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Jan 11, 2021

Rodney is the President and CEO of the National Fire Heritage Center (NFHC). He’s dedicated most of his career in fire and life safety to working for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. In episode 20, we discuss how understanding human behavior and social interaction plays an integral role in providing fire and life safety in modern society. We also explore the fascinating collection the NFHC maintains and restores.

Would you speak about your genesis in the fire service? 2:02

How did you fascination with anthropology begin? 4:49

Do you have a particular fire or project that was extremely impactful in your career? 11:33

What kind of courses did you teach while you worked for the fire marshal?  13:56

Would you speak about your work with the National Fire Heritage Center? 22:39

Do you expect to have a physical location of the NFHC? 30:43

What kind of different pieces are in the collection of the NFHC? 33:17

What is one of your favorite pieces from the collection of the NFHC? 35:32

How can some one get in contact if they want to donate to the NFHC? 37:36

Would you speak about your organizational culture consulting? 39:47

What would you consider a trend in the fire and life safety industry?  48:02

Where would you recommend going to find resources? 55:47



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.

Hello, all welcome to episode 20 of fire code tech. In this episode, we have Rodney slaughter. Rodney is the president and CEO of the national fire heritage center. Rodney spent the bulk of his career as a deputy to the California state fire marshal. In this episode of fire code tech, we get into Rodney's interesting career in fire and life safety.

We talk about some of the interesting things that the national fire heritage center is collecting and how you can get involved. In this episode, we talk about the interesting parallel between anthrop. And social sciences and fire and life safety. Rodney breaks down some of the interesting pieces of the collection of the national fire heritage center and how some of them date back to the 18 hundreds, we speak about the origins of Rodney's career and the fire service and how he got started as a fire and crash rescue firefighter.

I ask about Rodney's interesting consulting work he does with organizational culture. If you're a fan of the show and you want to help us out, do me a favor and go follow us on social media and be sure to subscribe. So you never miss an. If you wanna check out more about fire code tech, you can find

Let's get into the show. Thank you for coming on the show. It's a pleasure to have you here. My pleasure, GU I appreciate this. Awesome. Well, I wanted to get started Rodney, with a little bit about your background and your origin and how you found yourself in the fire service. If you wouldn't mind. I kind of think that the best way, because I have over a 40 year career in the fire service is to.

Present and work my way backwards. So, you know, right now I am the president of the national fire heritage center, uh, in Emmitsburg, Maryland, just outside of Gettysburg. And, um, the national fire heritage center is, um, mission is to preserve the history of the American fire service. From that position. I just retired in 2017 as a deputy state fire marshal with the office of the state fire marshal in California, and a division chief within the Cal fire.

Uh, firefighting organization. I had been working for both the state fire marshals office and Cal fire for a good 24 years. And prior to that, I was a United States air force crash rescue firefighter, how I started, which is your question is, uh, back in the seventies, uh, I graduated. High school in 72, I inducted into the air force, right at the end of the Vietnam war and the air force at the time had a job guarantee program.

So I could go into the military with a guarantee of becoming a firefighter, uh, which would help me find a career after I got out of the military. And, um, and I could keep working. So that's kind of my Genesis. That's how I. Wow. That's fascinating. So, so you begin your career in the air force and crash and rescue firefighting.

And so how does your role in the fire service lead you to kind of more of the, the code enforcement division or that role? Um, at the fire marshals office, how does that transition kind of. Work from, uh, well, it it's interesting. So, uh, going into the air force as a crash rescue firefighter was an end to a means.

So, um, my, uh, academic interest is in cultural anthropology and, uh, I was working minimum wage part-time jobs, right out of high school, trying to support myself. And, um, you know, realizing that I wasn't gonna get very far in, in, uh, the shape that I was in. So I joined the air force basically because, uh, I could get a guaranteed job as a firefighter and I would get, uh, the GI benefits of, uh, full tuition for going to college.

So that's what paid for my anthropology degree. Wow. That's interesting, uh, about, uh, your fascination with anthropology and kind of how that's. Been a, a through line in career in your career from my research. Uh, so when did you know that you had this fascination with anthropology and just the culture of things?

Um, yeah. How did you kind of find out that that was something that really piqued your interest? I, I was president of the science club in high school. And, uh, I was interested originally in paleontology and geology, and I switched into anthropology, you know, as a teenager. So you, you, you explore lots of things when you're a teenager.

What's interesting is the segue from becoming, uh, from becoming a firefighter, working for the military, um, and really, um, Uh, having a blast, uh, you know, working as a firefighter around the country, I was stationed in, uh, Miami, Florida for a year. I was stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii for three and a half years.

And I worked as a civilian firefighter, uh, in Sacramento, California in that segue. Once I finished my degree in cultural anthropology, uh, to the state fire marshals office is they were looking for people that have a four. Fire engineering degree. And I I've been a little bit of an odd duck in that organization.

In that I don't come from the perspective of engineering. I come from the perspective of social science, the way I ended up getting the job, uh, was the fire marshal himself. And my third interview asked me, what does anthropology have to do with, um, code enforcement? And my reply to that is that.

Anthropology studies the pattern of human behavior. And when you're doing code enforcement work, different occupancies, present different problems that you have to watch out for there's different patterns, uh, that occur. And, uh, and that would make me a more effective code enforcement person, uh, than just an engineer.

And they. That's a good answer. I like that. I like hearing about your days in, uh, aircraft rescue firefighting. That's, that's very fascinating. It sounds like I feel that that being in the fire service is already, uh, something that people kind of have this notional idea of, but they don't really understand, or maybe don't grasp the full implications of, so I just like, in my head, I, I feel like I too have some question of, I don't really know.

A day in the life of an aircraft rescue firefighter looks like. Yeah. I mean, is it just like the same, pretty much as the traditional fire service or would you categorize that differently? Yeah, so I'm working for, um, the department of defense, you know, essentially the us air force and as a civilian at a air force space.

So it really doesn't look any different than, um, you know, firefighting anywhere else. And, and we'll get, we'll get to talk about fire culture. Um, but, uh, for the most part, I was an engineer, uh, on the first run engine that went out of the station for structural fires. Um, but we cross manned vehicle. So if there was something happening on the flight line, I had a, another set of, uh, turnout clothes already on another truck, a crash rescue truck.

That would then go out onto the flight line. So depending on the type of emergency was dependent upon which truck I jumped on, uh, with my crew. Yeah, I wanted to, uh, go back to something you touched on that I think, uh, rings true for me as a fire protection engineer, who's, you know, studied and interested in the phenomenon of fire and the way humans react with it.

And I just wanted to say that I really like that point of the culture and the human behavior around fire and how that helps you. In code enforcement. I think it's, uh, one of the more interesting parts of the analysis of fire protection systems and how we design safer buildings and safer fire protection systems is this human behavior piece that is understanding, um, how truly people interact.

And so, yeah, I just wanted to say that I, I think that's really fascinating and yeah, I think that's neat that you drew that parallel. Between these two subjects, culture, and the way that. That we live as a society and this phenomenon that can be a catastrophe at times that we know is fire, but maybe that's a long exposition to say, I like what you said.

And if you have more in that, I'd love to hear it. But I was just looking for job. I was, the question was the question. So it, it, it helped me, uh, tremendously, you know, in your world, in fire engineering world, you know, most of your clients, I'm sure. We just like to be told, what are the code regulations?

What are the code requirements? And, um, you know, the performance based codes, people just wanna know what the answer is and, you know, they want the same answer time, uh, after time. Um, but we also have the ability, um, beyond prescriptive codes for performance based codes. And I think that that's where. Uh, the social science part of this starts coming more into play.

Um, when you're designing a performance based, uh, system, you know, how do humans react? You know, uh, and, and it's not just for the occupants or codes or not just built for the occupants, but they're also. Built, uh, for the safety of the first responders responding to an emergency of that structure. So, you know, uh, I think that my world as a social scientist becomes more important in a per, uh, performance space code system than in a prescriptive code system.

Yeah, it's a, it's an interesting topic of performance based design because it's something that's becoming more and more prevalent. And if you take a look globally, performance based design in other countries is a mainstay of how people conduct business in design safe buildings is performance based designed, but it's something I'm fascinated with.

I, you know, essentially. Effectively all of the designs I've ever been a part of have been prescriptive in nature. So I'm fascinated with, uh, performance based design. And I think that, uh, in my career I will see, you know, a growth in people's willingness to, um, accept performance based design. But yeah, I think that's, uh, interesting note about culturally, how.

It performance based design is more significant of a concern in understanding the human dynamic, if that makes sense. Or if I said that correctly, um, anyway, so I wanted to get into, um, not to belabor too much on, uh, your history and the fire service, but I'm just really fascinated, uh, with your career. And I just wanted to talk about, um, yeah, I don't know if you had.

A particular, uh, project or fire that was indelible in your mind, um, from your career in. Uh, fire and crash rescue firefighting. You know, he had suggested this question earlier, you know, what was it in my career? What was a pivotal moment or an important moment? And I don't think that there's anything surprising on the firefighting side.

And I only did that for, uh, the first. 14 years of my career, the lion shirt of my career was working, uh, with the California state fire marshals office. And I, I would say probably the, the significant event for me, uh, was a couple of years in, into my employment there. Um, there was a, um, massive layoff. I had gotten a pink slip.

And what's interesting is because I worked for the state fire marshals office. They didn't require us to have, uh, certifications because we were the certifying body for everybody else. Uh, so when the layoff notice came and we were out looking for jobs and a competing. You know, with other people coming outta college with engineering degrees and things like that, none of us had certifications that would allow us even to get interviewed.

Uh, so my pivot point, they rescinded layoff notice. Uh, but my pivot point from all of that, that was really kind of a critical point in my career when I realized that just being a firefighter and just working a couple of years as a deputy state fire marshal was not. Uh, to keep me gainfully employed. So I started, uh, at that point, probably I was about 35 years old, 40 years old, starting to develop other skill sets within, you know, the fire marshal's office that could help me, uh, stay gainfully employed.

So I started writing grants. Uh, you know, I started doing a lot of other things other than just code enforcement, uh, related stuff, primarily. My focus was in training, you know, developing, developing curriculum, instructional design, uh, teaching classes up and down the state of California. Um, that was pretty much my bread and butter work.

That was work that I can take with me and have taken with me, uh, as a consultant at the same. From a research. I see that you had taught some courses in some emerging fields, like, uh, photovoltaic, but, uh, what are some of the other courses that you were involved in teaching for the state fire marsh? So this is, this is kinda interesting that you, uh, that you were able to research and tease all of that out of my background.

Um, so when I, um, uh, had a new fire marshal, come on board, uh, Ronnie Coleman, Ronnie J Cole. Uh, became our, uh, state fire marshal. And he basically merged the California state fire marshals office with the California department of forestry and fire protection, uh, to become the CA fire agency. It is today, um, and working for, uh, chief Coleman.

I was writing grants. I was writing grants on subject areas. So one of my first projects was on tire fires. I became a national expert, uh, on tire fires researching it. I hired, uh, researchers, fire protection engineers, actually outta Berkeley. Brady Williamson was doing some computer modeling on tire fires, uh, tall stacks of fires.

We had, you know, areas in California with 20 million tires in them. So I, I started out, uh, in the curriculum design business. Developing a training program for fire prevention and mitigation for tire fires. Um, that led me into, um, other projects, urban wild land interface. I've got a 300 page textbook on, you know, California's zone, fire prevention, mitigation for, uh, the urban wild land interface, um, electric vehicles, um, in the mid nineties when California had a zero emission mandate, um, to train firefighters.

On, uh, electric vehicle emergencies was seen as, uh, a mechanism to ensure that the public, uh, felt that electric vehicles were safe, knowing that the emergency responders could deal with any kind of emergency with. Electric vehicles. And then that led me into other alternative fuel vehicles. So I have another program out of alternative energy programs and, um, I've always been fascinated with photo Tex.

So basically when you put a solar panels on top of a roof of a house or big Bo box store that you have. You have the, the information you need as a firefighter on how to deal with that. And so that was another grant funded project. So I've had a number of really, really interesting, uh, grant funded projects that, uh, are relatable to the environment, which is kind of a focal, uh, focal point for me.

Uh, environmental protection, uh, energy production, waste management, all of these things then become fire related problems. And you know, how do we solve those in the fire service? So those were very specialized courses that I was doing, uh, for the fire marshals office. Yeah. As, uh, somebody who has an affinity for fire suppression systems.

Uh, yeah, I really am interested in what you said about tire fires. I know that they are high hazard materials and probably, you know, some of the most dangerous things that you could have, um, stacked up end on end. So, yeah, I'm interested. What kind of findings did you have from this research? I, I think that sounds like such an interesting story to be working with, uh, fire protection, I guess they would be researchers or scientists in Berkeley.

That sounds wow. That sounds like a movie. That sounds cool. yeah, exactly. Because we would pile tires. And, uh, and torch them. And we would, um, you know, measure the radiant heat flu that came off the tires. And then, uh, Dr. Williamson would then calculate and extrapolate, you know, how much separation needs to be between piles and, and things like that.

Uh, it was very interesting work, but, uh, what what's, I think fascinating how things come back around you. Decades later is I just added somebody to the, uh, board of, uh, directors for the national fire heritage center, uh, by the name of Dwight Williams. Dwight Williams actually responded to one of the tire fires that we have in California, uh, 20, some years ago.

And, uh, he's now we have a nice little chat about that. Uh, he's now working with me, um, on the. The national fire heritage center as a board member, there is a lot of information about tire fires. Uh, you had a, a significant one in St. A mob, uh, uh, in Canada and, um, You know, that, that, uh, case study as well as others, Winchester, Virginia, and around the country, you know, gave a lot of credence to the need, uh, to have some kind of a plan for, you know, protecting, uh, these large tire piles, um, the chemistry of the tires of change significantly as well.

And they've come up with better, um, ways of recycling them. So they're not stacked up the way they used to be. I could give you a whole class, it's an eight hour. Wanting to . Wow, that sounds, yeah. I mean, most people would be like, uh, I'm good. But yeah, that actually sounds, uh, pretty intriguing. I've given it about 20 years.

It's been a long time, but I still have mobile material. That's awesome. I wanted to also touch on the, the photovoltaic thing cuz yeah, it's I mean energy storage systems and uh, you know, the role that, uh, photovoltaics are playing in the environment of the fire service and, and fire prevention is still very prevalent.

I was, I was, uh, had a to add, I guess on, uh, I forget whether what social media was. Today and they, it was a roof shingled that was essentially a photo full takes, uh, cell or. Um, some sort of solar generation mechanism, right? The whole roof just looked like a glass shingle, if you will. Right. And so, uh, I was just thinking, man, that probably presents a pretty significant, uh, hazard for somebody trying to put water on a fire.

Or when that system reaches the end of life. Uh, I wonder if it fails gracefully, I'm not thinking that it probably does. Um, the solar systems take, uh, quite a while to degrade and the system that you just described, you knowed, uh, photo, um, then have to be wired together underneath in the attic. So, you know, each, each shingle or, uh, stack of shingles that they, um, install then needs to be wired underneath, as opposed to having panels, you know, that are put on top of the roofing system and then wired together on the top and then sent to the, in and to the, uh, You know, to the electrical system of the unit.

So, you know, there's so many different, uh, styles and types, and this is an area. I think if I were fire protection engineering, um, that I would want to keep an eye on because they have, uh, basically a windows that, you know, glazing that goes on the exterior. Walls that, um, can, uh, generate electricity as well.

And, uh, there's lots of examples of that in use around the country. So, um, you know, I think photo vault takes and the fact that we need to start decarbonizing our economy. Um, that we need to find a way of, uh, generating more sustainable energy sources. I think that, uh, the photo vault takes is one is along, along with wind power and so many others that, um, we really need to pay a lot more attention to.

I think that you're going to see too. We're talk about trends later on, but I think the trend is going to be, uh, to decentralize a lot of the energy production that your home or your business. Can generate enough electricity to sustain itself. And, uh, it could still be tied to the grid. And so, you know, energy back to the grid and that kind of thing.

So the smart grid systems that are, um, coming up into the future are going to be very interesting for, uh, people like yourself, working in fire protection engineering. I agree with you. Photo takes and, uh, alternative energy is not going anywhere. And so we definitely have to keep an eye on these. Hazards and just these, uh, construction means and methods as we move forward, I guess is the only answer.

But, um, so I wanted to get into a little bit more on your work with the national fire heritage center. Um, and just talk about, uh, for those, I know you already gave, uh, like a overview description of what that is. Um, maybe for the people who aren't aware, if you could go a little bit more in detail on, um, the work that you all are doing.

I, I think it's a really neat historical perspective on the fire service and fire prevention. Yeah. So I'm, I'm kind of excited. I, I just, uh, picked up the gavel, uh, for the president's office of the national fire heritage center and, uh, the, the national fire heritage center. Started out with a us fire administration study, um, you know, back in the late nineties.

Um, and they funded the study. Where does fire history go to? There are national. Uh, organizations that are collecting the history of the fire service, the Smithsonian doesn't collect it. And F P PA doesn't collect it. There's no organization that really has, um, you know, a sustainable archive. So they developed a document, uh, it's called heritage hall.

It's a proposal to archive. The history of the fire service and fire protection dis disciplines in America. And so, uh, what's really important about that title. It's not just about firefighting. It's not just about the fire trucks and, and, uh, you know, the hoses and nozzles and all of that. It also has a lot to do with your field as well.

Fire protection engineering. As well as laboratories and testing and things of that nature. There's a lot of historic information that is out there, um, that are in the hands of people who are long in the, like myself. Who've been around for a really long time and they've collected massive amounts of material.

And when they start passing away, Or having to downsize into smaller, uh, homes and, and that kind of thing, their relatives come in, they have no idea what the value of any of this collection is. And they either start throwing it away, or they're looking for fire museums or someplace to place it. And so the Nashville fire heritage center basically is going to step up to, uh, protect these documents.

Now, certainly we're looking at. You know, you know, the history of the fire service starts back in Ben Franklin's era and, uh, colonial America. But we've been in lockstep, you know, Ben Franklin also started the insurance industry. So we've been in lockstep with the insurance industry, um, laboratories, engineering companies, things like that.

And the data that's been collected. Or that was developed, needs to be collected. Uh, so that way people can research go back and see what, where did this code requirement come from, for example, and what event actually, um, started this, uh, code requirement, you know, uh, exiting hardware, for example, or one hour corridor doors.

You know, those kinds of things, um, occurred in the code because something. You know, typically somebody had died, uh, or many people have died or, you know, firefighters have been injured. So, you know, going back and collecting this kind of information, I think is, uh, informative for people today to be able to plan for the future.

We can go back and see the evolution of sprinkler systems, for example, or fire alarm systems. And, um, and then kind of decide, well, how can we make this program better? What did we miss historically that a technology wasn't available or material wasn't available, but it is today. That could then be used, um, for a future application.

So I think the national fire heritage center has a very big role into collecting as much material as we possibly can. Now having said that we're still a very young organization, uh, we're still, um, you know, trying to find our footing. We have no federal funding. Uh, we have no, um, major funding source, uh, right now.

So we're campaigning for, uh, people to make donations and, and people become members of the organization. There's a, a membership, uh, button and a donation button on our webpage. Fire heritage And, uh, that helps a lot because we need to scan material. We need to, to house the material, keep the material on, on storage.

It costs about $600 a year. Um, per cubic foot of material to have it stored. So when you calculate, we've got over 15,000 pieces already cataloged, and we've probably got another 15,000 pieces that we're unboxing right now. Um, that is a lot of storage and that, that there's a huge expense in, um, maintaining that storage alone, not to say, you know, to preserve it.

So some of the material is so old, 18 hundreds. Some, I think we have two pieces that are in the 16 and 17 hundreds, you know, that stuff needs to be preserved as well. So we're, uh, putting together a catalog and, uh, we're moving our catalog to an online, um, uh, data system, uh, called past perfect. It's a museum quality system and we're gonna connect that to our website.

So people like yourself. Can actually, if you're in school and you're doing a paper or a thesis, or if you're in a design, uh, capacity like yourself, and you need some information of what happened in the past, uh, you could go into our archive and you could basically find it, uh, electronically. So we're trying to scan as much as we can and get it, um, get it posted to the web.

Our goal is to have the new system up and running the first quarter of 2021. And, uh, we're looking at a partnership with Google, uh, and Google is gonna help us scan some of our, um, more rare articles. That's uh, that's incredible. I'd love hearing about that. Yeah, I think, uh, One of the great points that you touched on was fire prevention.

And the fire service is, uh, is something that is built on tragedy. And I think that, you know, through my education at Oklahoma state university, um, we were, you know, instructed on some of these historic fires. And so I think. History is an integral piece of what it means to be in, um, fire prevention in the fire service.

So naturally the preservation of these irreplaceable pieces of historical importance are it's a noble pursuit without a doubt. I think that's great. I'm so glad to hopefully shine a what little light I can on it for, um, those who don't know about it. I know that the way that I found out about the national fire heritage center was through a really, um, riveting picture of.

Students at Oklahoma state university learning about fire protection. I think it was like in the forties or something. And I was just thinking, wow, you know, my program that I am part of is nearly a hundred years old for, uh, individuals who are wanting to learn fire science and be in the fire protection, um, industry, or, you know, any, any fire and life safety, um, pursuit.

Yeah, I think that's so great. Yeah. Our, our mission is important. I'm excited about, cause I'm not only helping, uh, you know, develop the organization, but, uh, develop the organizational culture, uh, that goes along with the national fire heritage center. So I have. A really, uh, great team of board members who are fire service related themselves and board of trustees members as well.

And I've been diversifying the board. So we have a lot more females on board. Um, and we have a lot younger people on board as well, which is kind of important. And, uh, the new voices in the organization. Given that organization a whole new energy. So I'm, I'm really excited about what 2021 is gonna look like.

Sounds like you guys are really taking the charge on the digital side of things, as far as the archival and, uh, just the, uh, cataloging of these different historical pieces. But yeah, I didn't know if you guys had any thoughts of maybe having like a physical museum location at any point. Is that something you guys have talked about or had thoughts of?

Uh, right, right now we're in Emmitsburg, which is really considered fire town USA. Emmitsburg is where the national fire academy is. Um, right now the vigilant hose company is hosting us. They have, uh, an activities building we're on the second floor of the activities building. Um, they've been very gracious in allowing us to.

Um, start building our collection there. And, uh, as a collection grows out, we're looking for property. Uh, yeah, so, so definitely having a building of our own, uh, is in the cards and something we'll be exploring, uh, uh, more this year. Uh, but until we have a stable and reliable, uh, funding stream coming in.

Talking about a building, uh, right now is kinda just kinda wishful thinking I guess would be the, the best way to describe it. We're we're we're we're we're wishfully. That one day we're gonna have enough money, uh, that comes in and enough funding streams coming together that allow us to build a building and, uh, and be able to house this collection because it's gonna be huge.

When you think about all of the, uh, material that's out there in, in your own library, for example, right? Think of somebody who's been around, like John Bryant. You know, who's teaching at the Maryland fire rescue Institute and what we're is we're when we get a collection from a specific individual like John Bryants Coleman, we, the BII is

doing some, some kind of a research. So for example, Ronnie Coleman, uh, was an early, uh, adopter and proponent. Uh, for residential sprinkler systems, you may want to look at the Ronnie Coleman collection to see what he's read and the things that he's developed that informed his decision to hang into, uh, you know, to, uh, you know, uh, become a champion for residential sprinkler systems, as, as an example.

That's great. I love that it's categorized and you finds somebody who is really a hero and your preferred area of the, of the field, and you can kind of delve into what they thought was, uh, meaningful to. Um, consume as far as literature on the subject. So that's, that's really incredible. So for, for people who don't know, I've taken a look at the, at the website and yeah.

So for people who don't know what kind of media it can be found, um, in the collection, cuz it. There's quite a diverse array. So when you, when you talk about the history of the fire service, you know, you're talking about, we're looking at preserving the written documents, uh, primarily, but also there's an oral history.

You know, a lot of the history of the fire service itself among the firefighters was passed on. From person to person, it was never written down. It was the, the war stories, um, you know, of how they survived a particular incident. And it's those survival stories that you hang onto as a firefighter that, you know, keep you out of trouble in the next incident.

Right. And so, um, there's a oral history, um, segment. There is the written history. But as, um, the written history then becomes more diversified into electronic media, uh, print media videos, audio, you know, all of this stuff then becomes collectible, you know, at, at the point that they emerges the new technologies.

I thought it was, uh, pretty interesting, uh, for those who. Wanna take a look, I would say go online and, uh, check out the website because you can kind of click through the different pieces and it's all available for people to take a look at from what I could see. And so if you have interest, you know, go dig through some of the pieces that are available.

It's a big old database filled. Lots of stuff that any code nerd, self profess code nerd would probably want to take a look at. So exactly including heritage hall. So the, uh, original documentation by the us fire administration, heritage hall is also on the website. So if you wanna know about our strategic direction, um, you know, you could read through that.

It's, uh, it's pretty interesting. And I'm, I'm reemphasizing, you know, this original, uh, document. Uh, as we go into 2021, because it's got lots of important things that we need to accomplish. That's great. So yeah, I was talking about the, the piece that really sparked my interest in the, in the national fire heritage center.

But I didn't know if you also had. A a piece that you found that was, um, truly compelling, maybe just for your own interests, or I know you've given some examples so far, but I didn't know if you had one that was near and dear to you. Um, well, so, you know, as a social scientist and as a, and as a researcher, The kinds of stuff that I see the national fire heritage, uh, center collecting, isn't just the engineering stuff and the, uh, lab reports and, and things like that.

But it's also some of the other research that helps keep firefighters safe. For example, um, there is a, you know, lots of social science research, uh, and there's an article I've got sitting here performing under uncertainty that contextualization. Engagement in wildland firefighting. And basically this is an article, uh, a research, uh, paper that was done, uh, to look at, um, how we communicate with one another on a fire scene.

And how, how do we maintain a level of safety, the hierarchy of the fire service. Um, suggest that you just take orders. You don't, you don't, um, you don't provide input into that decision making model. That model is beginning to change significantly. Um, you know, as they've studied wildland firefighting, and as they've studied, uh, structural firefighting, industrial firefighting, they're discovering that there needs to be a level of, um, uh, trust.

A level of respect and, uh, a higher level of communication among team members, uh, that will keep them safe in the long run. And that's being documented now in a lot of the social science research that's being conducted. Um, at the same time, I like that. I like that. That's, uh, something that people might not, uh, initially come to mind.

That it's not just these documents about, uh, historic fires and whatnot, but it's also some documents that have a social perspective on the fire service and fire prevention. So if people want to, uh, get involved, you know, donate or, or if they have something that they, that they might want to send to the museum, how would they do that?

Uh, they would contact, um, any of the, um, board members. Or the executive board, but we also have an archivist on the ground in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and his name is Dick Devor. And, uh, Dick is a retired fire chief, uh, and he, uh, all of us, you know, just, um, Donate our time. We're, we're all volunteer. We're an all volunteer organization.

Um, Dick, uh, goes into the archives a couple of times a week. Um, pulls things out of boxes, checks our mail, uh, that kind of thing. He is actually a pretty good point of contact and his contact information is on the website. You he's the chief archivist or, you know, archive, uh, at, uh, fire heritage center.

Excuse me, fire heritage That's his email address. So you can just make contact with somebody in the organization and arrange for a drop off or a pickup. That's great. Saw a post I think today on, on LinkedIn and was somebody who had almost collected all of the, um, the old uniform. Building codes.

They were keeping an eye out for just a couple more copies. But yeah, for, for people who maybe aren't aware of, um, the history of the, you know, what the model codes were before the international building code, you know, there used to be a couple different model codes utilized throughout the us. In addition to all of the, uh, more specific.

Regional amendments stand or stated options, but I thought that was fascinating. Yeah. That that alone could be an entire career. Just keeping track of all those code changes. The evolution of the code. For sure, without a doubt. So, Rodney, I wanted to talk a little bit more about the consulting work that you're involved with and you know, how you help companies, uh, talk about, um, how to create sustainable, sustainable and meaningful cultures.

Yeah. I think that's interesting. It's, uh, kind of unique. I don't, I don't think I've ever seen a fire in life safety professional with that sort of, um, interest or passion. Right? Exactly. Exactly. You know, there's um, I don't know where to start with

guessing. So working as a civilian firefighter, In Sacramento, California, I was going to school, um, studying anthropology and a turning point for me was a book that came out, uh, by Terence steel and Allen Kennedy called, uh, corporate culture, the rights and rituals of, um, Corporate America. And I, I, through that book, I instantly saw the application of my anthropology to an organizational application.

And, um, my assistant chief that I was working for at the time, uh, was. Tasked with trying to change the attitudes and behaviors of the firefighters that you know, were working in the department. And, um, you know, knowing my interest in, in, in this work, uh, he asked me to design a program. And so we, um, We sat down and we defined the core values of my shift.

I was using the, we had a two shift system. Then at the time, the other shift was my control group because they weren't doing anything. And my, my shift, um, basically sat down and defined the core values. So what was it that made us. A success. And once we've identified what those values were and we defined it, then we, uh, came up with a system that reinforced those values.

So every time we gave, uh, a training class, everybody was tasked to teach some aspect of firefighting throughout the course of the month. Um, if you're teaching hydraulics, Ground hydraulics or SCPA systems or whatever you had to do it within the context of those core values. And, uh, the program became extremely popular.

Everybody on the shift was really excited and, and, uh, we really, uh, made an impact in terms of engagement, uh, and in terms of employee morale and in, and in terms of what, um, The firefighter saw in their management. And so it was a, a pretty impactful program. And that success is what kept me into, you know, wanting to stay in this area for a long time.

I just finished my degree, uh, uh, with Pepperdine university as an organizational development, and I've got my master's of science and organizational development. And there, my foundation as an anthropologist is then amplified. With, um, the organizational development side of things. It, it's hard to answer your question specifically because it's a very general, if I go into an organization just as I did last year, I went into a, a combination fire department, um, and did a cultural assessment.

And, um, as I'm collecting the data. I recognize the fact that the, the volunteers and the career firefighters don't respect each other. The young guys don't respect the old guys. Um, the men don't respect the women. You know, the, the, the story goes on. Everybody was in silos within this organization. So we went back to, uh, once we've done the initial.

Analysis of the culture went back and did workshops on respect, you know, what does respect look like? How does, how do you feel about that? And, you know, giving the people, uh, a mechanism to define their own terms and share that definition with one another. So everybody's operating from the same sheet of music, uh, essentially.

So that's the, that's kind of the crux of the work that I do. And it's easy for me going into a fire organization because. They don't have to teach me first, what it means to be a firefighter. You know, I I've already done that job. So I, I know, uh, essentially, and basically, you know, what firefighting entails, you know, shift work, uh, going out on campaign fires, I've done all those kinds of things.

You know, I've worked as an engineer. I've worked on the prevention side of things. So I, I pretty much have a pretty good idea. So it's an organizational culture that I don't have to be explained to. Um, but every organization has a different culture. You know, the, uh, the small combination fire department I did in Northern California would be completely different than say Chicago fire department.

I mean, the culture. Completely different. So, um, you know, that's, you know, that's the aspect for firefighting, and then we could go back to that for a second other organizations that I might not have as much experience in I've I've. Um, I've done some, uh, light industrial. Um, I'm going into those organizations, uh, pretty much, uh, you know, wide-eyed, uh, there's like so much going on when I walk into, uh, a new business that I'm absorbing things like, like crazy, and it's really a lot more fun for me to go outside the fire service and work in organizational, uh, cultures outside, um, and, and discover what they're all.

And, uh, uh, that work is, um, you know, that is just as fulfilling for me, you know, either, either way. I, I enjoy it a lot. That's very interesting. It sounds like, uh, it sounds like an interesting role kind of helping, uh, Promote being inclusive and also, uh, kind of workshopping different companies, um, strengths and weaknesses.

So, yeah, but it's a, it's gotta be a different, pretty different each time. It sounds like. Um, I'm sure there's no one size fits all for, uh, fixing company culture. Sounds like something that's pretty unique and it's something that like you work in an organization. It's something that the organizational leadership needs to work on every single day.

It's not something that, you know, uh, and certainly it happens, you know, culture just develops the behaviors, uh, the patterns of behaviors that people have organizationally develop over a period of time, oftentimes led by the personality of the leadership to begin with. Um, so my suggestion is. That, uh, we go into these organizations purposefully decide what kind of culture that we wanna have and, and build towards that culture.

So in your, in your line of work, you know, innovation would be very important. And if you have a leadership team that, that squashed your innovative, uh, uh, tendencies, then that would pretty much kill your desire to keep working for the. So, you know, um, the, uh, the culture and the leadership kind of work hand in hand and it's, uh, it's, it's really fascinating.

It really is a fascinating area. Definitely. Uh, innovation is a big thing, um, at the company that I work for. Uh, it's interesting, uh, you know, cuz there's a varying levels of how much a company will buy into. The latest and greatest technology, or maybe alternative approaches to design, or just some of these sorts of things that, you know, a company can take a stance on.

Hey, we, we do wanna be on the, more of the cutting edge of what technology can do and, and push the limit or know we're a more conservative company and we wanna be, uh, Uh, less innovative and, and, and more reliable. So I think that's an interesting point. You touched on there anyways. Well, I wanted to get into some, a couple of professional development topics to round out our, uh, conversation and just, uh, yeah, button up the interview.

But, uh, but yeah, I always love asking people because I, I feel like everybody always has a, a different answer and it's, and it's always interesting is, you know, what do you see as a trend in. Uh, fire and life safety, or just maybe in, in a more broad sense, um, in, in business. Right. You know? Uh, yeah. Do you have like a finger on the pulse of what you would call a trend right now?

I know we talked about a couple things. Well, you, uh, you know, you mentioned the word inclusiveness and in today's environ. Diversity equity and inclusion, I think are going to be really important going forward, uh, you know, bringing other voices into the room. And I, I, I, and, and this again comes from that anthropological perspective, is that, um, Different, uh, cultures, different people from around the world have a different way of solving problems.

They, uh, men and women look at problems completely differently, right? and so, uh, how they come up with, uh, you know, solving problems. So I think that the strength of many of our organizations and many of our, uh, you know, things that we should be looking forward to in the future is being able to. You know, bring people that aren't traditionally.

So, you know, let, let's be Frank, you know, the, uh, the fire service in America is predominantly a white male. Um, uh, and even in the engineering section, I, I I'm, I'm starting to see more diversity, but, uh, it has not always been that way, you know, bringing people in. That's not white. That's not male. That's not, you know, over 50, you know, that's, that's kind of an important thing where you have younger voices, you have female voices, you have people from different cultures coming in.

And I think that that is going to add your ability to solve larger and larger problems. So that's, that's the first thing does that, uh, does that work for. Definitely. I mean, I, I totally resonate with what you're saying, you know, the, the more, uh, different kind of voices and opinions that are at the table, you know, uh, people's perspectives vary pretty widely.

And yeah, there's lots of supporting research, you know, for that. And then the other part of this is technology. Cause you know, um, what we're doing. Is largely technologically driven and the safeguards that we can provide people within the, um, you know, fire engineering, uh, perspective, uh, I think is gonna, uh, happen, uh, through technology and even firefighting.

The itself is already being impacted. Uh, it wasn't that long ago where they're going to outlaw drones. You know, over wildland fires and now they're using drones to help identify the wildland fires and the, and the perimeter of the fire and things like that. You know, it seems incredibly ridiculous that we're still sending live human beings into very dangerous, um, life threatening situations as firefighters, um, where we now have robotic systems that could do the same.

Automatic sprinkler systems and, uh, detection systems. You know, all of that I think is going to, um, only improve and get better. Building materials are going to change. So it's not just the people, uh, in engineering, but there, uh, there are inventors out there that are using new materials or new combination of materials to come up with better systems.

And so technology, I think, is gonna, um, be a, a, a big factor. And, uh, in the future without a doubt, it's pretty interesting. Did, you know, even in my short career, some of the advances in technology and, you know, um, what's been happening as far as, uh, suppression and detection. So, uh, I get really excited about the.

Systems side of things, you know, seeing some different, um, innovations like electronically controlled sprinklers. And you know, some of the more advanced means of detection and initiation, uh, are some things that I kinda get, uh, revved up about. But. Yeah, I definitely hear what you're saying. That makes a lot of sense.

You know, I have, I've had this, uh, philosophy and I've shared this over the years that the fire service is pretty much a generalist kinda, uh, occupation, uh, occupationally, you know, firefighters are. Or, um, electricians or carpenters, uh, they're roofers. Um, you know, they work a lot in the trades plumbing, that kind of thing.

Um, but we've grown more and more, uh, over the past couple of decades, I've been in the fire service. It's more academic areas. Um, and I think it's important for people entering into the industry at large. Is to appreciate that it's not just one thought process, um, of a variety of disciplines make the strength of what the fire service community and industry is all about.

So, um, whether you're interested in, you know, uh, English or, you know, physics or biology, uh, anthropology, or any of the social sciences, you know, all of these things academically, Um, have a value and a place in, in the fire service industry. And I say industry at large, not just firefighting, but fire protection, uh, fire engineering and fire research.

Um, so I think that, um, having an appreciation for somebody who comes in with a, you know, a degree in fire science, And, uh, you know, bachelor's degree in, um, uh, administration, uh, public administration, you know, that's kind of the standard profile for a lot of people academically. Um, but, um, I, I guess what I'm, uh, suggesting is people like myself who have, uh, a different.

Background in social science or English. I taught grant writing. I, I traveled around, uh, north America, basically training firefighters, how to write grants. I, I would have a, uh, fire truck mechanic with grease under his fingernails, um, who could barely construct a sentence, write successful grants. So, you know, getting people to learn a little bit about grammar and English and honing their writing skills.

Is like cred incredibly important. So I think that we really need to expand our mind in, in terms of what a fire person looks like. You know, fire person could come from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds and be, uh, very effective. It's a really interesting point. I've never really thought about that before.

I was wondering on how much to try to butter you up to get you on the show. And you were saying, oh, I don't know how compelling my, my background is because it's not conventional. And I, and I wanted to say this and I typed it out and I deleted it. But, you know, I wanted to say, you know, I think some of.

Best backgrounds and, uh, careers in fire service and fire preventions are the people who come from, uh, non-traditional means and, and methods to, to make it to the field fire protection and the fire. Services's not a really, I mean, maybe the fire service, but not fire protection. Engineering is really a thing that, uh, most people aspire to be as, you know, three or four year olds.

You know, you don't hear any kids saying, oh, I wanna be a fire protection engineer. So I think it's interesting that, uh, a lot of people do come from various backgrounds. Well, cause the kids don't see the guys behind the, you know, they're not front, like the firefighters are. Yeah, I wanted to ask, uh, so what would you recommend to professionals for resources?

It sounds like you are, uh, a subject matter expert on, um, writing research grants and some of some different areas that are maybe not as, uh, prevalent in the industry. I'd love to hear about, um, where you like to go to. Get, um, information about these things or just about fire and life safety in general?

Um, yeah. I didn't know if you had any tips for the listeners. Not necessarily. I think that, uh, you know, this is another one of the technology things that there's more and more information available on the internet than ever before. And, um, everybody's now curing. A a computer and or hand that that has more capacity than the first spaceships that we sent to the moon.

Right. And so, um, I think the information is really available. You know, there's lots of information that's available out there right now. I think that, um, for people who are going to be successful in the future is to take the available information that is, that exists and recombine. And to new ideas and innovate, you know, off of the stuff that's already been done.

And, uh, so, you know, uh, from my perspective, I would say, keep an open mind and, uh, and be inquisitive, you know, just, you know, use your imagination and use your natural and innate, uh, curiosity about things in the world and, uh, and follow up on it and, and discover things for. Well, Rodney, I think that's, uh, a perfect incap to the interview.

Um, I want to thank you so much for your time today. Uh, speaking with me and coming on the podcast and, and yeah, thanks again, sir. I appreciate it. Gus. It was really fun talking to you today. 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.