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Nov 22, 2021

On this episode of Fire Code Tech we are catching up with Aaron Johnson. Aaron has over a decade of experience in the fire service and fire/life safety consulting. This episode is packed full of great content on aircraft hangars, EVTOL, and foam fire suppression alternatives.


How has the pandemic been on you and effected your business?

What kind of conferences do you like to go to?

Will you speak on your career shift and your new role?

What are your thoughts on the changes recently to NFPA 409?

Would you speak about some of your writing projects recently?



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, what's going on.

Y'all welcome to episode 41 of fire code. On this episode, we're talking with Aaron Johnson again. So excited to talk to Aaron. There has been a lot of shake up in the aircraft hanger and aircraft fire suppression industry. We get into some great nuggets of some foam alternatives, and what's been happening in the, uh, aircraft hanger industry and NFPA four.

Oh. Erin also has some great takeaways for people who are looking to get into the fire service and professionals who want to get involved with codes and standards. I really enjoyed this episode with Erin because we already had the baseline of Erin's career and some of the more templated topics of fire code tech taken care of in episode four of fire code.

And yeah. If you have any interest in aircraft hanger, fire protection, you're gonna love this episode. Don't forget to subscribe. So you never miss an episode and follow us on social media Owen. And if you could give us a five star rated review on apple iTunes podcasts, that would be awesome. So helpful.

Well, Aaron, welcome to the podcast. Welcome back to fire code. Awesome. Thanks, man. Thanks for having me. I'm glad to be here and I love listening to your show so glad it can be a part. Awesome, man. That's touching. I appreciate that. Um, man, so you're only my second guess I've ever had on a second time for fire code tech and one of the original, uh, I believe you came on before the podcast had even launched.

So. You're one of the, probably five people that I had on the podcast, um, who just took a huge leap of faith in coming on and talking to me. So, uh, yeah, it's been a, it's been a while. How have things been. Oh, things have been good, man. Things have been great. And, uh, you know, a lot of changes recently, always exciting stuff.

And, um, like I said, anytime that I get to talk about fire protection with somebody I'm always up for that. So yeah, that's a good deal. So, uh, H how was the. How was the pandemic in, uh, your, uh, section of fire safety? I mean, uh, you know, how did it feel writing that out? I know for me, it was, uh, a really busy timer.

It seemed like the emphasis on safety was only kind of compounded by the pandemic, but, uh, yeah. What did it, what did it mean for you in, in your line of. well, I think, uh, I mean, for me it didn't have, um, a huge impact. I mean, we, we still, we were essential, so I still went to work every day. Um, I guess some of the things that did change is our inspection schedules and those type of things.

We pushed some of those inspections, um, around a little bit, or we maybe had to reschedule a few things when not as many people are in the buildings are on site. Um, It was a little bit different, a little bit eerie with a lot of people, not at work, not on the site. So sometimes it seemed like a, a ghost town, but, um, but other than that, it was a lot of business as usual because, you know, we still had to be there and respond if anything should happen.

Um, and still do all the, we still had to be prepared for our audits and for, um, insurance inspections and all those things, even if they were. Over virtual calls and those type of stuff. So we still had to still to keep going and keep working. So not a lot, not a lot, really, um, different from me through the pandemic.

So yeah, I feel you, it, it seems like pretty much other than wearing masks all when I would travel, it's been pretty much, uh, business as usual, you know, masks at work mask traveling. But other than that, it's just been like full steam. Yeah. I mean, I would say that too. I kind of forgot about that. I hadn't traveled in a couple years, so I'll be glad to get back to that.

So looking forward to some conferences and stuff next year. Oh yeah. I've been wanting to it. I've been, so, uh, had so much FOMO about people going to S F P E and uh, N an FBAs conference is coming up online. Um, I'd love to go to some of those conferences that I heard a lot of good stuff out of people who went to S F P E, but, um, yeah.

What kind of conferences are, have you been to in the past? Are, are you interested in going to, as somebody who's been more fire service oriented? Yeah. So I always like the, I think one of, I go to lots of conferences every year and I've always tried to do that and I'm always, uh, I'm a big proponent of continuing education.

So, but one of the best, uh, is the national fire protection association of the N FPA conference every year. Um, it's always packed full of information and interesting people. Um, It's always in a pretty cool location usually. So I'm actually looking forward to going to that one, uh, in 2022. Um, I'm excited about that.

I go to, uh, I also look forward to the, a working group it's, uh, aircraft rescue firefighter. So it's a conference and an association for people that are in that industry. Uh, it's pretty, it's pretty interesting. There's a lot of. People from all different types of airports and within the aviation field.

And, um, a lot of, um, apparatus manufacturers, all kinds of vendors like that are there. So it's a neat crowd or different crowd, and you get some different types of topics to discuss and learn about some different things that you don't get at other conferences. Um, next year I'm looking forward to ill be going for the first time to the F SSA conference and, um, a couple of the Nafe head conferences as well.

So I'm kind of looking forward to. Trying those trying something new, um, and seeing how those are. So I'm looking forward to that. Oh, nice. Yeah. It's uh, some of the business development people in my company, like to go to some of those more general aviation conferences and I haven't had the opportunity to go to any, but man, it seems like just, uh, a hotbed for, uh, networking with professionals and.

You know, seeing what's happening in the industry and getting a pulse for, uh, where things are going. And what's important to the people who are in fire and life safety. But yeah, it seems like a good deal. But man, I was gonna say, you were talking about like, uh, people who, um, produce apparatus. Appra I don't know how you say it, but fire apparatus is apparatus, but.

People on the internet, love fire trucks. I, uh, it's been interesting. I was looking at like, uh, Reddit or something and like, there's basically some fire service, like Reddits, where they just will geek out so hard over fire trucks. and people love it on the internet. I'm always like, kind of blown away. I'm like, yeah, it's neat that it's a fire pump and a truck at the same time.

Y'all are going overboard on this. Yeah. They have a lot of those on Instagram too. So they always catch my eye and I'm not really, even one of those, like, uh, you know, like I'm not a, uh, what do I wanna say? I'm not like a kick the door down, die hard, you know, one of those types of firefighters, but even when I see those.

Trucks pop up on my Instagram feed. I always have to click on 'em and check 'em out. I don't know if it's something the photography that makes 'em look so great, or just the knowledge of the power that they have and what they can do or what it is. If there's something about that makes you click on that picture every time people, people love those.

I talk to, uh, One of the guys that had on the podcast, Mike Snyder. And he was part of, uh, like a historical society where they had one of the first New York super pumper trucks. And he was part of like some historical society where they like, uh, Um, kept up, kept that super pumper truck and whatever would, uh, get together and talk about it.

So it's, uh, remarkable to me how much people love those trucks. yeah, that was interesting. I think I, I remember listening to that when I was in interesting to hear him talk about that truck. Man, Mike's a smart guy. He was, he was, uh, we kicked around the idea of doing a whole podcast over the super pumper and he was like, he was into it.

So maybe I'll get, maybe that podcast will come out. I don't know it hasn't happened yet, but, well, that's neat. It was cool to hear about, uh, you've been how things have been going. But, um, another thing that I'm interested in hearing about from you is your, uh, the kind of career shift that you've had recently, um, going from working as.

More of, uh, somebody in the fire service and a fire marshal to, uh, moving towards more of your own consultancy. I'd love to hear about. Yeah. So I, um, I've worked in the fire service for 15 years in different roles as a, um, aircraft rescue, firefighter and inspector all the way up to, um, fire marshal. Um, and then I was just, I kind of always had in the back of my mind that I eventually would want to do some consulting type of work.

I didn't really ever know what that would, would look like, but, um, As time went on. And one of the things I became passionate about is, uh, codes and standards and developing codes and standards and being part of that process. And I've always kind of preached that whether I was a, at all my levels, whether as a firefighter and inspector fire marshal, I was always preached to our guys.

And anytime I got a chance to speak at a conference, I'd always try. Work that in the importance of being involved in the code and standards process, how it's, by the time you're putting out a fire, the firefighter you're already at somebody else's kind of will, right. Somebody else already made the decision on how you're gonna do that.

And, and they already made that decision. So it's very important to be, to be at the other end of that spear at the end of that spear, so to speak and, and writing and developing those code and standards. That's some I've always been passionate about. And, um, I just kind of realized, you know, there's a gap in.

Technology moves a little bit faster than the code and standards process. And there's a gap in that. And there's people that have, you know, they found a new way or they have an innovative fire protection solution for a certain fire problem. Um, and they know it works and we could see it work, but if it's not in the codes and standards, then, um, it's not gonna get accepted.

It's not gonna be an acceptable, an acceptable alternative or an acceptable solution. So that's something I'm always passionate about is helping those people in those organizations kind of move, move in that direction. So I've. I, I started doing that kind of on the side, along with my fire service career, about 10 years ago.

Um, I would take some work and do some side jobs like that for people. And finally just got to the point where I was, um, I was starting to refer people out and I started saying, Hey, what am I doing? I like doing this work. I need to stop referring these people away and just keep the work and do it myself.

And, um, so I, I made that transition, um, in October of this year. And so, um, it's, it's going well, like it's exciting. And I get to be involved in a lot of fun stuff and fun projects and different things, man. That's awesome. I love that. Uh, I love. You're talking about like a certain level of advocacy for, um, you know, fire and life safety alternatives, and how much.

It always has struck me as really incredible how much of an uphill battle it is for, uh, a product to make it into the fire and life safety markets. Um, whether it's the listing or just people having knowledge about the solution or kind of fighting the stigma of this is the way we've always done it. So I think that's a really interesting point you made about, you know, Working with companies and kind of, uh, helping build a knowledge base around, um, new alternatives and different projects.

I think that's, uh, that's a fascinating line of work. Yeah, definitely. I mean, it is it's, um, it's a. It's, uh, it's a long process and, uh, anything I can do to help people along that road, that's what I like to do and enjoy doing so for sure, for sure. Well, uh, you know, I know that, uh, something that's been, um, a lot on my mind recently and I've seen you post about it.

So I wanted to pick your brain on it a bit. Is. all of the changes in NFPA 4 0 9 and, and what's been going on with the, with the foam alternatives and, and that, and how that market's kind of been taken off. I've kind of felt. Uh, crossed on it at times, you know, I always want the most safe solution and the most effective fire and life safety solution to be, um, available and for that to win.

But it's, uh, I can't help it feel. A bit curmudgeony about, uh, you know, kind of seeing, seeing the, um, seeing foam not be, or kind of people shying away from foam and wanted to distance the industry from foam. So, uh, I feel, uh, I feel two ways about it, I guess, but love to hear your thoughts on that. Yeah, no, I think that, I think the changes.

And 4 0 9 are great. Overall. I think they're, um, they're needed and it was time for that. Um, we'll get to the phone alternatives a minute, but one of the bigger changes was the addition of adding in, uh, a way to do a fire risk based assessment or performance based design alternative, you know, and I think that's important because, um, one of the.

Areas of technology that I've been working in is when electronic vertical takeoff and lift aircraft or EV toll, um, and urban air mobility. So those types of aircraft that run out of electric or hydrogen, they're gonna require a whole new type of fire protection. Then a foam system will allow, so having a risk based or performance based design AC, having that actually now as part of 4 0 9 and written in there and pointed to, and a process and a system for that, that's gonna go a long.

Towards, um, better protection for these new technologies. So that's one of the biggest things that I was glad to see come into 4 0 9. Um, and then with, of course with foam alternatives, there's a lot of stuff out there. A lot of things out there and that risk based performance based design assessment is gonna allow some of those other things to come in.

Um, I don't know what you've been seeing Gus out there, but I'd like to hear what, hear what you've been seeing, but I've been, I've seen, um, started to see some, some people trying to push some water mist, um, systems. I've seen some Novec type systems. Um, but the biggest one we've seen too is the, um, ignitable liquid floor drainage assembly.

Um, it's a safe that safe spill makes I'm sure you've seen them around too. Um, those are some of the people that are starting to kind of. Realize, oh, there's a, now we don't have to have foam. So what, what can we use to replace that? So it's neat to see these other industries kind of starting to rise to the top and try to fill in that gap and say, well, we have a solution that we can, we can offer.

Yeah. I think safe spill was the first one that I got to, uh, speak with the safe spill people and, um, see their solution. And they came and gave a talk. Um, uh, gosh, I can't remember for the life of me, the fellow who's on 4 0 9 now. Tristan, Tristan. Yeah, Tristan and, um, bill, uh, came to, uh, our office as we do so much hang of work.

And we're talking to us about, um, the solutions that they're bringing to the table and, you know, Leanne who's. One of my biggest mentors was, you know, kind of was all open ears and, you know, interested in hearing about what they're doing. But yeah, now more recently, I haven't heard about the water miss, but I've heard about, uh, the, the Novac or the clean agent, which is, seems really counterintuitive to me for what a hanger is, the hazard, you know, the volume that a hanger, um, is associated with.

But, uh, yeah, just heard recently about that, but. Yeah. Tell me a little bit about the water miss. I mean, I understand water miss and how that could. Applicable, but, um, I guess I just haven't seen that. No, I just, I haven't seen it in person, but I've just, I haven't, I don't know all everything about it, but I've, from what I've seen, there's a couple different systems.

Um, um, there's a company called. VI fired kill. And then of course, Mar off is probably the biggest one that we would be familiar with, but they I've seen a couple different systems where there's one, some that are just, um, floor nozzles that pop outta the floor. And then I've seen others ones where they use, um, floor and in combination with some overhead water missed nozzles as well.

So, um, like I said, I don't know a lot about that system, but it's just one of the things I've started seeing, um, that people are trying to use in their hangers. So. Yeah, I think that's interesting. I think that there are, you know, I'm a fan of foam, but there are a lot of, um, complications. The system is complex.

The, it, the system is expensive. Um, you know, uh, the, the nuisance alarm, uh, kind of debate or just the statistics around nuisance alarms and nuisance discharges of these systems, uh, provide complications. I I'll acknowledge that, you know, I'm open to a different way of doing things. And I really like what you said about a more performance based design approach and, and kind of, you know, okay.

Let's, let's have some discussion here. It doesn't need to be all prescriptive and it doesn't need to be all performance based. So I think that's a good deal. Yeah, for sure. Definitely. . Yeah. Yeah. It seems, it appears to me. So like, I don't know about those Novec systems, but, um, I was talking today with, uh, one of the fire protection engineer I work with and I was like, how's this gonna work out?

Because like, uh, even a medium sized data center room is like for like a, maybe. Um, like, I can't remember the square footage as he was throwing out, but you know, like a quarter of a million dollar for like a medium sized data center room, which is like a couple thousand square feet, uh, could be a quarter of a million dollars.

And, you know, you got a hanger that. Could be what, you know, 40, 50,000 square feet. So how's how do those, uh, economics work? I just don't get it really, but maybe I need to talk to somebody about that. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I know that one of the demos I had seen online was, um, , it was kind of a, a system that works with your, you know, your de your detection system.

So when it detects the, the fire, it only activates a couple of, um, of nozzles where it needs to be. And they could be like monitor type of nozzles and the Nove was being expelled out of that. Hmm. So, you know, maybe the design isn't quite like a total flooding type system. It's more of like a, a monitor nozzle system where you put, like, you.

10 nozzles on each side of the hangar, then you only have a couple that have to activate where the fire is or, or something like that. Yeah. That makes sense. That makes a lot more sense and try to total flood a hundred thousand square foot hanger. yeah, I know. Right. but, uh, yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, it's uh, the hanger thing is it's a complex problem and for fine life safety, it's kind of one of.

One of those occupancies, where we get, uh, more of a seat at the table than, um, as compared. A lot of other occupancies, like, uh, business are just general storage or industrial facilities. So I don't know, I'm a little bit, uh, protective of this, uh, this big hazard and these, um, complex systems, but I'm excited to see, I'm always excited to see new developments and, and new good systems.

And, you know, I'm a, I'm a proponent that if, if a safe spill or if a water missed, or if a gas use suppression is gonna. Uh, you know, uh, the solution that is, is better all around economically safety wise and, um, maintenance wise. And I'm all for that, but it's, uh, it's been kind of interesting. I think, I feel like these changes in 4 0 9 have really opened things up.

Yeah, for sure. It'll be interesting to see what, what starts to come out of it. You know, so the new edition is up now on an FPA website it's already been published. So, um, you know, these things take a few years coup a year or so for people to start adopting and implementing, but, um, it's there. And so the good thing is that people that.

You know, are still in the previous editions of four. I, they at least have that document to point to, to say, you know, I know we haven't adopted this yet, but here's what this document allows. And here's how they got to that point. So hopefully that'll be helpful when these people are trying to use, you know, alternative, um, means and methods or other ways to protect the hazard that they have.

Hmm. Do you know if like, uh, most of these alternative solutions are mostly being used for like smaller hangers, like group, like, uh, two and three hangers, or you think that, um, any of these have a place for like group one hangers? I don't know. That might be too much on the spot there, but yeah, not, I think they all could.

Potentially be used for the group one hangers, but I think that what we're gonna start seeing first is the, the group twos in the group threes. Yeah. It seems like, uh, I saw a safe spill got there. Um, first military installation, which is a big deal, um, for, I think it was a temporary hangar structure, but, um, it looked pretty good.

Um, from what I could see on social media, Uh, so that's a, that's a big deal for them to get their foot in the door on the DD side of things. But, uh, yeah. It's interesting. So yeah, no, it's, it's good. It's really cool. Like, I, I like to tell everybody now's a good, it's a pretty cool time to be in the fire protection field, especially in, uh, in regards to aviation and all those kind of things that are all new, new developments, new technology, and, um, something's always happening and coming out.

So. It's pretty fun. Yeah. So, uh, I'd like to hear your thoughts on this. So I was reading, uh, a mere fire blog about, um, and I've heard some other people who went to the S F P conference talking about it, but, uh, just this notion that fire and life safety is, is having trouble finding people to come to the field and kind.

Needs advocacy for fire and life safety. Uh, I've seen that, um, in my, uh, short career, but yeah, I was just wondering if you've kind of seen that, uh, recently or just in your career in general. You mean like a, a shortage or a lack of people interested. Right. Is that yeah, really what it was about? Yeah. Yeah.

I remember reading that article too. Um, yeah, no, I think it's a true, I don't think that people are aware of it and of what all it is and maybe even of how to get into it. Um, and all the different facets and things that you can do. I know like, uh, for example, from the firefighting side and you go to fire academy, right?

That's all that's on your mind is being the, the guy. Goes into the burning building and saves the baby and, and, and that's it. But once you get there, you realize there's a whole range of other things you can do in the fire service. And still be part of that. If that's the path you want to take, um, you know, cuz dragging the hose and into the fire and kicking the door down, saving the baby.

That's not for everybody. Not everybody. Wants to do that or desires to do that. And that's not in everybody's blood. So there's all different niches. Like for example, you know, I decided to pursue the aircraft, rescuing the RF niche, right. Um, that's its own thing within firefighting, but also I, I wanted to pursue the fire inspection side.

Um, and so there's a lot of people that don't know that that exists and that in, in the state of Florida. And I think it it's probably the same in other states. Um, you don't have to be a firefighter to be an inspector. You. You can be part of the fire service and just enter that way. Right. And just do the fire inspection of fire prevention side.

Um, so I think, you know, I do see that, that there's a lack of people that are interested in that in the field. And, um, and I think it's, it's due to not knowing how to get started or how to get into it or thinking it's something bigger than it is one thing I'm always kind of surprised about is that, um, There's usually in the, in the, um, the, the NFPA standards that regulate fire inspector qualifications and those kind of things.

It seems like every time they come around for their. Update. That seems like someone always then puts a public comment for, um, you know, requiring a certain degree level associates. Bachelor's masters for cert different things, different levels of certification. And it always gets shot down. And I'm glad because part of it is if you do that, we're already a field that is having trouble getting people, right.

People seeing it. So now you're gonna make it harder for those, for people to enter it right. By requiring that they have this or. That they have a certain, um, college or higher education degree. And not that there's anything wrong with that, but, um, some of the things we do don't really require one of those higher education degrees, getting the people in, um, learn, helping 'em learn the code, um, getting 'em started and getting 'em passionate about the, this field in this industry.

So all those things that, um, they can bring that don't require a, a higher education degree. Yeah. I think that's a great point. Yeah. I don't know what the answer is for getting the message out about how much promise there is in the field and like career opportunity and like, uh, things that I've heard you say about, um, coaching people up and like getting them to get involved and to, um, kind of pursued career development and professional develop.

Um, yeah, I, I don't think that we need to be making more barriers for people to get into the field because, um, I think that from what I've seen recently, and maybe it's just a, a, a national trend, but seems like there is a shortage of, um, people getting into the field, uh, from my conversations with, uh, professors, from my program at, at Oklahoma state, uh, to.

You know, just, um, speaking with people like yourself, it seems like the consensus is that we need to find a way to, uh, increase the, the knowledge of our, our industry to people coming in to, um, I guess their working years. but, um, yeah. Right. And one thing too, I've always in the, from the fire service side, if you're a, a young kid or no matter what your age is, but you're trying to get into the, the industry.

You're trying to get into the work of the fire department, the path that people take here. And I'm sure it's probably true for other parts of the country is, you know, you go to the fire school, you get your, your fire certification, then you just have to apply for a job. And then the next thing people wanna do is, oh, I'll get my paramedic.

I'll become a paramedic. Cause that's usually. People look for to get hired. And so the paramedic program is, could be $12,000, right. Or more, and it takes a year. A pretty intensive year of education and doing, um, classwork and you have to do clinicals, those kind of things. And so I would always tell people that, you know, they wanna get into the fire service and they might be, maybe they have their firefighter certification, but I would always say, well, why are you gonna do the medic?

Because, um, if you have. One firefighter opening, or let's say there's five positions at a fire department. They're gonna have about 500 applicants or more for those five spots. But I said, if they have an inspector's opening, there's not gonna be as many it's gonna be, it's gonna be, you know, there might be five people that apply for that inspector's position.

So I said, why wouldn't you, um, Go and become a fire inspector, which is 200 hours of classwork. Some of those you can do online and then you take a state test, right. That's how it is in Florida. And I know it's different in other parts of the country, but there's always a similar certification program.

Right. That's and I'd always say. That's gonna open the door for you because if the fire service doesn't work out, that opens the door to other things, you go work for a sprinkler alarm company and do inspections there. Right? Cause you already have that knowledge of what the code's supposed to be. So it gives you a lot of other opportunities and other things besides just the fire service.

But sometimes it's hard to. Get people to expand their mind or to, to look outside of that traditional path, you know? Yeah. I think that's a great, great, uh, piece of advice. Aaron, I think that people need to hear things like that, you know, kind of other than going into the conventional routes that, that everybody's kind of aware of, but you know, there, there are jobs.

Being an inspector and, um, some parts of the industry that are always looking for people. It seems like inspectors is always one, but, um, on the more design side of things, it's always, uh, like suppression contractors, uh, or always looking for designers. So that's kind of where I got my start on the industry because it, they just can't keep enough people, um, designing these complex systems.

Um, so there's, there's lots. Uh, kind of pieces of the industry that will, um, constantly be of need of people. So I, I love that you highlighted a way for people to, to make it into, uh, department, um, in, uh, in an alternative route. But, um, yeah, so we were talking a little bit off air about a foam test that I have coming up, but I wanted to talk to you a little bit on the pod about it, but.

Yeah. I'm so for those who don't know, I've, I'm about to tomorrow and the next day go to my first, uh, preliminary and final, uh, foam test. Um, and I'm excited and a bit apprehensive about it, but, um, I know that I'm sure that during your time, Aaron, you've probably witnessed, uh, at least a couple of these have.

Yeah, I've witnessed a few I've witnessed, uh, we, I worked a lot more with low expansion foam systems than the high expansion foam systems. Oh, I got you. Yeah. It's interesting to me, it's been kind of a huge learning experience for me to go through the checklist and all the stakeholders involved and.

We're using some, uh, like, uh, an expensive flow control valve for the, for the deluge valve for the high expansion foam system. And so instead of, uh, having to simulate the fire sprinkler flow throughout of a test hydrant or the FTC. Um, they're gonna kind of dial in the, the pressure loss on the diaphragm, on the Del valve.

And so there's so many, just little, uh, pieces of the testing and the technology that have been kind of, uh, fascinating, uh, to try to wrap my head around, but it's been fun. Yeah, it's really cool, man. It's, it'll be a fun time. A fun experience. oh, yeah, for sure. Don't get, don't get lost in the phone. You know, not supposed to do that anymore.

Yeah. They, it's always funny to watch those YouTube videos, those people that get stuck in the phone. Oh, no trapped. And , that's dangerous. Yeah. I've heard people, uh, getting, uh, heard or, or entered or getting lost in the foam. But, uh, man, it's funny. There are so many other parts of it. Like, like they're talking about doing safety meetings before the, the phone test.

Some of those ancillary pieces of where do you, where are we gonna meet up? If things go wrong or, you know, on the site and all these kind of general components that are not nuts and bolts of fire safety systems that, uh, I was kind of surprised by. Um, now, do you know, uh, what kind of foam that they're actually using?

Like, is it a PFOS free type of foam or is it still just a traditional foam? Cause I know most people are trying to get away from that type of foam. Oh man. Um, if it is a PFOS free, you know what kind it, it is, cuz there's, there's not a lot, not a lot of brands out there. It doesn't seem like, yeah. Yeah. So I've had experience in a couple hangers so far with, uh, these are high expansion foam generators, uh, the Viking type, um, the new, the new Viking type, but we do have new hand host stations and I've had a couple hangers I've worked on so far that are using, uh, flooring free.

Um, foams in these hand hose stations. Um, okay. I forget what the name of the, the foam is, but man, I can't tell you, I've had this question so many times over the last year with PFAS becoming such a big thing. Um, one specific client we had, that's a fortune 500 client, but. They were. So I was on phone with their environmental, like the project managers for their team, just over and over again, kept coming back to us, you know, that, that, uh, that Indiana has, you know, required that all foam, you know, P F a S is not allowed anymore.

Right. You know, and we're like, yes, who is specified and designed that it's not gonna be, uh, PFOS foam. And, and we know that. Outlawed by bill HB dash, whatever, whatever in Indiana in the Indiana municipal code, like we're aware. Um, but, oh my goodness. In the last year I I've been, uh, grilled about by clients and just doing my own research about PFAS foams.

Um, it's been really, really interesting, um, and challenging to, to get people to people it's like PFAS is like her foam has become like a four letter word, like putting trigger in people. Um, after all the stuff that's happened with P a S. Um, yeah, it's something we never even talked about or thought about till about a year ago, right.

Or maybe two years ago now two and a half years ago, then it became a big thing and it's blown up. So, um, it's I always wonder what's gonna be the next thing, you know, in another 10 years, what are we gonna realize that we've been using that we shouldn't have been using all this time? Oh my gosh. Yeah.

yeah. I talked to, uh, I talked to, I interviewed, uh, somebody in the fire or who had had a history in, um, aircraft rescue firefighting. And they were telling me about how they had been battling, uh, Certain type of cancer that was, uh, related to some of the PFAS stuff. So, um, it's, uh, it's been crazy to see the impact in the industry and seeing those commercials on the TV that are like those mesothelioma commercials for lawyers.

If you have been exposed to P a S related firefighting foam call one 800 PFAS. Yeah. Right. You know, so it's been. It's been really wild to see the impact that it's made on our industry. Um, I found a guy who had a podcast where literally his whole podcast was to talk about PFA S he had like 10 episodes where all he did was talk about the litigation around.

PFASs like, you know, people who have been exposed, like people's horror stories. And so like, people are going in. I mean, I understand it's like people's lives here. Yeah. But still it it's kind of shock. Yeah. Yeah, it is definitely. Uh, how have you seen an impact, like, uh, like your line of work? I mean, I'm sure people are running for the Hills from, um, the P F a S is kind of ubiquitous or fluorinated.

Foams are all over the place, especially for low expansion, uh, for the DOD jobs that edict coming down for banning, uh, a F was a huge. Yeah, no, I've, I've seen, you know, from the, uh, a lot of people that are in the aircraft rescue firefighting field, they, a lot of 'em came from the military. So a lot of them.

You know, they've done a lot of training in where they kept their hands and their skin and things in the foam. So they're kind of, there are some concerns from them there. Um, but I think as far as like the industry, the hangers, I've been seeing a lot of people just starting to get ready. Right. Well, what do we have to do?

What have to do to changes. Let's put those plans in the place now and start getting our, our budgets ready for this change. We're gonna have to. Yeah, that makes sense. Seeing a lot of that. Yeah. Yeah. Preparing for the replacements. I've I've seen some of that too. Uh, now, so we have these systems. So what is the, how do we get these scope of works in our budgets to move away from low expansion foam systems or to retrofit for a different foam?

Um, there was a real, I read a decent article. I can't remember the name of the MADD magazine, but I think it was by so. Or a national foam and they were detailing the steps of what you need to do to analyze a, uh, suppression system and, um, try to retrofit it. But it's, it's pretty involved. It's not as simple as just swapping out the foam because each one of those, uh, foam devices are listed for a certain, uh, viscosity and type of, of foam solutions.

So. Yeah, depending on what your current system is, it could, you know, the, the design is gonna be different, you know, per FM, global data sheets, even. And so you may based on. What you have now, you might have to completely replace your pipe again and everything to, to, to make that change, you know, so basically could be to the point we're installing a whole new system almost.

Yeah. Yeah. And that's, uh, pretty, usually pretty cost prohibitive. Um, yeah, for somebody who's doing it, um, uh, without being just forced to, by. Municipal code or federal law changes so well, and that's where that, luckily that's where that new edition of NFP for. And I can come into play, can start doing those risk based assessments and say, well, here's what, here's another alternative that we can use or, um, something else that we can do, or based on what we're doing this hanger, we actually don't even need this phone system anymore.

So hopefully that can, uh, people can use that when they're making these changes. Yeah. And I can guarantee you if in, uh, you know, whatever it is, 2, 3, 5 years from now, Um, we find a system that is, uh, more economic and provides, um, a safe solution that we're gonna be seeing that, uh, everywhere. Um, it's just a fact, it's just, yeah, for sure.

It's just, what's gonna happen. So, um, it's interesting for me, uh, to, to be like, well, things are changing better, figure it out, but. Yeah, I wanted to talk a little bit about, um, you're a pretty prolific writer. I mean, you've written a ton of books and a bunch of articles on fire and life safety, but yeah, I didn't know if you wanted to, uh, tell me a little about like a, a recent article that you've written or one that you have coming up that you're excited about, but always enjoy, um, catching your well, I liked the, the couple of the.

The R kind of like newsletters you'd done and some of your more blog type articles, but I always enjoy reading your, your writing, but yeah, I'd love to hear more about, what's been keeping you busy on that. Yeah, man. No, I'm I, um, since I'm doing auto on my own, I actually have a lot more time to do those things.

So I wanna be, um, starting up that a regular newsletter again, kind of like the, the one you mentioned before with RF and hanger type stuff, regular updates to that. But, um, definitely we starting to do that. Um, an article that I, that came out, it's got, um, uh, Become pretty popular is on. I wrote an article for EV, EVT

Um, it's all, it's a whole website dedicated to electric, vertical takeoff and Lyft aircraft, but it's all about, um, how to use current fire codes, um, to create a plan for fire protection for these new types of aircraft. Um, so we kind of put a plan. I kind of write about a plan forward in there for these aircraft.

They don't have there's no fire protection. That's that's. Directly related to how to protect electric vertical take off and left aircraft. And so, um, one of the things I do is I sit on a task group for NFP 14. It's a ver port task group. And so that's kind of what we're discussing and that's kind of our charge is to come up with the fire protection plan for these new types of emerging technologies and, and aircraft.

So I wrote an article about that, that talks about using what we already have. You know, we have codes like an FPA two and an FPA. Um, 8 55 that talk about energy storage systems and hyd and the hydrogen code. So it's, how do we apply those to these aircraft and to the infrastructure that's gonna, that these aircraft are gonna require.

Um, and then also looking at, uh, how to plan for the fire protection of these, you know, so we have things like an FPA four 40, which is the guide for aircraft rescue firefighting, about what we did on, on that committee. As we were able to put some stuff in the annex information that talks. Planning for those emergency at those sites and with those Aircrafts.

So that article talked all about that and that was on EV So that was a, that was exciting for me to write. I enjoyed writing that. And then, um, probably one of the bigger things coming up is I have another book coming out in a couple weeks. It's called being chief leadership principles for the, a professionals.

So, um, and the fire service has lots of books on leadership and on being a fire chief. And they, they mainly pertain to municipal fire departments. And so there's never been one. Uh, directly for aircraft rescue and firefighting professionals. So, um, this book, uh, I interviewed over 40 different RF chiefs and leaders in the industry, and I kind of took, took their information and compiled it into this book.

So, um, we can actually, um, gain their gain from their wisdom and experience. So I'm excited about that coming out. That'll be out this week and it's, um, I think can pre-order it right now on Amazon already, too, so, oh, nice. Well, I'm definitely gonna drop some links, drop, drop some links to that article and drop some links to that book coming out.

That's some good stuff, man. I'm excited to hear that you got to interview all those people. I bet that was, uh, really neat experience to, to gain some wisdom from people. Yeah. I mean, um, you know, like the big, uh, I was reading a lot about the big consulting. Industries like, um, McKenzie and those kind of companies.

And they're really big on what they call knowledge management. Right? It's taken all the knowledge of the, the people that you work with and all their years. Right? All the people that came before you it's taken their knowledge and, and capturing it. Right. Whether that's in. Written documents or videos or whatever, it might be capture that knowledge that other people can use it and access it.

And that's one of the things that, you know, we, we have pro probably haven't been great at, in the fire services. You know, you have those, these guys that have worked in this field for 40 years or, or longer. Um, and when they leave, they kind of take a lot of that knowledge with him. So. This is a really cool opportunity to, to talk to some of those guys that have, you know, they've already, some of 'em have already been retired from the field and, um, other ones are, are on their way to doing that.

And then I also had the chance to interview some younger people that are just kind of stepping into those chief roles, but this is an awesome tool to, to be able to capture some of that knowledge before it, it leaves and has gone forever. That's so great, man. I love that sentiment. Uh, I, you know, I'm a, a fan of, um, kind of coding and, and the tech industry and that with how they've, uh, Categorized it as documentation or, you know, something that I've been pushing for in my role is how do we, how do we make decisions?

How do we, you know, establish how much of a job is done? You know, um, kind of documenting the steps and the knowledge base like you were talking about. So I really love that. I think that's so important. Um, there's, there's so much that. These, uh, I was talking about just this week, like how much the subconscious brain knows when you spent 30 years in the industry doing something, you know, there's things that people know and have, um, innate within them that are, you know, just.

Just baked in and, and are so strong. So when you talk to somebody who's a professional for 20 plus years in the industry, they have a lot to give. And so I, I really like that sentiment of trying to, to capture that, um, that knowledge base. Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. No, I think it's important, important to do that.

So like you said, the knowledge is here and then it's, it's gone. Right. And traditionally in the fire service, especially, that's kind of how. The younger people learned. Right. We would go send them, go talk to the old, guy's been doing this for 10, 15, 20 years. And then that's how they would learn. Um, and so when those guys are gone and out, then what do we do?

Right. So now it's nice to have those, that institutional knowledge that we can kind of keep and refer back to and use. Yeah, that's great. That's great. Another, um, interesting issue you touched on was, uh, uh, this, um, Energy storage systems and hydrogen it's a topic that I've been hearing a lot lately about is how to, um, tackle the hazard of, uh, batteries, lithium ion batteries in specific, but.

Yeah, I don't know. Um, it's interesting hearing you talking about being a part of that EV toll task group and just kind of how they've started to address the hazards associated with hydrogen and these, um, battery associated, um, fire protection, specific hazards. But I'd love to hear more about that. If you have any other thoughts.

Yeah. I mean, well, from the EV toll and the urban air mobility side, the, the challenge that we have is, um, understanding and identifying what the risks are even gonna be. Right. Cause we don't really have any of these that are fully operational and functional. And we, we don't have a lot to point to, to say, oh, this is gonna be a big hazard.

So kind of our conversations are about that and kind of looking at the, the lithium eye on, or the energy storage system industry and saying, well, what are they doing now? To protect to protect these and to protect, um, fires and structure fires and to protect fires from these battery systems spreading.

So, um, and really, if you look a lot of them, don't have a great solution. You know, it's these, these fires. If you see the fires they burn for a long time and you know, all they're saying to do pretty much as you protect your exposures and, you know, try to cool 'em as much as possible. So what is that right?

We want to get better than that and find out what we can do. Do that quicker and, and better, and, and against that risk. So we have a lot of, we have a lot of good knowledge on the task group. Um, people from the, the, the aviation side, um, the EV toll side, people from the suppression system side, um, So it's kind of cool to just sit and think about, you know, what can we do?

How can we do it? Um, how can we control this hazard? So, you know, I think, um, we talked about some of the things already, like those Nove systems and the water miss systems, and, you know, maybe we'll see those as viable options. Um, sometime in, sometime in the near future. Yeah, that's all great stuff. Yeah. I think that there, I mean, like, you know, other than just some of the same common sense stuff I've seen before, you know, water based systems, um, I haven't seen really anything groundbreaking as far as like active protection for these, for these systems.

And so I, you know, I've been seeing these intense fires that break. As a component of these lithium ion batteries. And, um, I've heard of some. New detection systems for, um, kind of detecting the precursor to, um, the lithium eye on fires. Um, I think that one's, uh, I forget the company, but it's a proprietary one, but they kind of detect the, um, electrolytic vapors that are off gas before these things go to, uh, thermal runaway.

Oh, yeah, that, that's interesting. That'd be interesting to see. You have to send me something about that, man. I need to, I need to get you the presentation, cuz it was, uh, really interesting to hear about it's uh, was a central, it was a sensor and basically it detected the presence of the electrolytic off gas.

That is a precursor to thermal runway. Right. And it's, uh, so like the, the cycle of, um, basically fire for lithium ion battery is, um, mechanical, thermal or electrical damage. Leads to, um, an, an off gas and then the, which the off gas is not like a product of combustion. It's just, um, kind of a release of the, the, the inside of the, the battery.

And then as the separator, which is like the, the middle part of the battery that divides the, the positive and the negative juices, um, starts to degrade. That's when the fire happens and it, and it can happen fast. But, um, yeah, there, I had a S F P E uh, talk about, uh, just the fire science behind it and has pretty interesting, but been doing a lot of.

Work with industrial clients who are looking at, you know, battery storage rooms or battery management systems. So it's something that's not going away. It's, it's, uh, only gonna be more common. So, um, I have to find that, but, um, yeah, I guess, uh, just to round it out, you've already given some, some great tips and tricks for people in the fire service.

Um, but, uh, yeah. Do you have any thoughts for. Things you see as trends or any advice you would like to give anybody listening to this pod? Uh, I think you've been good about, you know, telling people to be, uh, a pro you've been a proponent of professional certifications and being involved in professional societies.

Yeah, for sure. Definitely. I, I definitely believe in that and being part of those organizations and taking, um, classes. I mean the one good one good thing from the pandemic is that a lot of people are able to move all their education to online. So you actually have the opportunity to learn a lot more stuff.

And it's cool. Cause maybe a class that you wouldn't have been able to travel to, you can actually you'd say, oh man, but I do have time to sit and take it online at my home. Right. So that's a great. Thing that came out of that. And it's a good opportunity to have and to continue to increase your knowledge and, and things you wanna learn about and wanna know about.

And I think that's important too, is, you know, sometimes we get fixed that mindset of, I I'm gonna gonna take class that gave a cert a certification and we shouldn't do that. You know, we should do things that we we're concerned about and we wanna learn about something, right. Whether it gives you a great.

A big certificate, that's suitable for framing or not. Right. We, we should take these classes cuz it's something we're we want to know about. We wanna learn about. And I always find it interesting to take classes and things online and, and go to conferences that are outside of my field too. Cause there's something you can gain from learning how another field does it.

My, uh, my wife owns a hair salon and so I went to a, a big management hair salon management seminar with her a few years ago. And. All the stuff that they do, there's stuff that I can actually implement and use. So it's always interesting to go outside of your own field and, and, and learn from others and see what they're doing and how, how, what they're doing can apply to, to your field.

So, yeah, that's a great piece of advice. It's easy to just hang out with, uh, people who are like-minded, but a lot of times, um, the hobby that is totally unrelated to what you're doing or the, the social gathering. You know, a professional society or a group that is sharing knowledge, but is not in the same sphere of, um, uh, work, as you are, can have a lot of great takeaways and you can see a perspective that's different.

So I think that's a great, that's a great, uh, piece of advice, Aaron. Um, yeah. Yeah, no, I mean, I think we covered a lot of stuff. I'll, I'll send you the link to that article. Um, the books coming out, um, you know, I always like to push codes and standards, like I said. So if you go to my website, Aaron, there's a free guide that people can download.

It's called affecting change through codes and standards that kind of outlines the process of how to get involved and how, how the code and standards work. So, and that's free. So, um, definitely wanna make sure that, to give that to your listeners. Yeah, definitely. We'll put some links down in the, the show notes and people can go follow Aaron, Aaron frequently, uh, uh, shares, great stuff on LinkedIn and, uh, on Twitter.

And so you can catch him on either those places or just, just see his updates on his blog. So it's all good stuff, Aaron, I just wanna say thanks so much for coming on the pod and, and sharing your knowledge. It's, it's always a. Awesome. I know. I appreciate the opportunity and keep up the good. Will do, will do.

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. Fire protection and or life safety. Thanks again. And we'll see you next time.