Feb 8, 2021
Christina Francis is the Technical Director of Global Fire Protection at Procter & Gamble. In this episode of Fire Code Tech, we get into some incredible technology and smart life safety systems while also discussing Christina's career. Tune in for discussion on fire suppression and the future of data-driven decisions in fire protection.
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.
You're in the right place. Welcome to episode 22 of fire code tech. In this episode of fire code tech, we have Christina Francis. Christina is a fire protection engineer at Proctor and gamble. In this episode of fire code tech, we talk about a bunch of really neat and. Popular topics in the industry like storage, um, internet of things and smart fire suppression and fire alarm devices.
Also, we get into Christina's fascinating career and the global impact that she has had. As her time as a fire protection engineer, if you're a fan of fire, suppression and technology, I think you're gonna love this episode. Christina talks about some integration with fire suppression and data, and the new way that technology has been able to integrate and make smart decisions with data.
And if you have interest with where the future of fire suppression is headed, I think you're gonna love this. Don't forget to follow us on social media and subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast. So you miss an episode. Let's dive into the show. Well, hello, Christina, thank you for coming on the show.
Thank you. It's my pleasure. Awesome. So I just wanted to get started with a little bit about, um, your career and how you got into, uh, fire and life safety. If you wouldn't mind giving the viewers a little bit about. Yeah, perfect. So I actually, um, have a bachelor's of mechanical engineering and my first job outta school was with Becktel and the first, um, day of work at Becktel ever at the Savannah river site, I ended up, um, In a room with three people and one person wa they said, one person was gonna go to this group.
One person was gonna go to this group. And then to me, they said, you're gonna go to our sprinkler group. I said, okay, didn't really know anything about that. Um, but that is my great story of how I started in this wonderful industry. Yes. Um, I joke of maybe that was pre-planned maybe it was just the arrangement of how we I'm sure it was pre-planned but, um, no.
So I started at Beall doing, um, at the Savannah river site and did, um, design and layout a sprinkler pipe. We were retrofitting a bunch of DOE facilities for, um, Sprinkler pipe. So I started actually in the field doing design learning, CAD, doing, you know, plugin, chugging calculations, that type of type of work.
And it was great. And went on from there still stayed in piping, left the sprinkler world for a little while, went on to do some, um, construction engineering, um, still all with Beal. And then after that, um, went on to. Property insurance. So with IRI, which industrial risk insurers and did that for a few years also.
So did that whole lo insurance loss prevention. I think that kind of hooked me that I was pretty much gonna be staying in this industry for, for, you know, as long as I could. And from that, I then jumped into the corporate risk management job or role, and I, um, Now I for the past. 22 years, I've been managing, um, the global fire protection program for Proctor and gamble.
We see all types of, um, I would say our, the fire protection world looks a little different, but everything that I learned in the past applies to what I do today. That's awesome. It's good to hear about your, uh, background and, you know, uh, you speak about, um, your time and. More on the installation side or closer to the installation side of things and, uh, how that experience I'm sure.
Is still, uh, impacts, um, maybe in some small way, how you, how you look at fire protection systems today. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we, I was, you know, walking around and looking up a lot, you know, where's the best place to put the pipe or to hang it. I had some fantastic mentors, um, at the time too, of. I learned very on that, just cuz you know yeah.
You could route the pipe there, but is that the best place, most cost effective place, you know, are you still gonna get all the, um, you know, what about the calculation part of it? Is it gonna, is that the most best route for the water? You know, so actually we, we didn't, we didn't just do it with drawings.
We actually had to go out in the field and, and lay everything out, like literally pipe by pipe and. You know, in our office, we, if there was a design change, the field would always during construction, the field would call and say, you know, this can't work because, you know, give their reason. And then whoever did the design had to go out to go, um, figure out why.
And. Then, you know, write up a change on your drawing as such if that was the case. And we really didn't wanna have a design change, especially in office, right. You didn't wanna be known to the one that always had the, the changes, but it was truly fantastic experience. I would say though, back when I started, you know, N F P 13 was, I don't know, um, a hundred pages maybe if that it was, you know, pretty 50 pages, it was.
Then compared to what it is today, there weren't that many choices of sprinkler heads either. But one of my first days at work, my job was to read 13 and learn it. So that's what I did. I, I think I still have the copy someplace probably today where yeah, I read through it. Not knowing again, anything.
Sprinkler systems other than maybe an irrigation system that I helped, you know, my grandfather installed our yard or something. And so that was about it, man. That's uh, I could see I've worked for a fire suppression contractor right outta college. And yeah, I could, that sounds like a, in a great learning experience, but also the contentious situation where you'd have to go out to the field and talk.
Foreman through your logic on, you know, uh, design change. I know that that can be a, um, a sticky situation, you know, it's, you don't want to step on anybody's, uh, toes as far as, you know, explaining why or why not. It wouldn't work. And you know, there wouldn't be too, too slow to tell you, uh, you know, why something wouldn't work.
Right? I did. One situation. And I don't know if my manager at the time, you know, put the, put the fitter up to this or anything, but I'd had a situation where they called me out to the field and said, you know, this isn't, they had, not that it wouldn't work, but the fitter decided that, you know, they had a better idea and wanted a design change because they're, um, They felt that their pipe routing was a little bit better.
And, um, I said, yeah, it may be, but mine doesn't, doesn't not work. Doesn't not work. And so I wouldn't sign the design change. So I, um, again, I don't know if my manager at the time just said, oh, let's see, you know, How much I would push back on either. So I didn't, I've never seen the design change and made him change it back to what was on the drawing.
So it's just one of those, one of those little memorable times for me. So it's important to know when to, to stand your ground professionally. So that's a, I'm sure that felt like the, a victory, you know, but it's my small victory. Yes. Yeah. But, uh, that's awesome. So I wanted to, you know, Hear a little bit more about, um, your role at, at Proctor Proctor and gamble, you know, um, kind of where you started and, and where you are now.
And you know what maybe a little bit on, uh, how things have changed, but yeah. Really interested in that. Yeah. So this is actually a really easy, um, easy question as I am doing pretty much what I started doing 22 years ago. Um, typically at P and G it's a great opportunity cuz you come in and um, you can.
Rotate and grow your career as much as you want. Um, internally, uh, I have always done fire protection at P and G. So I came in doing fire protection and I will most likely retire leave doing fire protection with that we, um, what's really changed is when I hired in I've changed organizationally. So I've gone from, um, originally.
My role was part of our property insurance group. And, um, currently I've gone through a couple of different organizations doing the same thing, but I currently sit in our global facilities, um, group. So I am in corporate engineering now, which actually is a great place for the technology to be. Yeah, that's I really appreciate that background on your time in Proctor and gamble and.
Yeah, I don't know. Uh, I still, uh, don't know if I have, uh, like a great sense for what a day in the life of somebody who would be in, um, like facilities in like corporate facilities and fire protection from, uh, you know, a big picture from such a large company like Proctor and gamble. Maybe you could. Give a little bit of exposition on, um, what kind of, of roles in fire protection that you're involved with to paint the picture a little bit.
If you wouldn't mind, my day, it changes every day, obviously changes every day, but, um, there's a little bit out there. It really starts with, I look at myself as I'm a, basically an in-house consultant. So in, in my role, I set our standards for. Global standards on how are we going to best protect our, um, businesses?
So I, I actually, um, for my disclaimer is I actually work look more towards the property side. So, um, property loss prevention and business. So how do we keep our businesses running life safety is really held more at our plant levels. And so it's definitely one of those top. Definitely our, you know, one of our principles, but, um, so they talk, I won't talk specifically about the life safety aspect of it, as much as the property control outside.
So with that, I, I am looking at how do I consulting for how do we keep our, um, property. Um, standing and our business is operating. So we set our standards based on that and, um, on a global basis. And my, our goals are that we, we don't have to change our systems every time we change our either products or change our, um, Maybe how we're doing something in manufacturing or packing or anything like that.
So that once we build something, we don't have to continue to retrofit it. So we look at things I would say somewhat in a. Um, one size fits all. Um, obviously, especially with all the stuff that we have out there, there is not one size that will, will fit all. But we, we really do wanna try to look at, at, um, minimizing the times that we have to touch the sprinkler systems, um, or fire pumps or any of that, any of the, um, fire protection systems.
So with that, I, you know, a. I say I'm just a in-house consultant. So my customers are, are site leaders. Um, my project engineers internally. So my day, really, it, it definitely varies all the time. Um, and what I can do whenever I think, oh, today I don't really have much on my calendar today that can quickly change.
Um, really look at it. What email questions have come in as kind of my first thing is, you know, what's happening, um, around the globe overnight. Uh, And what questions have occurred? Um, I get everyone's project review. Uh, so sometimes, you know, it's just a quick glance, even though it's been reviewed by our third party a quick look and see what happened on the review itself.
There's, you know, some people ask questions specifically to a project. Some contractors there may have been an issue that something was designed wrong or installed wrong. And then I know how, what do we do with that? Um, What is the easiest again, cost effective solution while still maintaining, um, our intent to protect, you know, sometimes there's new.
Well, always, I think there's always new projects that come through to ask a question. So of on the design basis, what do we need to do? There's um, yeah, I could say questions about temporary storage even though. I think everyone in the industry could understand what does temporary really mean? Um, yeah, there new project initiatives, you know, new products, you know, how do, how would they burn?
What do we do with that all types of, um, of fun, interesting stuff. And then on top of that is just the, how do we grow our systems and how do we change them? So how do we innovate differently? To, um, You know, help our systems, help our sites, do things, um, with less touches with more, um, you know, more, um, digital innovation, smart technology.
How do we grow that system? How do we change something that is very typical into something new so that we're just not standing still with. That's that's awesome. That's really helpful to, to hear about, or really, and I find very interesting. Um, some of the things that you talked about. Yeah, I just would like to go over that point again, uh, that you, you know, said that you look guys like to design buildings for kind of a, like a one size fits all type of approach for fire protection, but.
I just wanted to remark like that must, you know, present some very robust fire protection systems, you know, with the kind of, um, commodities and, you know, things that can be found. I'm sure with the variety of, of the products, although I'm sure you guys compartmentalize for different facilities, but, uh, yeah.
I mean, that sounds like you guys would probably be interested in, you know, some of the more, um, Uh, complex and, um, just more robust fire protection systems. If you guys are approaching the buildings and, uh, more of a one size fits all approach, which, I mean, I feel like is a common, uh, thing in the industry as well, but yeah, I thought that was interesting.
Yeah. Our one size fits all really is that we design warehouses for group a plastic, cuz knowing that we're never. Even if we make, have something where the class, just class three commodity today, the chances of that lasting for 20 years is very slim. Right. So that, that approach too. So, yeah. Yeah. That's great.
Yeah. I was recently listening to a webinar with the NFPA and they had talk to yeah, yeah. They were talking to that approach and I was like, wow. You know, I've, you know, in a lot of the projects I work on. Start with, you know, four commodity class four as a baseline, but that, but I had not heard, you know, people saying, you know, start at group a and work your way backwards.
So I thought that was pretty interesting. Right. Right. Well, it's easier to manage, right? If you think of, I think in the industry sometimes, and I, I did listen to that webinar also, where if looking. To, to do base minimum all the time of based on what's, what you have at the site. And I think, um, Folks in the webinar, pointed it out.
Sometimes owners don't know what they have. Right. So you're asking a question in commodity classification of, we don't really, sometimes people don't know and they try to go down to that. Oh no, it's only a class three. I only went this now. I don't have to have the wa the fire pump. We must always have a fire pump cuz we don't have any, um, local water right.
Or avail or avail. So where. Where our sites are located, you know, we're not in the major cities or any, you know, so we're outside or outside of, um, more municipalities. So we have water in some cases, in some cases it's, um, a harder one to get in. So. To have enough flown pressure for any system, we will end up having a, um, a pump and tank.
And we want that reliability of that too. Cuz again, without a water supply, our sprinkler systems end up to be decorations. Right. Um, so, but with that, we, we look at every time a little change comes or if the incident occurs, having it designed for group a, we don't have. Manage through that. So if there was a change, we don't have to say, okay, you can only store five feet high instead of 10 feet high.
That's all touches at our sites that add, um, I would say unnecessary, um, time costs to it, right? So if I can only store five feet high instead of 10 feet high, I've lost half my floor space. Right. So it ends up being, I haven't never done this study, but for the. Little incremental costs to, you know, treat as, um, a group, a warehouse versus a class four warehouse, especially with today's sprinkler Heights.
I think, you know, we're talking very small, very, um, small differentials in, in cost versus the benefits we get. I am not on N FPA 13 committee, but I think it would be great if we had. Either a, you know, a very light hazard or it's either a light hazard occupancy, or it's not, or it's a group, a warehouse or it's not right.
Um, cuz I think some of our. Classifications, although they're great and very, they are, they are real. I don't, you know, sometimes, um, we complicate something that doesn't needs to be so complicated or so exact, I should say. Right. I mean, if that makes sense. Definitely. You know, I, I completely agree with you about, um, trying to provide, you know, if you're in a situation to, to provide the.
Like the premium fire protection solution. And, you know, I don't, I mean, most people are aware, you know, for existing construction to go back and touch a system. I mean, you know, as, as far as what it costs to do it for a new construction system, it can be, you know, double or more just to go back and, and, um, you know, alter that system.
And then. You know, that you're dealing with interruptions to operations. And so I can only imagine how those, um, costs can compound very quickly. I definitely understand what you're saying and, uh, I agree, but, um, yeah, another thing that I wasn't aware of, but, um, I, uh, somebody at the company I worked for, uh, said that they had been involved with a sprinkler sprinkler project with Proctor and gamble before for one of their facilities.
And they were saying that. Proctor and gamble, gamble has their own, uh, like, uh, standards or kind of criteria. I wasn't aware of that. We do. Yeah, we do. We've had 'em since I, um, started, um, originally we had a mix of our standards and at the time our property insurer standards, um, And our standard, our fire protection manual originally originated really more as, um, giving some training for around the globe.
So we had sites globally that really had never heard of, you know, think back 22 years ago. Um, never really heard of N F um, and we're trying to install an N F. System when that wasn't there, or it wasn't very common, especially contractors. And even for our site leaders, like how would we, what is it that you really need to know?
So our, uh, original standards had a lot of training stuff, had a lot of, um, interpreted stuff from N F P in today's world. Um, our Sooners are. I would say more reduced. Um, so a standard that may have been nine pages, 10 pages back in the day, maybe one now, as in, it's only for, um, when we differ from NPA or, um, we have our own maybe test state of how to protect.
So we try, or if it's something we just really have had issues with that, even though we may be exactly the same as what the industry says that we want to, um, to go ahead and. And put that into our standard. And as I said, kind of the one size fits all. If we went just an FPA, we, we could have contractors again, debating what our, what type of commodity do we have and or is this a light hazard occupancy or ordinary hazard?
But for us, we have standard, um, densities for our storage areas and for our non storage areas based on the, the height of our buildings too. So, um, So it makes it a little bit easier in some cases, cuz we can just say, you know, if we have a 40 foot high building, this is our, these are our only options versus all the options in the code right now doesn't mean that we say no to anything in the code, but this is where we, you know, we try to simplify it.
That's nice that you guys have an established baseline and an understanding of. Commodity classification. And I mean, I don't, I doubt that you guys could do business without that, but, um, yeah, I, as far as like, you know, owners who might not know what they have, uh, you know, I've seen the, the gambit of owners, you know, being like, I don't know if we have.
High piled storage. And, you know, they have 25 foot racks, um, you know, fill in like tires and tires. And they're like, I have the high piled storage. I'm like, you guys, you ha you have high piled storage and you know, this new facility you wanna create and we have to, you know, accommodate that. So, absolutely.
Yeah. It's definitely a, a knowledge. It's it's neat for me to hear about how you guys, uh, are involved with that process of, you know, having standards and criteria in a high bar for fire protection and right, right. That's something I like hearing about. Yeah. I was joking after the N FPA webinar on warehousing.
I was telling someone that we probably need an owner support group just cuz you know, a support owner sometimes get um, yeah. Oh, the owner didn't know the owner didn't so, which is true though. Unfortunately, I mean, things change all the times and you know, we can't be everywhere, but yeah. We know a lot of stuff, but sometimes that not all those things for sure.
For sure. So yeah, in the, in the vein of, you know, kind of like storage and, you know, the, uh, high complexity fire protection, mm-hmm yeah. I just, I mean, you've already kind of, um, explained a little bit about, um, how P and G you know, tackles some of. The big challenges for the, like your storage and, and, and manufacturing occupancies.
But yeah, I'd wondered if you had any more exposition on, you know, how, um, Proctor and gamble and you and your career have, um, tackled these very, um, tough challenges for fire protection systems. Yeah, so we, um, We have a diverse group of products. And so, um, fortunately being a leader in the consumer products world and a variety of business units, um, we, we have a lot of things.
And over the past 22 years, you know, I've seen a lot of things come in and a lot of things go also. But, um, we take a look at ours. We, we always, when we look at something new, um, and, or, and, or. Um, storage arrangements. We will take a look at, you know, what does industry say? What's, what's historical out there.
What is kind of the loss rate for it? Um, and then how do, how does that differ to what we, um, what we have today, right? So maybe it's okay. So. Packaging may be different or maybe, you know, the, the only thing that we have out there is, um, the code only allows up to a 30 foot high building or 9.1 meters, um, for those non us unit folks.
Um, but what if we, what if we wanna be higher? Right. What if we wanna go up to 48 feet? So, you know, where do we. What do you do? So I think there's a couple, I think times, oh, more than a couple we've actually been, um, we've found it actually very, um, helpful for us and to actually to go in, um, do fire testing.
So we've done all types of fire testing. We've done, you know, cone, Cal testing for commodities. Under the big cone, we've done small scale cone, um, testing we've, um, done a lot of full scale testing. And again, it's one of those where maybe sometimes it's to get the bare minimum, you know, like where, what, um, What, um, so what, what, where does that, um, can we, can we free the technology of how we differ?
Um, if there's something we stretch the code, sometimes we're not looking per se for, you know, we're, we're not the sprinkler manufacturer, so we're not looking for the sprinkler listing. We are looking really of, if the fire occurred at our site, would we be able to control it and control to us? In a couple different ways, right.
Um, we look at it as I would say, a very complex, but simple, right. In the sense of how do we get to a point where we can keep everything cool. Long enough so that we can get our fire, our look either our own, um, internal fire brigade or our external fire support to the site to help for extinguishment. So with that, we have, um, you know, every test that we've done, I think.
Well, maybe not every, I think we're probably a very high hit rate or of we have control, um, what we believe we have suppression, but then we always turn the sprinkler systems off at the end to see if the fire would rekindle. Um, I think anyone in the industry knows that, um, a lot of these incidents have occurred from people turning off the sprinkler system, too.
So we'll take what we have a very controlled scenario and we will start, like I say, at the very end, when we, it's a great visual, great training that we have, where we'll shut the system off. Wait a couple of minutes and what we always tend to have is some type of rekindling. And, um, it goes to the importance of that, you know, fire response on the other side is okay if we've turned them off, can we still see the fire?
Or is it up high in Iraq? Maybe you just, we do need to leave the sprinklers running longer. You know, the water damage is done. How do we, how do we keep things going so that we can actually say that, um, we have full control. That's fascinating. That's great to hear about, uh, you know, the different fire testing.
I mean, it's remarkable that you are involved with the company that, you know, not only, you know, cares for the premium fire protection solution, but also, you know, is, um, kind of stretching the, the bounds of the building. I think that it's, uh, you know, it's, it's interesting because the building code is, you know, kind of based on these, uh, standard parameters for, um, you know, the lion share of buildings, but it really doesn't encompass, um, buildings, you know, The direction of expansion and like, um, development of buildings that we're trending towards with the increased level of complexity.
And so, yeah, it's really interesting to hear about the, the way P and G is approaching. It seems like, uh, you know, very, you know, I'm used to providing the, you know, Good fire protection solutions and you know, up to code solutions, but, um, you don't always get to provide the, the premier, you know, like fire protection solutions with fire testing results.
So it's really interesting to hear about, right. And you know, our goal is to be cost effective. So when we again is okay, so do, just because we're a couple feet, maybe higher in a scenario in a storage, maybe building height. Do we really need to go, you know, install in rocks in every level, you know, that type of stuff is like, okay, so where does that, um, where does that break point for us?
And, you know, especially, you know, what, if we are, I would say back in the day, so there's a great example is we had a site that, um, Installed an ESFR system with K 22 S and, and in a 45 foot high building, the only issue, um, is at the time the building ended up to be 48 feet. So at the time that this was done, um, yeah, we.
We were, you know, three feet too high from what the code allowed with. No, in rack. So then the question became, do we install in racks or do you put a drop ceiling in just to meet that 45 foot high? So we actually went back to the manufacturer, started ask, you know, where was your limit? Where to go well at the time too.
Um, testing lab. Yeah. Uh, Heights were really limited to what everyone thought was 45 feet ends up at, um, one of the labs. You could go 48 feet. So we said, well, Let's test 48 feet. So we actually went with the manufacturer on that one, um, cuz they had an interest on what was happening too. So we started doing um, the 48 foot test and they actually then got that um, the K 22 as far listed for, um, 48 feet.
And then of course, after that everyone had a 48 foot high ceiling or 48 foot high option. So, and then we didn't have to do anything else. So other than tests, we. Our again, our, our goal is our own, um, property protection and business. So how do we, we wanna protect our assets and, um, with that, then, you know, we're done without having to go and do anything else to our systems.
That's a great story. That's awesome that you got to work with the manufacturer and, you know, push the limit on the test. It's funny how, you know, only recently, or I'm not aware of much higher listing for ES so far heads, 10 48, I guess I would think 50 is, would be what the max that I'm aware of. But, uh, that's pretty tall, right?
it does. Absolutely. But, um, so yeah. Um, you talked a little bit about, you know, innovation and, and how Proctor and gamble kind of stays on the forefront of fire protection systems and technology, but. I know you've had some experience in the past, and I'd love to hear about, um, you know, uh, how Proctor gamble works with, um, smart systems and kind of like the advancement of fire protection and, you know, the connection of things.
We, um, so this one of my favorite topic, if, um, for some of your listeners too, have probably heard me talk about this over and over and over again, but it is it really, I think our industry is typically been very, um, I say brick and mortar, but not in a negative way cuz I do, you know, I, I do love and respect this industry, but we are very much, um, You know, we still have people that have to go walk to read a gauge, um, fire pumps running.
You still are going to, um, typically people walking to go to the fire pump back in, um, around 2014. So it's been probably about at least five to six years. Now. We. Um, in the industry, there had been a loss at a protected building and there was a number of things going around. This was a little bit before that time of, you know, high bay, high challenge warehouses, how do you protect them?
Right. So cuz this one warehouse had just, um, burnt to the ground fully protected and everyone was trying to try to do something. Change the design of, okay, so maybe, you know, do, is it not ESR? There is racks, maybe it's two, two, cuz there is a, a huge firefighter challenge, you know, in a, in any type of rack storage, um, arrangement.
Whether I, I would, I would argue any whether if it's. You know, most times people say greater than 45 feet, but I would say any rack storage, um, fire is going to be of challenge anything, especially off the ground. Um, and, and so I went to one of the, um, symposiums that they did on this high challenge fire.
And a lot of people were talking like, well, maybe we put foam in the sys foam in the warehouse. Maybe we put CO2 and again, having. They were specifically talking, uh, these warehouses 45 feet and higher. Now my, my highest warehouse in the company is like 150 ish feet. Um, so I mean, and again, there's no manual firefighting.
That's going to easily occur again in any warehouse, especially one that is, um, High in the air. So we started and, and that's been a problem for a long time. I can go back to 40, 50 years ago and look at some of the documentation we had about how do you fire a fight in a high challenge, um, warehouse. So, and no one has a, the actual solution there.
But with that, when we started talking about how do you protect? And I said, To myself was like, you know, we, we've done a lot of testing. We've mocked up some of our, what I would consider our high challenge, warehouses, those within racks, um, those with in racks and barriers, those, you know, just, ESFR only, we've had very successful fire testing.
Um, and the industry has too, so it. Kind of leads you to, is the design the wrong thing, or is it the response, the wrong thing. But then if you put yourself in the firefighter's shoes, as you know, they show up at our sites, there's chaos, they, um, you know, there's smoke, there's probably flames and all this type stuff.
Well from being in the lab and doing testing, I thought, you know, in the lab, we. Basically monitor the water flow outta the sprinkler heads. So it became this idea of, Hmm, our fire pumps have been giving us data, um, at the time as say the fire pumps, but it really is. The water flow has been giving us data during all of our incidents.
That we could give to the firefighter in our incident command to say, you know what you have control at this time, or you don't have control. And with that meaning when they show up at our sites, how much water are we actually flowing? Because if I were to look at any fire test scenario where we consider that we've, um, that we have control, I would say that we.
We've been flowing a, you know, say 700 gallons per minute. We may, we've probably have flow, been flowing that for, you know, 10, 20, 30 minutes and there may still be fire, but it's ultimately gone out. So if you look at the fire growth curve, right, we've already hit our peak when the sprinkler system came off and now we're on the decline.
And then the question is, can we, can we keep that long enough? Um, we know in the lab, it may still be smokey a little bit, but we. With enough fire control. We were ultimately getting to that ambient, um, temperature in the area so that we can then safely go in and it really is giving firefighters, um, instant command data, um, to make decisions based on stuff that they've never had before.
We're not gonna lead them. They actually have control of the scenario of the situation when they come to this site, but this is just providing them with stuff. Cuz I mean, again, one of our, our PVPs our principles is, you know, we're protecting people and that includes anyone who comes on our site. Right?
So firefighters come on our site. We don't want them to, you know, We want them to, we wanna empower them to make wise decisions on what they should can do while still, you know, being protected. So, um, at that time we, we worked with, um, a pump manufacturer, came to us and said, do you don't, you wanna know everything about your fire pump from remotely?
And I was like, I kind dunked to us said not really, you know, Yeah, but we, we came to this conclusion of, you know, once we gather all that data, we can easily start, um, monitoring, fire pump performance. So it started off on how do we, if the fire pump's telling us what's happening during the event, let's gather that fire pump and we can, you know, possibly do a curve or something.
But now, now it's, it's gone to, um, on part of this app that we have now with fire connect, we actually can look at this app and during the incident we can, um, It's almost like an EKG right. Type deal where you can actually see how much water is flowing during the incident. So we have an incident command page of it so we can monitor it.
So fire department shows up, you can pull it up on an iPad and you can, um, say, you know what? We have a. We have a fire in this warehouse, we are currently flowing 500 gallons per minute, and we've been flowing 500 gallons per minute for the past 10 minutes. Um, on this app, you can see your, that our fire pump is running.
It's operating, you know, properly. We've been trying to put any of the, the major warning signals, um, on there. We actually have also, um, schematic of the water tank. Again, if you tell someone like, let's just let things run well with this, we can actually on, um, the water tank, you can we're, you know, calculating and giving that, um, instant commander.
How many minutes of water we have remaining based on that flow rate. So we may be refilling the tank. Um, doesn't really matter. We're taking head pressure on whatever is existing. So hopefully if the refills open, you know, we'll actually, it'll just continue to calculate minutes per the level. That doesn't mean that we're not gonna go check it visually.
That's a long, um, Test or a long fire or a long event, but this way we can actually go do that. And then that's actually grown. Um, now just our, our upcoming thing that we're piloting is, um, trying to be more sustainable with it. Now that we have a, um, water flow meter, like where we can tell how much water is flowing.
Um, you know, my, our next goal is, um, how do we stop dumping? Fire water just on the ground. So we're actually gonna take our, like our cooling water discharge, like per code. You're allowed to put it back to the tank as long as you're again, monitoring, um, temperature and flow off of that. But, um, And wanting to be able to monitor that in a way that we still maintain full protection.
Right. We don't wanna do, I've always had this thing as, as cool as it may be to do. We don't want to hinder our ultimate goal of, you know, Providing the protection for what it's needs. So as cool as it may be to digitally monitor certain things, we, you know, we don't wanna lose a fire pump because we were just being cool.
So in our sustainable world now, so we're gonna start piloting, um, digitally monitoring that cooling loop back to our app and, um, yeah, then go and stop dumping. You know, cooling water discharge on the ground each week. And then from there we can start, you know, take the fire pump, loop test, all types of stuff is dumping it back, cuz we'll have, um, yeah.
Um, in theory, our own, you know, pressure flow that we can pull digitally on the system. So, and then on top of. One of the greatest things about all this digital stuff is instant notification to our site leaders. They don't have to rely on just the guards or the main fire alarm panel saying fire pump running.
We can get a text notification, fire pump running. They can pull it up on the app. They can see specifically what's there. We even have, um, um, Pump house temperature now. Right? So before we just monitor low pump temperature, low pump room temperature, but you can imagine low pump room temperature, depending on where you are in the world, um, means different things.
So yeah, in some cases, if, as we're monitoring just below 40 is 30 90, if I, you know, our site's up north. 39 degrees is not gonna make them crazy. Our sites down south 39 degrees may start to make them crazy. Right. So again, if that happens, the, our site leaders can now just pull it up on their app, look at it.
And really when they're looking at their app, um, with the fire connect system, they can see everything that's, um, Basically can see the whole fire pump, jockey panel, everything. If the fire pump is running, they, you know, see that on there. They can actually go and look at the water flow. Is it running, just running or is it running with water flow and how much water?
Um, and then make decisions based on that too. Wow. That's a lot of data. Yeah. That was a lot of talking all in one thing, but yeah, no, I that's awesome. I'm great. I'm so excited. The whole point of this show is to, you know, talk about subjects you're passionate about. And I, you know, I love hearing about you talk about, you know, getting excited about being able to provide all this information and this.
Data, and not only be able to run facilities more effectively and more safely, but also protect, you know, members of the fire service. I mean, there's not too many more noble pursuits than that, but no, I loved hearing about all those things. I'm taking notes over here and thinking about follow up questions, but I love data, you know, I think that, uh, fire protection is gonna be, you know, trend as I think the whole world is on more data driven decisions.
So, right. I really liked hearing about, you know, the different points of data from the fire pump and the, and the wa fire protection, water storage tank. I think that's really interesting. I'm a, I'm a big, uh, suppression, um, nut. So I like really like hearing. Um, extrapolating all those different data points from the yeah.
Um, equity systems. Yeah. And you actually just learn. So one of the things that we have that you. I'd say data learning is, you know, jockey pumps. We, we monitor and have a graph of how many times the jockey pump started so that data's always been in the controller. Um, a little harder to get, you know, without, unless you go hit a bunch buttons or download the data and read a text file.
I mean, there's, but this is a visual and what we're, what we're doing now too, is actually text notifying. When the jockey pumps starts. Running more, a percentage based over what is normal. So, you know, so with our normal is say 15 times a day, but all of a sudden we're up to 50 times a day, then obviously, um, something's going wrong.
So it's gonna be a little bit more predictive, um, instead of waiting, you know, To it, other than cuz again, not many people just hang out at the pump house all the time, you know, weekly, they come in and it's like, how long is that jock pump running? Right. There's not that easy, um, predictive monitoring, I should say for that, but we're also doing one of the things we're doing is on our risers were piloting also.
Um, we put some gauges to. Basically read our gauges on, um, our risers. And it's been fascinating because at each riser, um, you know, it normal operation at that gauge and the lower gauge of the check valve, right. Is, um, Right there following the jockey pump on and off. What we've learned now too, is if a valve is shut going to it, which obviously seems very simple, but I can, if we shut a valve, um, Really within the cycle of the jockey pump, I can get a notification to my site leader that there's low pressure on that system.
Um, which is really fantastic. If you look at, I think a couple things, just the whole, um, system reliability, um, did the, you know, did my site leader know that that riser, you know, was gonna be closed? Um, was it gonna be. Um, did they know that they were doing work on it and that's been all the cases so far, but if some reason something was shut for, um, an unusual reason, they would be able to get that notification really as it's occurring.
And again, it's not just that Hays. For the tamper switch, being more supervisory saying, Hey, something happened, go check it. In this case, we would actually monitoring normal pressure or normal health of the system. It tells us when things are, um, again, trending off. So when that, so it's been, it's been really fascinating to see.
Well fascinating for some of us, right. To see how these things, right. So I think some people were like, okay, that's great. You know, systems are, but no, even when they, if they, if we turn the jockey, pump off how each one goes, and even for our sites, you can imagine our sites are quite large, but the differentiate, you know, elevation pressure, normal C right.
Um, You know, one system may be 1 50, 1 system may be 1 46. Right. But we don't when we are doing this and we can see it graphically, we can actually, um, we can see all these differences versus when you walk around, you know, it's like, yeah, it's 1 45 ish. Right. Um, so we're getting a little bit more data. And our, our goal there really is, um, It allows us.
We, we, so we tied this, which is we we're using a system from Cypress, um, environmental systems right now where there it's just like a clip on gauge to our existing gauge, but we're, we've actually taken that data into that fire connect smart platform. So again, when we go back to instant command, when if the incident occurs, you can actually access.
All the riser pressures if you wanted to by a click. But what we're doing also with that is it allows us to, to build in, um, in that click, you can get real time pressure, but what I can do is I've had, again, we're just, we've just started this out too, where we're, um, we can, we have fields in there to say, what is the hydraulic information?
So if you think of your hydraulic placard, you can actually. We can almost, we're typing all that into this real time data. And the point of that being is we go back to the incident, um, command and monitoring water flow. So if I tell, you know, the fire department, Hey, you know, we're only flowing 700 gallons per minute.
Maybe we should just wait. Right. But what it'll do is, is say we know riser five is. In alarm, right. Is the water flow switch. So we can then pull up riser five on this dashboard per se. And if we've added all our hydraulic information, we can then tell them, you know, Hey riser five has ESFR heads and it was designed for a total flow of.
Yeah, 1,271 gallons per minute. So we're only flowing 700. We still have some heads to operate before we get in concern area, because I think what happens right now is, you know, We'll open some heads. We don't know how many heads are opening. We don't know how much water is flowing. And we just know that there's fire there's smoke and the fire pump is running.
Right. So in this case, we're trying to again, give that data, but we also, we pay a lot of money for sprinklers to be designed for 12 heads of D PSI, whichever. So, yeah, we're not gonna have concern. Well, you know, great concern until we're, we're pushing that limit of the design. If that makes any sense. So this way we're giving that data, even if we were right at maybe we're flowing 1500 and the design was 1200, we're still, there's still a level of.
Concern, but if it hasn't changed, then it's like, okay. But our level of concern is gonna be greater if we're flowing more water than only one head at five, you know? So that's awesome. I really like hearing about the different, I loved your comparison to like an, like an EKG of the, of the fire pump. I was like, that's so telling of, you know, the kind of data and the sensing of all the hydraulics.
I'm picturing all this in my head, as you're describing it. You know, I, I really like, uh, how you talked about the, the jockey pump, you know, and that kicking on and mm-hmm and knowing that the valve was shut. I mean, wow. That's incredible. I mean, for a number of reasons, you know, inspection, testing and maintenance.
Yeah. Yeah. No. So the, uh, you know, uh, I mean, you, like you said, you. What if somebody didn't mean to shut it off and they shut it off, or what if somebody intentionally meant to shut it off and it wasn't supposed to be off. Right. You know, like all of these things, so yeah. That's and even if they it's really interesting, even if they meant to shut it off, is it back up and running?
So I've got some graphs now that I can see like normal operation valve set work being done during the day. And then really you can go back up to, um, um, When it is back on it's back to normal operation. Right? So again, my site leader where we're piloting, this can actually just, you know, pull up their, um, their data, right.
And their dashboard on here and say, yep. They turned it back on because it's not a question of, you know, What is like, it's, it's back up to normal operating procedure. So, but yeah, you, you hit it. You're exactly right. So we're looking at this, you know, our main goal is, um, reliability, right? How can we, how can we make sure that we have reliable systems of, if you look at the major losses that have occurred, normally it's a shut valve or turned off water supply.
Right? So, um, Losses that can occur. There's a number of losses, you know, that can occur because of a most obstruct or this and that. But, you know, are, are things that really make a difference in how a normal loss incident would change from normal to maximum, um, or MFL type event would be that there was no water.
And so that no water comes from valves. Um, valve shut. So no water to the system and or your water supply fully shut. So. Again, us monitoring those critical things. We have, um, you know, have a, a higher level of assurance that, you know, our systems are reliable and operating as goal number one. And then two is, as you said, inspection, testing and maintenance.
So now I think we're gonna be able to get to a more performance based on some of that as, um, again, do we really need someone to. Visually go check a gauge monthly when we're really pulling the data every 15 minutes now. Right. So we can stop, you know, having people. Whether our people, um, contractors, anyone stop walking around to, you know, take a, a clipboard and paper and write stuff, you know, and even flow testing.
If we're, as we're digitally capturing that information again, trying to not dump it on the ground, but also get data from the digital systems. Um, You know, can we, we, we can just plot out last year's test curve versus this year's test curve. Right. Without having to worry about the gate, you know, we all, anyone who's ever done a fire pump test knows, uh, you know, that gauge needle moves a lot.
so it's as simple as that. Right. Of like, okay. So yeah. Is that range one 50 to one 60? Let's go for 1 55. Right. But, well, as we're pulling, especially the fire pump stuff with sensors, It, it does eliminate a lot of that, that guesswork and we can actually take then good data curves and compare them on, on, um, um, to each other.
Wow. Yeah. I can't tell you, this is, uh, I don't know if you can get much more right up my alley than, uh, fire protection systems and, you know, suppression and data. But, um, I wanna be respectful of your time and yeah. I just want you to know that I could ask you questions about this stuff for, uh, you know, another two hours, but we can talk again.
No worries. Absolutely. Yeah, that'd be awesome. But yeah, I just want, thank you so much for coming on the show and yeah, it's been. Yeah, thank you guys. And best to you. 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. Thanks again, and we'll see you next time.