May 9, 2022
This episode is an interview of Richard Alpert a fire protection engineering with a career in the fire service. Mr. Alpert is a Senior Fire Protection Engineer with GHD, a global engineering consulting firm in their Richmond, VA office. He has over 37 years of experience in the design, construction management, and commissioning of public, private, and commercial projects including projects for high rise residential and office buildings, sports arenas, historical and cultural buildings, and government facilities.
In addition to his engineering career Mr. Alpert has been involved with the volunteer fire service for over 45 years and has served in many leadership positions within local fire departments including those of Vice President and Chief.
He holds several national certifications including ICC Building Plans Reviewer and Pro Board Fire Officer II.
Hello, all welcome to the show. I'm Gus Gagliardi, and this is fire code tech on fire code tech. We interview fire protection professionals from all different careers and backgrounds in order to provide insight and a resource for those in the field. My goal is to help you become a more informed fire protection.
Professional fire code tech has interviews with engineers and researchers, fire marshals, and insurance professionals, and highlights topics like codes and standards, engineering systems, professional development, and trending topics in the industry. So if you're someone who wants to know more about fire protection or the fascinating stories of those who are in the field, you're in the right place.
Hello wall. Welcome to episode 52 of fire code tech. On this episode, we have Richard. Mr. Alpert is a senior PR fire protection engineer with G D a global engineering consulting firm in their Richmond, Virginia office. He has over 37 years in design experience, construction management and commissioning of public private and commercial projects that include for Highrise residential and office buildings, sports, arenas, historical and cultural buildings.
In addition to his engineering career, Mr. Alpert has been involved with the volunteer fire service over 45 years. And has served in many leadership positions within local fire departments, including the vice president and chief. He holds several national certifications, including ICC building plans, reviewer and pro board fire officer number two, really enjoyed this episode, Rick and I talk about professional development, how to mentor remotely and how he has dealt with the pandemic as so far.
Technology and, you know, learning to adapt in the modern construction environment. Do me a big favor and hit that subscribe button. So, you know, every time when the podcast comes out on Mondays, And follow us on social media. So you can see the graphics and the information that I put out about fine life safety.
Also, if you find some value in the content, I would just ask you please, to go rate and review on apple podcasts. It helps other people be able to see the show and it helps me be able to continue producing this show. Let's get into the episode. Welcome to the podcasts, Rick, thank you so much for coming on and you know, just excited to talk with.
Yeah, thank you for having me this morning. Typically I'd like to get started with, um, letting everybody know a little bit about your background, sir. Would you, would you mind telling the listeners, you know, kind of how you got started in fire and life safety? Guess started? Uh, my career basically, would've been, I guess my 16th birthday.
I got my application to the Tom Enson volunteer fire department up in Tom Enson PA uh, grew up in rural Pennsylvania. My father joined the fire department, I think in 64 when we moved to Pennsylvania was always around the station being in rural Pennsylvania. You know, that was the social life at that area was the firehouse.
So I joined as soon as I could, like I said, I got my, uh, application for my 16th birthday, uh, joined, uh, liked to volunteer fire service thought I would go into a professional career. So ended up going to a two year college down in, uh, Salisbury, North Carolina with the intent of becoming a professional firefighter.
Uh, graduated from that school, did some interview, uh, with some fire departments also. Oh, with some industries such as Tennessee valley authority. And they were discussing that I would be the fire tech and I would report to the fire protection engineer. Uh, and that intrigued me. And I asked one interviewer, you know, who's the fire protection engineer.
And he said, well, if he's the engineer, he'll be in charge. And I said, well, if I wanna be in charge, how do I do that? And he says, well, you've gotta get your engineering degree. I'd never heard of an engineering or degree in fire protection engineering. Uh, he mentioned, uh, at that time, Noise Institute technology and, uh, university of Maryland.
Uh, so I looked into that, ended up, uh, enrolling in university of Maryland. Uh, went there for four years and then that launched my career into fire protection engineering. Oh, very nice. I have some family in Western PA. And so I'm familiar with the area a little bit used to go up there all the time, but.
That's cool. It cool to hear about your origin story and finding it through your family and yeah. Getting interested. That's a, seems like a, a fairly common career path having family in the fire service, but that's awesome. Good to hear that. Yeah. Yeah. My entire family was, my father was involved. My mother was in the ladies, auxiliary.
My sister was in the lady, a auxiliary, so it was definitely a family affair. Wow. That's awesome. I bet you had lots of, uh, lessons learned from your family being involved so heavily that probably, uh, helped you get integrated faster for sure. Yep. Yeah. So I basically never had a choice. in the fire service indoctrinated pretty early into the fire service.
I liked that. Yeah. Well, my father always had me hanging around the station and you know, back then it was rural. So everything back then, it was either no call or it was a, a working barn fire. So it was, you know, the whole neighborhood would go out there, support the firefighters. The women would bring refreshments and everything.
And my. But, uh, she wouldn't have to drag me out there. I'd be in the car before she would get out there and watch dad fight the fire. So, wow. That's a good experience. That sounds like, uh, good memories. Mm. But, um, so you went and got your, um, engineering degree at, um, Maryland and then yes. So after you got your engineering degree, kind of, what was your path forward still working with in the fire services, understand that you have been continually, um, uh, working in the fire service mm-hmm um, is that correct?
Yes, as I've, I've moved around and taken different jobs. I've tried to stay in the volunteer fire service, uh, which is tough. When I first got outta Maryland, I entered in and got some job supporting the nuclear industry, uh, which basically their, their term contracts. You work here for six months. If you're doing a good job, you get to stay for a year or two or three.
And then. Then that job's usually done your, your company gets another contract at another nuclear power site and they move you to another site. So during those years it was tough to stay, stay fully involved with the volunteer fire department. But I tried to, if I was in an area for a couple years to at least join and support the local volunteer fire departments, if I could, or if a lot of the power plants too had, uh, fire brigades.
So if I was up there, I was trying to help with at least with training. Something with the fire brigades at the nuclear power plants, if five could. But then once, once I got out of that industry and settled down, once I got a family, I joined the local fire departments whenever I could, where I lived. Oh, very nice.
Yes. So what was your experience like? Um, working in and around like nuclear facilities. Was it more like helping with ITM and that sort of thing or more focus on like plan, review and documentation? Uh, what kind of different roles and, um, did, were you involved in during that time in your life? Most, mostly in nuclear power plants was, it was compliance.
Type job functions. Uh, NRC had their guidelines and requirements. A lot of that came out of the Browns ferry fire, uh, as far as fire protection, fire stopping fire barriers, programs, and that sort of stuff for the nuclear industry. Um, Basically, we would move from plant to plant to support their programs in ensure compliance with the, uh, NRC regulations, whether it was a fire barrier program, fire stopping program, fire protection programs, uh, systems, operations training, just to support the NRC requirements.
Very cool. Very cool. That seems like a, a very interesting career path. Nuclear. Um, I have a good friend from school. I graduated from the Oklahoma state, uh, fire protection technology program. So, um, it was a common career path for a lot of folks to mm-hmm. go into nuclear. But it seems like a very interesting, um, career.
Yeah. One of, one of my locations, I ended up in, uh, Fort worth, Texas supporting the power plant out there and. I got picked on out there. Cause I was the only Maryland grad. Everyone else was from Oklahoma, so, oh no, they enjoyed picking on me out there. Oh yeah. They're probably just jealous. Mm, no, I'm just, uh, it's a really cool program outta Maryland.
I was always, you know, tell people that there's. Different specialties and different, you know, um, good things to get from each program. You know, I think that the, the engineering side of things and the more fire phenomena focused, uh, it, well from the outside looking in, um, Maryland program seems like, uh, You know, a good pair with the more, um, technician focused, uh, okay.
State program, so, right. Uh, I wouldn't be opposed to, to going to both colleges but, uh, no, that's cool. So, um, and actually met my wife in the nuclear industry too, so that worked out. Okay. Well, that's a good deal. It sounds like that sounds like a win. Yeah. Met, met her at one of my locations. Oh, nice. So after you, uh, you know, worked in nuclear for a while, um, I understand that you've had a couple of, you know, um, positions as a, uh, engineer for architecture and engineer in, uh, construction industry.
Like what did. How did you make your way into that sort of role or what interested you in that sort of role? Well, there were, I guess, two reasons, uh, for looking to get the nuclear industry. One was. I met my wife, who that time was fiance and the intent to settle down. Cause like I mentioned before, the nuclear industry, you're, you're bouncing around every year, every two, every three years from site to site, it's never a permanent position, uh, wanted to be able to settle down.
And at that time too, the, the nuclear industry was starting to go through a change. Some of the plants were shutting down. A lot of them were reorganizing. Some of the power companies were buying up a lot of the nuclear power plants. Uh, so there were less seemed to me that there was gonna be less and less opportunities in the nuclear industry moving forward.
And it just seemed like a good time to get out and make the jump. And, uh, had a friend of mine that I had known was working for an AE firm in, in Philadelphia. At that time I was based outta Philadelphia and. Talked to him and looked into making the jump and then made the jump from, from the nuclear industry, into the AE industry and joined his firm in Philadelphia.
Very nice. Very nice. Yeah. That's unfortunate about nuclear. Um, that's a sad deal. I wish that wasn't the case. I think that globally, that is a, seems to be a trend though. Um, people want to the public perception of nuclear ramping down to some extent. Um, but, uh, so you were working for a firm out in Philadelphia mm-hmm and was this just a engineering firm or an architect and engineering firm.
And, and what kind of work were you involved in, in this first position in Philadelphia? It, it wasn't, it wasn't AE firm. They did full, uh, architectural engineering support in house. Uh, worked joined, joined that group, uh, ended up before I left. I guess being in charge of the, uh, fire protection group there, um, it was nice in that firm.
Uh, they did a lot of, uh, sports and entertainment complexes, which I enjoyed. So they did, uh, we did work on the Phillies ballpark in Philadelphia, uh, supported the ballpark down in their training facility in Florida, did a lot of, uh, Ray. Which was interesting work, uh, working with the race tracks and the casinos, uh, doing that type of work, uh, highlight facilities, uh, stadium work.
So that was definitely enjoyable and some large and, uh, complicated projects working for that, uh, group. Yeah, that's awesome. That's really interesting and different work to be working for sports complexes and, and big arena type facilities. That's a unique hazard without a. It Def definitely learned there how to, uh, work with all the work with the architects and, uh, all the consultants and all the different disciplines.
Uh, cause when you get into large projects like that, it's, it's definitely something you need to work with everybody together. Oh, for sure. Yeah. And I mean, uh, it's interesting. It seems like, uh, you know, just from like briefly looking at, um, your career on LinkedIn, like that you've always kinda worked for some pretty, uh, larger firms or like had to good.
You probably all, you know, uh, to start with those large kind of ballpark projects. Um, that's, that's a pretty significant way to get started. Um, it's not like you started with a whole bunch of small stuff, so that's interesting. Well, it's serious. Cause I've worked, worked for large firms, worked for small firms, uh, jumped back and forth.
Probably you can see if you have my resumes, people ask for my, uh, work history and it's like a. Page and a half long on the companies I've worked for. So, oh, nice. Well, it's good to have that perspective on, you know, because it's quite a difference, um, in the industry between, you know, whether you work for a full service AE firm or just a engineering firm or, you know, a small company, a medium company, or a, a huge company.
So yeah, I wanted. Speak with you about just like your perspective from, it seems like a couple of your roles have been for some really large company and I I've never had the opportunity or, uh, uh, to work for like a big corporation. So I, you know, I can, I've worked with people who have, but what's your thoughts on just like working on these large scale projects and, you know, um, just some of that perspective with large companies and large projects.
Uh, As far as the large companies. Cause I work for large companies work for small companies, I guess. Cause, cause basically with, with companies, you know, we're the large company, the, the human resources, the tech support, all that's gonna come from from like the larger company. And I guess that's. Between a small company and a large company, they're basically the same.
It's all how you get that information and that support. Uh, the big difference is from what I found out, doesn't matter whether you work for a small company or a large company, it's a two year immediate group you're working for. And that makes the difference. You know, your supervisors, uh, senior engineers, junior engineers, you're working with, uh, cause whether it's a small company or large company, that that's what makes the difference.
The people you're directly interacting with and the, the support you're getting directly from your, your supervisor and your peers, cuz you can work for a large company, uh, get the support, you know, from corporate, but not get the local support and you can work for, uh, you know, a small company and not get the local support.
So, so that's the difference is, is the, the people immediately around you and, and how they're gonna support you and, and the interactions with that group. Yeah, that's a great piece of advice. I, uh, you know, thinking about that early on in the careers, as I had professors who had told me, you know, thinking about thinking about who you're working with, think about your manager and your direct support.
So that makes a lot of sense. Mm-hmm um, whether it's local or international, uh who's how's your team and what's the support structure around you. That's interesting to hear. I like that answer. Yeah. It's definitely a, I guess an offshoot is, is COVID has changed a lot of that too with, uh, not going into the is a lot, I guess what, it's been three years now and I haven't really been back to the office, uh, since matter of fact, the position I'm in now, I'm basically permanently remote.
I don't report to an office. Okay. So especially now, You know, being able to, to, uh, access stuff from corporate, you know, as far as benefits, pay stubs, expenses, that sort of stuff. And then, uh, support with within your little local group, being able to get on teams and support people have meetings. You know, you, you don't have that day to day contact.
So. Even more so than ever now the, the work within your immediate group is even more important trying to making sure you've got that connection. Yeah. Yeah. That's, uh, it, I'd be interested to hear more your thoughts on, um, the pandemic and just how that's changed the way you work at. Spoke with a variety of professionals from, you know, really early on in their career and to more 10 year professionals, you know, trying to coach people for, you know, uh, young students outta college.
Like mm-hmm, how they can find mentors and, and figure out all these tools and how to do their job in pandemic times has been, uh, Uh, a struggle for some people, but yeah. What are your thoughts on, um, remote work and just the, the new landscape of, um, delivering projects in, uh, this digital age. Yeah, well, for me, it's been interesting cuz I got outta Maryland in 84 and people listen to this podcast.
They're gonna laugh. Cuz back when I was in Maryland, we still had punch cards and punch machines. You know, you you'd stand in line for 45 minutes to, to get on the punch card machine and make your punch cards. So you could hand 'em to someone behind the counter and, and run your programs. And then they give you a big printout on whether your program worked or not.
So we had no computers, no laptops or any of that. I got out. I started working drawings were still hand drawn. We didn't have cat operators. We had guys with pens and pencils and drafting boards. You know, we had the old, the blueprint machines with the amonia had always smelled in the back of the rooms.
So I, I came from that generation, you know, and then slowly got into computers, cat, uh I've. I guess since early on, uh, since I, when I joined the AEs, uh, firms, I was already a senior engineer, so I never had CAD load loaded on my programs. I've never done electronic drawings. I've always had a, a drafting tech or CAD support.
I've I've never done it myself. My experience was drawings, like I said, was hand drawings. Uh, the drafters would do 'em. We'd send 'em through the blueprint machine. I'd mark 'em up in red. even a couple years ago, you know, I had my, my drafting tech, I he'd set up the draws. He'd print 'em out. I'd mark. 'em up with red pencil.
Give back to him and he'd draft them up. Um, now with the remote, you know, everything's over blue beam or some other platform like that. Uh, the junior engineer, the, the CAD tackle send me something electronically now and I'll get on to Bluebeam and I'll mark it up and electronically. And, and that's been a process.
For me. And I'm sure people in my generation I've, I've had to learn quickly how to do everything on the, uh, on the desktop and a laptop. And, uh, people laugh at me, uh, when I was, uh, A little link back to the fire service. Uh, before I moved down here to Virginia, I was the, the fire chief up in Pennsylvania for the department up there.
And, uh, since I was fire chief, the, uh, local township, I wasn't allowed to have, uh, any of the social media platforms cuz they, they didn't want people sending stuff to me and they didn't want me reacting and, and getting stuff out there on the platforms that they didn't support. So I wasn't allowed to get on Facebook, so I never did.
And. Always had a phone supplied by the fire department. Uh, so up till this Christmas, when I guess, uh, our telephone company called and said that they would no longer support my flip phone, uh, my wife actually finally bought me a smart phone for Christmas. Uh, finally migrated over to that. So. I've always been a little bit behind on the technology, but people laugh now.
They see my smartphone. They're like, oh, you finally got rid of the flip phone. Huh? So what mean? Yeah. So it's, well, you've probably got better mental health for it, so it wouldn't worry too much about it. Yeah. My, my, my son's been helping me learn how to use that thing. So, uh, but that's been, that's been, the biggest thing is the, uh, learning how to use the technology that.
Never had to, or never been forced to use before. Uh, and in learning how to, you know, interact with the junior engineers. And, you know, instead of sitting down with 'em and saying, you know, sitting down, you know, with a set of plans saying, you know, here's how we mark up the plans. You know, here's how we, we draw in, this is what this building requires and sitting there and actually doing it by hand, you know, now it's over teams, meetings and marking up, uh, in Bluebeam and stuff like that and presenting this stuff to 'em.
Yeah. That's been the biggest change and the biggest challenge. Wow. Yeah, that's definitely some, uh, some different takes on, you know, there are a couple different revelations in there from, from drawings to, to CAD and from CAD and now it's, everything's doing 3d, so mm-hmm I mean, so it's just like multiple, uh, evolutions and then yeah.
Finding. Uh, relationships with people when you don't get the face to face and you don't get, uh, nearly the richness of communication with, you know, looking somebody in the eyes to see if they're really getting what you're saying to 'em as you're marking up and drawing. I mean, uh, that's, uh, it's definitely, um, harder over, over the computer.
Not that it can't be done. I think a lot of people are doing really great things, um, with remote work and, but yeah, definitely proven some new challenges. The biggest thing I've, I've given some lectures and lessons and stuff, uh, over teams meeting is it's much more difficult when you're not seeing the, the faces of the people and their reactions and, and trying to invoke questions from them to see if they're understanding.
The presentation you're giving. Yeah. It's tough when you just see a little circle with initials and you don't see the faces and the, the interactions. Yeah. The silence is deafening when you're given a presentation or something. And then it's just like all dim circles and, uh, yeah. You're like, man, this really feels like.
And, you know, any absence of head nodding or, you know, any social cues that you would get, if you were in the room with somebody would let you know if people were just like asleep or clicking through their phone or something. But yeah, that's definitely different. Um, yeah, learn learned if I'm, if I'm, uh, going over something or doing a, uh, a lessons or something like that, you you've gotta intersperse it with questions to keep everybody involved.
It's a good tip. It's a good tip. So you mentioned, so the fire service has been a through line in your career, but mm-hmm, always like to ask professionals when they get 'em on that have, um, the great opportunity to have insight to, um, actual firefighting and then pair that with the technical knowledge of engineering, like, just be interested to hear how that has affected your career.
What kind of insights had you gained by having that time in the fire service? Uh, well, I guess I, I can answer that by. I guess the biggest example of we had a, uh, one AE firm. We had, we had a project, uh, in a military base up in, uh, Northern Virginia involved a, uh, new building with a parking garage and the junior engineer that was working on it, uh, you know, was following the, an FPA standards, the DOD, and there was, was an issue with the stamp pipe.
I can't remember whether it was the location. Of the hose outlets or some code issue that was going on between the, uh, the fire marshal at the site and the junior engineers. Nate had a couple submissions and a couple review meetings and the, the issue just, just couldn't get resolved. And at one point, the, the fire marshal told the engineer, he goes, well, you're an engineer.
You, you just don't understand, you know, what we need and, and what's going on out there in the fire service. So, uh, our supervisor asked me to go up for one of the meetings. He goes, you know, you've been in the fire service, you know, the language you can talk to talk. Uh, so I went up to the review meeting, uh, met with the fire.
Marshal, gave the same information that the junior engineer had given, you know, the same proposals. But I went into the meeting. I, I introduced myself, you know, as, as the lead engineer. And I said, you know, I've got you. 30 some odd years, fire service used to be a fire chief. I said, so if, if you've got an issue, I said, you know, I, I understand where you're coming from.
He goes, oh, you're one of us. You speak our language. And he said, well, what do you propose to resolve this? And I gave the same proposal that the junior engineer did. And he goes, he goes, that's great. Let's do that. It was just the fact that, you know, he saw me. You know, as his equal one of his brothers in the fire service that I must understand, you know, what he was, what he needed and what he was looking at.
And it was the, the same proposed solution, but now it was acceptable. Yeah. Because it wasn't coming from the, you know, the engineer that, that didn't know what the fire service needed. Yeah. Well, I mean, I can definitely understand that he is probably coming from a place of, you know, having real notable the points of frustration with things that engineers have done where they absolutely do not understand.
So I'm sure that he was coming from the right place, but, um, that's kind of funny that he had accepted the proposed solution, but yeah, I think. We walked outta the meeting, the junior engineer just threw his arms up in the air. He said, I just don't get it. I said, I said, yeah, it's, it's a fire service thing.
I said, it's, don't get upset. Well, yeah, I mean, uh, it's a, it's a good lesson to, you know, mm-hmm, think about, um, just those perspectives I've been caught up before and just not, um, keeping the functional, um, in mind and fighting for whatever it is. Clearance in. Fire riser room or something. Mm-hmm you just gotta kind of keep that perspective in mind.
So I appreciate that, um, anecdote, but yeah. So you mentioned stand pipe and the way that I was able to find you is, um, and I'll put a link in the show notes for the people who wanna go read it, but. You wrote a great article on stamp pipes. And it was one of the first articles I ever got to read, um, as a young engineer where like the process of the building codes, like kind of clicked for me.
Um, and so, you know, Is it coming outta school, even though you talk about the building code and NFPA documents, um, it just wasn't clear to me, you know, when, how do I know when this stamp pipe system is required and mm-hmm , um, I read your article and for some reason it just it's clicked with me. It was succinct.
You spelled it out very clearly. If you meet these criteria in the building, Then, and this is building code is adopted in your jurisdiction. Then this system is required and it was like a Eureka moment for me. So yeah, I really enjoyed that article from you. And I'd just, uh, like to hear, you know, um, about that article or any other articles that you've written and, and why you chose to write that article.
Yeah, that article, uh, that was in sprinkler age magazine and. When I was the AE firm I was with, uh, at that time, uh, we were members of the, uh, a S P E I think that's the organization. I hope I didn't get it wrong. Uh, that sprinkler age is, is their publication. And, uh, we were active in that group. And, uh, we were also familiar with the, uh, the, uh, Technical advisor at that time.
And, uh, he called us up once and said, Hey, you know, we're, we're looking for an article. Would you, anyone in your group be you interested in writing an article? And he said, you know, we're doing sprinklers and, and, and stamp pipes will be the focus of the issue and, and that month's publications. And so we had a group meeting that supervisor said anyone interested, and I still sure I'll, I'll write something up.
And I, I guess, That got it started. And I just started researching and, uh, went into it and, uh, developed that article. My first thought was, well, if, if I'm gonna go through and talk to it, I guess, you know, the first thing we always look at at a project, you know, as far as systems is what's required, you know, that's, that's the first thing the architect always asks the engineers, you know, do I have to put in a sprinkler system, do I need a stamp pipe system?
So that's why I wanted to start off the article. Not necessarily how it goes in, but why it goes in, you know, what, what's the code requirement, you know, at what point do you look at the code and say, okay, you know, I meet these parameters, so now I need a stand pipe system, you know, okay. I need a stand pipe system.
What type of stand pipe system do I need? You know, what parameters do I need to look out now? And that that's how that article developed. And when I was initially writing it, uh, we. Talking with the publication. They said, you know, give us something, you know, anything from like 12 to 1500 words. And I think that one ended up being almost 2,800 words cuz once I started writing, I just, just kept going.
They were like, oh, that's a little bit longer, but we can work with it. So, and I, since then I've written there's one more article on stamp pipes. We actually took that article and we had had a high rise. Project, uh, here locally in Norfolk, Virginia. And, uh, we did a lessons learned article. So we, we took that article and said, okay, you.
Here's how you figure out if you need a stamp pipe, what type of stamp pipe, you know, where the hose valve goes, uh, that sort of stuff, how you interact with the other systems. So we took like a point by point information from that article and applied it to the, the Highrise project on how we met those requirements and, and how we integrated into our design.
And then also I think a year or two ago wrote a. Article related to stand pipes, but it was on fire department. Connections, uh, actually looked into it and said, you know, looking into this, there's more requirements for fire department connections than, than people think they are. As far as locations, number of inlets, uh, that sort of stuff, uh, who gets to approve the fire department location.
I'm I'm still going. For that on two or three projects right now is who gets to approve that. So that was also another offshoot of that article. And, and that was published I think, a year or so ago. And I'm currently working on one, uh, on, uh, doing a, uh, hydraulic calculation first, a typical stamp pipe system.
I had mentioned that in my original article, got into a, a little bit on that, but not into the specifics on how you actually do one, cuz I've had many projects. where we'll require it in our specifications, you know? So, you know, you need to do a hydraulic cap in accordance with an FPA 14 and the contractor will come back.
And a lot of times he'll say, I don't know how to do that. I've never done one. And so I, I thought an article on that would be, uh, some good information too. So I'm currently working on that one. We have to let me know, and now it comes out cuz uh, that sounds like a good resource. I, I think it is a little bit more of.
A niche topic is, you know, um, people either, you know, with manual, uh, stamp pipes, you know, are not thinking so much about those calculations for, for better, or for probably mostly worse that they're not well versed in the calculations. And, you know, uh, so I think that's great information for anybody who wants to learn about the subject.
There's a lot more resources for. Their calculations, then there are first stand pipes. So I think that's a good topic, but yeah, that's awesome. I really enjoyed the article. And so, um, I'd be definitely interested to hear about any more writing from you, but, oh, I was just gonna ask, since you mentioned, um, uh, your involvement in professional societies, I just wanted to pick your brain more on what kind of.
Professional societies that you've been involved in. And, um, yeah. The what value you see in being involved in those kind of communities? Uh, well, I guess fire protection engineers, the typical top two, uh, S F P N FPA. Uh, then, uh, also I'm in the ICC international code council. Uh, one of the, uh, consulting firms I worked for.
They did a lot of, uh, third party building plans, reviews for, uh, Washington DC. Uh, so they encouraged staff to, uh, get their ICC certification and buildings, plans, examiner. Uh, so I studied a little bit for that. Got that certification, uh, maintained that certification over the years. Uh, so involved as a member of the ICC and, and maintaining that and, you know, doing the continuing education credits for ICC, uh, like I said, N FPA, S F P E you know, keep involved with them, uh, N FPA, mostly, uh, you know, cuz the technical standards that everybody uses, uh, S F P uh, using them mostly for.
CE credits doing their webinars. Um, and then ICC, like I said, using them to maintain my certification. And, uh, they also offer, uh, classes as far as building plans, uh, examiners training and stuff like that to maintain my, uh, my certification with the CE credits for that. Very nice. Very nice. So I like to round out the interviews would just.
Uh, professional development conversation topics, and mm-hmm, , you know, since you've had such a variety of career and, and mentoring and, um, experience in the industry, I just wanted to, um, get your insight on, um, what kind of advice you would have for. Um, young engineers getting into the field and, you know, uh, how would you recommend them to get integrated and kind of, um, yeah, just, uh, or any broad piece of advice for, um, people getting into the industry?
Uh, one thing I would recommend, I didn't do it when I was at Maryland, cuz I was just trying to get out so, uh, I would do internships, uh, when I was at Maryland, like I said, I had gone to another college for two years. I ended up at Maryland for four years. So my, my father was pushing me. He's like, you know, this is a six year college now time to get out.
So I didn't wanna take a semester off, uh, to do the internship. Uh, but I recommended doing an internship, uh, that way you get a good idea of, you know, the type of work that's out there. Uh, know we've got a lot of my current company now we've got interns and a lot of 'em just end up coming right on board.
Uh, but I would recommend do that. Get out there and. Try working for a semester and see what's out there. See what different jobs are there. I've, you know, I've worked at nuclear industry, I've worked for the AE firms. I've worked for all the major consulting firms and they're all a little bit different the way they operate and, uh, how they work.
So I would get out there and try one. Yeah. That's a great piece of advice. I think there's no better way to figure out if you like work in this certain industry or certain. Um, job function and getting out there and doing it, especially, um, getting paid and getting a great reliant on your resume. So, yeah, it's a great piece of advice.
Yeah. And then if, if you know, any graduates, talk to them, see what, you know, specific fields they're in, you know, the, the things that are good, the things that are bad about. You know what they're doing. I mean, there's, there's advantages to working for AE firms. There's advantages to working for the consulting firms, you know, and, and how your jobs are viewed.
You know, when you work for the AE firm, you're, you're part of the big team. You're one of the engineers, you know, you work for the consulting firms, the AE firms hire them and you're sometimes. A little bit more of the expert. So they don't necessarily question what you're doing as much as when you work within the AE firm.
So it's, it's definitely different perspectives of, of how you operate within the teams and, and how you're view depending, uh, which organization you're working for. Yeah. That makes sense. Yeah. I just recently made a, a career switch to working for an engineering firm instead of a full service firm. And yeah, see a bit of that change.
I hadn't thought about it. Like. Of your role and what that means to the team? Um, as far as just like, uh, yeah. How much scrutiny from your team? I mean, not that they'll never be any, but it, that definitely changes mm-hmm and then there's also, you know, working for the AJS, you know, I've, I've got friends that work.
You know, fire departments as fire marshals, as fire protection engineers. So there's also that side of it. Very true. Very true. Yeah, that, that was actually my dream job once. But, uh, the timing in the location didn't work out. It was a offer from a, uh, fire department out west, uh, as a fire protection engineer, uh, with the fire department.
And you actually remember the fire department and you actually drew on-call duty like once or twice a week and you would get a. Car, you know, red lights and sirens and everything to respond to major incidents and, you know, you're expected to respond and then offer, you know, technical advice to the suppression officers on the scene, you know, and I thought at that time was my dream job with my family and time and in location, it just didn't work out.
But that, that would've combined my, my two loves of firefighting and fire protection engineering. Yeah. That's uh, that's interesting. That's. And I haven't heard about a position like that. That sounds fascinating. Um, but yeah. So what kind of, uh, you, you mentioned some great professional societies, but I, I wanted to, uh, to end with, um, what kind of resources you would recommend to, um, professionals, um, Like, uh, generally when I ask this question, I'm thinking about, you know, like, um, professional societies, technical blogs, or trade magazines, or just anything that you would recommend, like, um, I know that, uh, like some of the material used to study for the, the PE exam is pretty solid, but mm-hmm um, yeah.
Just, what do you think is, um, a good resource? Where do you get your information or keep up to date on the industry, that sort of thing? Uh, mostly now, especially being remote, uh, with the SFPs, it's the webinars that they offer. Mm-hmm matter of fact, I think I have another one at noon on, uh, like. Elevators and, uh, personnel evacuation elevators, uh, had one last week.
Uh, then an engineer I used to work with. One of my E firms is, is now with the fire department, uh, as the fire protection engineer, like I mentioned before, and he had one on, uh, protection, cannabis, growth facilities. Mm-hmm so, so definitely that's that's the one way I keep up right now is the S F P E uh, the N F P a I.
With the projects and, and jobs I've worked on, I've never been able to attend large number of NSPA conventions. Uh, I guess that's my one regret is I wasn't active in, in keeping up with the conventions and the interactions there, but, and the personal connections, cuz that's where I get a lot of my information too, with, with people I've worked with over the years is, you know, I'll get in this situation.
I know they've, they've worked on that type thing and I'll just give them a call and say, Hey, what'd you do here? Uh, so I'd recommend if you could, if your company supports it to, to attend the NFPA conventions, just to keep those, those interactions and those connections going, uh, same with the S F P E uh, unfortunately.
Except for ones that are in conjunction with the NFPA I've, I've never attended a national international, uh, S F P E meeting. Uh, but I would recommend people trying to do that and, and keep up with that. And then, um, I, like I said, the ICC, if, if you're into the life safety and the codes would be, uh, joining ICC, uh, getting the certifications, if it, if it benefits you and your company and, and they do a lot of training, I, I attended one week, uh, seminar a couple years ago to, to get my.
Continuing education, uh, whole week on a building plans reviews again, you know, just to keep up on the information and that, uh, you know, the I B C and all the associated coaches coach change every three years. So just trying to keep me up with that and, uh, To go into those meetings once a year, they, or every three years, they, they put out the significant changes.
So I always try to take that training, uh, you know, significant changes to the IBC, the I C you know, those are typically eight hour classes, uh, getting in on them and, and making sure you're up with, with what's going on with that, cuz different codes are always getting adopted and trying to keep up with whatever jurisdiction you're in.
What version of the, the I B C or the, if C you know what addition they're using, how they've modified it, you know, trying to, trying to keep up with. Yeah, that's great advice. Yeah. Um, keeping in touch with, uh, how the industries is, is changing and the code cycles and, you know, maintaining rapport and connections through, uh, conferences and just, you know, professional involvement.
That's great. Mm-hmm that's great tips. Well, Rick, I just wanted to thank you so much for coming on the show. Really enjoyed speaking with you and yeah. Thanks again. Oh, thank you for having me. Appreciate it.
Awesome. Well, let me see if I can stop this thing. 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 code zone standards.
Interpretation. Be sure to contact a licensed professional. If you are getting involved with fire protection and or life safety. Thanks again. And we'll see you next time.