actuation mechanisms and some of the frequently asked questions, I'm like, I love the. there's a video out there where people are talking about this sort of thing, cuz people need to know, you know, these are not easy systems, you know, a daily system with the electric, uh, activation and, you know, flow control, trim, you know, fed by a foam pump is not a simple system.

So, you know, any sort of information on these topics, I'm just like, yes, this is great. I'm all about it. But, uh, yeah. So I totally resonate, obviously with that, uh, with your, uh, kind of statement on about, you know, the trends and the kind of deluge information that's been kind of COVID has definitely helped kick along.

But, uh, yeah. So, um, I think I want to, uh, I think I wanna end it with. Yeah. What if you were getting into fire protection or becoming a authority, having jurisdiction again, uh, what piece of advice would you, would you give yourself or would you give a professional, um, getting into the field? Yeah, no, I mean that, that's definitely, definitely a great question.

And, um, you know, and it's kind of interesting cuz you know, there there's a lot of AJS out there that they've kind of, you know, if you, if you talk to some of the fire department guys, its kinda, everyone has kind of a unique journey on how they, how they got to where they're at and how they, how they became the HJ and um, you know, especially, um, you know, kind of being kind of being a, a younger age J um, kind of, you know, the first thing I would, you know, definitely do is, uh, you know, recommend, find, finding what kind of network, um, You can kind of plug into whether it's, you know, uh, you know, a bigger, you know, national type network.

Um, if it's something that, you know, if your, if your local area has some sort of, um, fire prevention organization or association, um, you know, that that would be a huge, huge help. Um, but even just to say, you know, kind of figuring out, well, how are you gonna, you know, how do you sort your files and how do you kind of build your library and, and understand, you know, um, kind of, you know, retain a lot of what's in the code and, um, you know, just kind of, you could, there's a lot that you could find just from, from scour and Google and, and seeing what's out there, but, um, you know, really it's kind of, you know, kind of plugging.

To the knowledge that's around you, whether it's it's in person, you know, there's Facebook groups, um, a lot of different, uh, you know, kind of age J based Facebook groups, or, you know, even, um, you know, NFPA 25 inspector type groups or, um, ISET type groups on, on Facebook, which are, you know, I'm not, not a fire alarm tech by any means.

I kind of pretty much touch, reset and silent and that's about it. But, um, you know, there's a ton of information that you can kind of glean from, from those, those groups and, and that, you know, and what's out there, but, um, and then really kind, kind of building those relationships, but at the same time, kind of keeping your eyes out and keeping your eyes open to see, um, you know, see what, uh, see who you can kind of help out along the way.

You know, there there's a lot of, lot of folks that are out there that, um, You know, typically I don't, I don't know if you'll you'll really meet any AHJ. That's gonna say they got more, you know, plenty of, of help in their office and can manage their workload. I, you know, I think pretty much every HJ that's out there is kinda kind of overworked and underpaid and, uh, dealing with staffing issues, but, you know, and that, that's kind of, that's kind of part of the part of that challenge, but, um, you know, kind of, kind of plugging in there and, um, seeing what you can do to kind of expand your network and, um, and sharing what you learn along the way.

That's great. I think that being connected and, you know, finded people who can tell you how to build a, you know, uh, a better mouse trap or an R situation, uh, a better documentation system, uh, is something that's invaluable and, you know, So I think that's a great piece of advice. Well, uh, Jake, I just wanna say thank you so much for coming on and, uh, I really appreciate it and, uh, hopefully we can do it again.

Definitely. Yeah, no, thanks for, thanks for having me on and, uh, yeah. Look forward to future episodes and, and learning more. Thanks for listening everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business. The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes and standards interpretation.

Be sure to contact a licensed professional. If you are getting involved with fire protection and or life safety. Thanks again. And we'll see you next time.