May 25, 2020
Aaron Johnson is a fire marshal who specializes in aviation and aircraft rescue firefighting (ARFF). On today's episode, we talk about aircraft-rescue firefighting and the significant hazard hangars pose for fire prevention. Aaron shares his insight from roles as an inspector, fire marshal and member of the NFPA 409 committee. We also discuss his extensive writing career as The Code Coach and his content generation for the fire safety industry. Aaron gives his top picks of trends in the industry, which include some innovative new technology. This episode has some great takeaways on a variety of topics!
If you want to find out more about Aaron you can find it at: https://sites.google.com/view/aaronjwriter
How did you get into the fire protection field?
How does aircraft rescue fire fighting differ from the standard fire service?
Are there tactical differences from the approach for approaching a hangar to a normal commercial structure?
Could you tell me about a nuisance discharge of a foam system or a fire investigation?
Can you tell me about your roll on the NFPA 409 committiees?
What does a day in the life as an inspector look like?
Are there any trends that you see in the industry right now?
What is third party reporting?
Do you have a piece of advice for a young professional getting into the field?
Can you tell me about a project that was challenging?
Hello, all welcome to the show. I'm Gus Gagliardi, and this is fire code tech on fire code tech. We interview fire protection professionals from all different careers and backgrounds in order to provide insight and a resource for those in the field. My goal is to help you become a more informed fire protection.
Professional fire code tech has interviews with engineers and researchers, fire marshals, and insurance professionals, and highlights topics like codes and standards, engineering systems, professional development, and trending topics in the industry. So if you're someone who wants to know more about fire protection or the fascinating stories of those who are in the.
You're in the right place. Welcome to episode four of fire code tech. Today we have Aaron Johnson. Aaron is a fire marshal who works in aviation and specializes in aircraft rescue firefighting. Aaron goes into detail about what aircraft rescue firefighting is and how it compares to conventional firefighting.
We get to talk. Fire investigations and high expansion foam, nuisance discharges. We get to go over. Why aviation fire protection has some of the biggest and baddest fire protection systems. Aaron talks about his content creation as the code coach on episode four of fire code tech. We talk about Aaron's involvement with the 4 0 9 committee and why it's important to be active in your career.
Also, we talk about how one would go about getting published in a. For fire protection. We also get to talk about one of Aaron's favorite fire protection projects. Don't forget to follow fire code tech on social media and subscribe. So you never miss an episode. Let's dive in. Welcome to the show. Aaron, how you doing today?
I'm good. Good. Thanks for having me. Cool. Well, um, so just to start out, I wanted to give people a little bit of background on who you are and how you got into fire protection. My name's Aaron, like you said, I, I currently, um, I provide, um, I'm the fire marshal for an aircraft manufacturing company. And I also do some consulting on a freelance basis on the side.
Um, but I kind of got into the business about 13. Almost 14 years ago. Now I started out as an EMT and, uh, the goal of becoming a firefighter and I went to fire school and in fire academy, there were two, two fields that really interested me, even more than the structural firefighting side. I was interested in the RF industry, which is aircraft rescue firefighting.
So, um, I knew that that was a field I was gonna work in. And then I was also really interested in the fire prevention side inspections. Um, public education and investigations and those kind of things. So, um, I took those interests. I got, I got certified as a firefighter and then I started pursuing my actually first job out of the academy actually was at, um, an aircraft rescue department, which is where I am today.
And so, um, I took that job. And then for the next two years, I worked on everything I needed to become certified as a fire inspector in the state of Florida, which is, which is where I'm. . And so I, I took the classes, got became certified by the state. And then I went and worked for a local municipality for about five years.
And then, um, about six years ago now, the, the chief at the first department I worked for, he had called and, um, asked me to come back and run their fire prevention program out there. So, um, that's kind of how I got started and where I am. That's really interesting. Something that I wanted to touch on is it seems like from your activity, in your writing, in your activity and some of your educational materials that you have a lot of passion for that AR FF, um, which is aircraft, what is that again?
It's aircraft rescue firefighting. So we call it RF. Um, it used to be called crash rescue, but people weren't so comfortable with that. So now we call it a . I. Yeah. So how does, uh, aircraft, uh, firefighting, how does that differ from your standard firefighting or your structure? Fire firefighting. All right.
So, uh, for our departments or aircraft rescue fire departments, you know, they're primarily on the site at whether it's an airport or in private industry, they're there for the aircraft, or if there's a, an aircraft crash or an incident, that's what they're primarily there for that they. They do have, um, a lot of 'em respond to medical calls as well to the tur from the terminal and that kind of thing, and respond to the buildings.
Um, but they're primary there for the aircraft. And, um, usually the FAA drives as requirements. So if you want to be a, an indexed airport with passenger service, you have to have some sort of. Aircraft rescue fire, fire protection. So that's what drives that, but the actual responding to an incident or fire, you know, one big difference is that you have a lot of fuel, a different, different you're diff dealing with different type of fuel load, you know, in a home you might have, you know, plastics, paper, products, that kind of thing with an aircraft you're dealing with, um, large amounts of really jet fuel and, and that kind of thing.
So you have a lot of running fuel, 3d fire from the actual fire occurs then also in the structural side of things, which is more where I'm. Focused at and work on, you know, you're dealing with, with hangers and types of, uh, fire suppression systems and fire alarm systems. They don't actually see a lot of times in the normal, the normal community type of fire protection or fire inspection work, you know, in the aircraft hangers, you're dealing with lower high foam suppression systems, high expansion foam, or low expansion foam systems system.
We don't see a lot of, and then you have some complex alarm systems and things like that as well. So that's a lot more for me, that's more fun and more interesting for my daily work, but. Some basic differences. That sounds like you're getting to deal with some high challenge fires there. I mean, you know, compared to class four commodities or, you know, your run of the mill plastics, I think, uh, jet fuel has to rival anything that, uh, normal structure could have to offer as far as fire load.
So that's pretty interesting. Yep. Definitely. Is there differences in how you would approach a structure fire from a hanger to a, you know, your run of the mill office building. Are there, you know, tactical differences in tactical consideration for the structure? It's probably pretty much gonna be the same.
Mm-hmm we pre plan all of our structure so we know what they have and what's going on. And we try to, you know, plan for possible incidents that, that could happen there. We conduct, you know, a pretty thorough risk assessment of. Facility that we're responsible for, which is pretty typical in the, uh, municipal firefighting world as well.
And then, you know, our initial response is always gonna be the same, you know, we wanna make sure we, we protect life first, protect property second, and then, and then prevent the incident from spreading third. So those, those priorities all remain the same. I like to hear about that. My background is all, uh, behind the computer.
You know, I've never been to a structure fire, or, you know, I, obviously my whole job is, um, as a fire protection designer is to prevent structure fires and it's just like other fire protection designers. It's likely that I may never see a structure fire, even though I spend my whole life designing around these kind of scenarios.
So yeah. I always like to hear about the physical rear world application of it. Yeah, no, I like out. 13 years being in this business, I've probably, I've only spent about two or three years in the operations side of it. And I spent the rest of my career in the prevention side. So I haven't seen a ton of actual fires either.
I've been to several investigations. So kind of after the fire's done kind of picking through it, I've done a lot of, uh, several, uh, system malfunction type of investigations, you know, like, uh, we've had a, you know, a foam dump or something, you know, why did that happen? There's no fire. What was the cause of that?
So those are always interesting too, but yeah, I spent most of my career in the prevention side. Well, that's a great time to transition. I wanted to ask you if you had ever been. Involved in any investigations for fires or, uh, other types of explosions or events like that. Can you tell me about one of those times or maybe a fire, or like you said before a, you know, a nuisance discharge of a foam system?
Yeah. Those can be costly. I know from personal experience that, you know, you have aircraft. Likely on the magnitude of millions to, you know, can be hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Aircrafts in these hangers and boom dumping on these planes can be extremely costly to everything in the hangers.
So just, uh, maybe you could tell me a little bit more about your experience in investigation on a back half of things of fire investigations. I, like I said, I've done a, I've done several of those. I I'm always more intrigued almost by the, um, the system activation because they're, they're not supposed to activate unless there's a fire.
Right. So it's like you have the system that's meant to do something that doesn't do. So I guess that's why I'm intrigued by, you know, why did it do this thing that, um, it's not supposed to do that everybody kind of worries about it doing, you know, they're interesting to, first of all, find out, you know, go to scene, Hey, find out what happened.
Here's what happened. And then it's interesting to kind of play it backwards there. Right? You know, for the system to have to have dumped its contents, what would've had to happen for that to take place. And then you realize, oh, okay, you trace it back. It could have been a, maybe it was a sill Andoid maybe there, you know, for you, you have to rule out all the things that it wasn't, you know?
Well, there's no one in the hangar at the time. So nobody pulled the bull station accidentally. Isn't com. It isn't, isn't not saying that they did, so no one pulled the pool station. There was actually, there was no fire for sure. Right. You look around for evidence of that. So you can rule those two things out.
Maybe, maybe it was the weather. You know, I know we've had a couple where, um, a lightning strike actually set off some, maybe some alarm systems or things like that. One hanger I investigated, uh, the system had dumped, it turned out that it was in the middle of a bad. Tropical storm force, wind type storm.
What had actually happened is the foam release pool station had gotten water down inside the back of it, and it had shortened it out and called the OID to open, which caused the system to dump. That was an interesting one. Just stuff like that, looking for that, you know, what is that thing? Cause you see things that every investigation is different and every time you do one, you realize.
Something else that could have happened. You know, you might have done 10 investigations and that 11th was something completely different than all the other 10. I'm really involved in the, uh, the codes and standards side of the thing. I like, I sit on several committees and I like doing that work. That's I always tell people that's the most important part of the job is even more than the enforcement is.
Being on that being in that process, whether you write and develop these. So getting to these investigations find, Hey, here's what's happening. That really can inform a lot of that code development process and FPA 49, the standard for aircraft hangers, you know, they're revision cycle right now, the big conversation was about, you know, the insurance companies are saying, Hey, we're, we're not seeing any hangar fight.
We're seeing a lot of these foam dumps that are costing us, lots of money. So what can we do to, to change that or address this issue? And so a lot of changes are coming out to actually address that, to say, Hey, maybe we don't. Foam in every single. And as many hangers as we think we do as the code currently requires.
So what can we do to not without creating that greater risk, what can we do to still mitigate the risk, but maybe also cut down those costs and those activations and that foam damage. That's a lot of good points there touched on a couple things that I'd like to expand upon first off. Yeah. I mean, as far as fire investigations, I think it's so interesting.
You'd think that in a time like today 2020, where we have systems that are digital. Will log record of all the events during a fire or a fire alarm activation. You'd think it'd be clear. Cut what caused these system activations or these nuisance foam dumps. But the reality of the situation is, is a lot of times the line is a lot more blurry than that.
in determining how these systems activated when they weren't supposed to. So yeah, I resonate with what you said about ruling out all the factors, going back through a video of who was there and what was happening in the hanger. So there's a lot of different ways that you can ferret out what happened or what didn't happen.
So I like what you said about that. Yeah. And then sometimes, you know, these invest, you find out that they actually did what they were supposed to do. I mean, um, it was just maybe. Someone, I didn't know what they were doing, actually set it off. Like, I know for example, we had, we had one system that dumped.
It was, um, they were like a calfs type of system, compressed air foam system, kind of like a mobile mobile type of unit. And they, they had a flame detector that would make them operate. And, um, one of those discharge who were trying to go into the investigative process and we turned out that, you know, was somebody across the airfield, welding on something without weld.
That welding spark caught a reflection inside the hanger and it called that to go off. So the system actually didn't malfunction. It worked as it was supposed to, it just wasn't under the. Context, I guess you'd say, so those are interesting too, you know, cause it's not like, oh, a bad system. I can't believe this thing did this it's no, the system actually did what it was supposed to do.
You know, it thought it saw a fire, which it did. It just wasn't right there. That's interesting. And you know, I have some experience with flame detectors and, you know, depending on the brand or, you know, the complexity of the flame detector, a lot of flame detectors are notorious for nuisance alarms. And you know, if you talk to anybody.
Any of the manufacturers for flame detectors. That's the number one thing that they are trying to say that their detector does not have, but, uh, it's kind of interesting. They're not all made all flame detectors are not made equal. And so there's a large gradient of, you know, on your Cadillac version of your flame detector versus, you know, the cheapest that you could get a flame detector, you know?
So that plays a part in it. That I didn't have, I didn't have any knowledge of that before I got into aviation fire protection and you know, there's quite a range there. So I always thought that was interesting. Another thing I wanted to ask you about is you mentioned committees, uh, that you sit on or that you're a part of, I've heard from different.
People who I've talked to that it's of great value to be a part of these committees for different codes and standards and 4 0 9 is a huge one. Um, yeah. Can you tell me a little bit about some of the committees you're involved with or yeah. What that looks like? Yeah. So, I mean, like I said, I kind of, I preach it to my people at my department and pretty much anytime someone will listen.
You know, it's really the most important thing that you can do for, for the industry. And it's also, you know, not just not in a selfish way, but also for the career, your career as a whole. I mean, um, it's good for the industry cuz you're contributing to it. You're actually, um, if you're on the ground, you're seeing what goes on from whatever perspective, whether you're an engineer, a designer, a firefighter, or an inspector, you're seeing a different perspective of how this code's applied and being on those committees and being able to, or not even, even if you're not on the committee, you can still provide input.
So providing those inputs and taking. Part in that process. Um, it, it goes a long way and it makes a big difference. It's very important. And, and it's great for your professional development, I guess I should say rather than for your career, but for your professional development as well. You're you go to these meetings and you're with, you know, some of the people that have, they've been doing this for a long time and there's a wealth of knowledge on these committees.
It's like a. You know, they pull all the knowledge and the subject is all sitting in this one room. And, um, so you get to kind of, it's a great learning experience as well, to learn from and talk to these people. Yeah. I mean, so with the, you know, the, the NFPA and the ICC, they have kind of different process and, um, I'm, I'm a little bit more involved with the NFPA side.
They have more, more committees and more codes and standards and things like that. That require committee work. So I I'm PRI I'm on several committees, but I'm primary. Involved with the, the aircraft facilities committee, which is 4 0 9, 4 15 and 4 23, and also the RF operations committees as well, which that includes things like an FP 4 0 2 and all the operational sides of the aircraft rescue.
Industry, all the codes that apply to that. Uh, yeah. I was looking at some of your work, some of your writing work and you know, I'm from I'm well familiar with 4 0 9, but I am a lot less familiar with the other, um, aircraft firefighting and other 400 series. Aircraft NFPAs, it's wild that there are so many NFPAs and, you know, there's so much good content, but it's hard for any one person to be, you know, knowledgeable in all of 'em.
There's just too many to wrap your arms around, but I'm not even really aware of four 15 or 4 23 or some of the other ones you listed. So, yeah, that's really interesting. I think that's incredible. And it's neat too, as. Kind of a point of education to be able to explain to, to the public or to your customer, you know why that code was.
Put into place. Why is it, you know, cause say, well, I don't understand why I have to do that. Or why does, why does that matter? Um, and you could kind of from being in those committee meetings, listening to the conversations and being able to kind of trace the history of that code. And that code change is neat to be able to educate and say, well, you know, here's what we ha here's, here's how we got to this point.
And that's why I tell people too, like, you know, you for the FPA, you have to, you know, there's an application process to be a committee member, but you don't have to be a member. You can go as a guest and just still take part in the process. So I always tell people. If you don't share about committee membership or being part of a committee, but you're interested in the topic, you can RSVP as a guest and show up at a meeting and doesn't cost you anything.
You go there and sit and learn. And, um, even as a guest, you know, you're, you're, you're able to ask questions and those kind of things. So I never knew about that. That's. That's good information for everybody. Who's a fire protection professional. Wasn't aware that that was even a possibility. Yeah, I haven't ever applied for any committees, but, um, after I've spoken with some of the people, um, through fire code tech, I.
I'm like, man, I need to get on that. I need to get involved in, you know, I have been involved with some professional societies and whatnot, but it, it seems like, um, joining a committee, whether it be for ICC or N F P S F P E, or even, you know, there's some good committees around other fire protection certifications, it seems like.
That there is a lot of benefit to be gained and to contribute to these committees. So, yeah, that's really interesting in the ICC, they have what they call a code action committee. So they have fire code action committees, which is, uh, again, they're our member of that committee. You can goes a guest to those as well.
Uh, there's a fire code action committee and a building code action committee. And they kind of are, you know, groups professional that are kind of, they're going to, um, Create code proposals and code changes to bring to the code hearing. So, um, it's a little, the process looks a little bit different, but it's still, you know, you still have the same.
Opportunity to get involved and to provide input and to gain professional development and knowledge from the people that are in those rooms as well through the ICC process. It seems like that the ICC code committees are the most coveted or the most hard to get into. Seems like from the people who I've talked to those chairs are the most sought after, because.
At the end of the day, if it's not code, it's not enforceable by law, or, you know, if it's not even tangentially, uh, related to law or code, you know, if it's not a reference standard, then it's really hard to make it stick for sure. I mean, well, I mean, you know, so the NFPA has over 300 codes and standards and some of those codes and.
Have multiple committees that make up just that one standard, like for example, an FPA 1 0 1 has several different committees. So there's a lot more opportunities and they need a lot, there's a greater need for more bodies to kind of contribute to that process. And, you know, I think the other thing too, is that the ICC, they have the international building code, which is used in probably all 50 states, you know, um, whereas, you know, NFPA, they have an FP 5,000, which is their version of the building code, but it's.
I don't think it's used in any state. So, you know, you have a lot more reach and less seats with the ICC and, um, you know, a lot more seats with the N FPA, but for sure. Yeah. Another thing that you spoke about before is, you know, the need of foam and it's not uncommon that. I get into conversation with customers and even with engineers, uh, where they ask, why do we need foam?
Why can't we just use water? How common is a hanger fire? And like you said, just a lot more nuisance, uh, foam dumps than hanger fires. Yeah. I think it was an interesting point, especially with the department of defense and they just released their budget. Basically saying that they don't want anymore a F and their D O D is moving towards flooring, free foam and that whole mess.
So, yeah. I didn't know if you had any more thoughts on foam and just where the industry's going with that. I mean, kind of to on the tail of what you were just say saying, I mean, that's the biggest, the biggest thing right now, the biggest. Change or the trending topic is just PFOS and PFO free foams and making sure they're not carcinogenic and they're safe for people in the environment.
So that's the big, the big thing kind of in the industry. And, you know, if you think about the reason that we require foam and hangers anyways, is for the large, the risk or, or hazard of large fuel fuel spills and large fuel fires. And then, you know, the, the industry at large, isn't really seeing a huge number of those and, and sometimes your, your hanger size can.
How's a certain size of an aircraft anyway, no matter what, and you know, you're not gonna have the same, you're not gonna have that, that risk of a large fuel spill and fuel spill ignition, isn't gonna be as great. So I think those are the changes we're seeing and, and happening. So I think it's a combination of both of those, you know, a lack of seeing the large fuel spill fires and the, and also wanting to go to that.
You know, the, the carcinogenic free and environmentally friendly type of foam type of product as well. Definitely. I see that. Yeah. It's causing a big, a lot of strain now for, you know, firms like my firm where, you know, there's a lot of people don't know trying to get flooring, foams listed with different discharge devices, you know?
Oh. So we have a flooring free foam. , but it's not listed with all of the high expansion foam generators, and it's not, you know, listed for these discharge devices. So I feel like it's a huge race to get, not only the foam UL listed, but get the foam's interaction with the discharge vice, um, listed and ready to go.
Cuz I mean, essentially. almost nobody is gonna touch a, you know, a foam product or a, uh, foam generator combination. This not listed you all listed or FM approved. So, yeah, it's an interesting time. In the fire protection industry right now. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I wanted to hear a little bit more about your, um, time as an inspector.
Can you take me through what a day as an inspector would look like or what that job is kind of like? Yeah, so I mean, it, I mean, it, obviously it varies based on what jurisdiction you, you work within or, um, what industry you're in, but it, you know, as a municipal inspector, uh, I had the opportunity to work at a smaller department and a smaller jurisdiction.
So. Um, that gave me an opportunity to be involved in all, in all facets of the fire prevention field. So I was, you know, I was responsible for fire plans, review I'd go and inspect the same things I reviewed. Uh, I would do investigations when they came up and happened as they happened. Um, and then also public education was a big was on my plate as well.
So, um, it was a. Opportunity, especially when I was, uh, new in my career to be able to put my hands on all of those things and be able to kind of work in work in all different industries, all different occupancy types and all the way from in water, supply underground, all those kind of things, all different systems, all the way from the.
The plan review part all the way to the final inspection, acceptance test, and then doing some, you know, then you go back a few years later, you do the existing building inspections. Um, see, see what might have changed, what might be different. Um, so that was a great opportunity and I know some larger jurisdictions don't inspection might not have that opportunity.
If you're assigned to plan review, then that's all you do is plan review, and you might not ever be able to go out and see the actual completed pro product. Or you might just be in public education. That's all you do too, which those are all. All those are great fields. There's not, not a problem with any of 'em, but it was really good to be able to have the opportunity for me to be able to put my hands on all of those things and that kind of, you know, set me up for success and career field, where I moved to right now.
Um, and now it's kind of the fire marsh kind of leading the programs. Um, I, I, again, get to keep my hand in all that, but I'm in the, in private industry, you know, it's a little bit different spend a lot of my time. More developing standards and policies and procedures. Um, making sure we're in compliance with all the different, maybe it's a government contract or FM global.
Insurance provider requirements, company policies. Um, and then, you know, also get that time to kind of see, look at the industry at large and say, Hey, what's coming up and, and being involved in that code and standards process, that takes some time as well. So yeah, I mean, it's a, it's a great field to be in.
There's lots of opportunities for what you like to do. I know you kind of mentioned a little bit, but you know, I. I got involved kind of in the blogging and writing and content development about 10, probably about, yeah, about 11 years ago now. And you know, you wouldn't think maybe that the fire protection field is something where you get to use that, that creative part of your, of your brain, but you definitely do.
And so that's, what's, that's, what's great about the, the field, you know, there's so many opportunities to, to kind of, um, implement the things you enjoy. I can totally, I really resonate with that Senti. There's so much room in fire protection for people who are passionate and so much opportunity. Uh, I wish I could encourage more people getting into, you know, just coming outta high school or, you know, getting into their professional career that, you know, how much.
The fire protection field has to offer, because it's like you said for you and it has been for me too, it's been very rewarding and a lot of opportunity and just so, uh, good as far as development and opportunity, but. Yeah. I'd like to get into your writing. It seems like you're quite a prolific writer and you have so much good content online for fire protection and, uh, aircraft firefighting and different training and education materials.
So that's pretty incredible. That's you don't see that too often for fire protection professionals. So, yeah, that'd be great. If you could talk about that a little bit more. You know, share about your fire protection content creation. Yeah. Yeah, no, it sounds good. I, um, so I got started. . I started with a little, a little blog, the code coach.com.
It's still online. And I started about 10 years ago and it kind of came about because as I was doing those plan reviews and inspection, I'd see something I have a question about. So I'd sit at my desk and find the answer. Then I started thinking, oh, you know what? Somebody else might have the same question.
So I'd write a little thing up about it. Um, so that's kind of how it, how it evolved. And then through time through that, I was able, I realized that it was a great tool to be able to contact people from all over the, all over the world about. Fire protection issues or problems or concerns or things you're seeing.
So I started, started being enabled, enabled to, um, that kind of put me out there and maybe able to enable me to contact. Other people in the industry. So that was a great tool and experience. So I continued doing that and, and then probably about three years into it, I wanted to get more serious with it.
And, um, so I started blogging almost every day. Then I went down to about every week and then I was pretty consistent for the next few years, putting a post out every one to two weeks. And so. From being out there that kind of led to something else which I'd wanted to do, which was consulting type of work.
And so that attracted the view of a couple initial clients that got me involved in the, in doing code and standards consulting for them. And then, um, I, I enjoy writing. So I started writing. Other content as well. I did some long form content moved into, I wanted to try some books and publishing. Um, so I did that.
I guess I'm a, my, uh, my therapist would say I'm a, maybe a little bit of an egomaniac, right. So I like to see myself in print. So I said, oh, I could probably get into a couple magazines or something for the fun of it. So I did that and that's kind of where it is. And from that people, people see your name and ask you to help 'em with stuff.
And that's what I like to do. I like to help people with their problems, especially it's related to fire protection. So I started getting. getting more clients that wanted me to write content for them and, and. Some clients as well, that wanted me to do some code codes and standards, research and development as well.
So I kind of took off from there. You know, there's a lot of, a lot of people have a lot of knowledge and a lot of knowledge to share. And some people look at maybe getting published in a magazine or something as like a. A big challenge. Um, but the truth is, especially with the, the trade publications in your industry, no matter what it is, mine's fire protection, but maybe if it's plumbing or whatever it might be, you know, those, the truth is that those publications are looking for people that can provide content and can and can write.
And, and sometimes you don't have to be a great writer cuz you're gonna be edited and work with somebody. So that's always a, a good thing too. So I always like to encourage people to, you know, reach out to those editors or those publications and tell 'em your idea. The chances are better, that I'll work with you and want to take your project on than, than not.
That's infinitely interesting to me. Yeah. It's almost like you read my mind, cuz I was gonna ask how you go about, you know, contacting one of these magazines or scholarly publications for how to get published and how to get involved with that. It seems like a daunting task. Yeah. I. I love the idea of writing and, you know, blogging, but, uh, I'm not the strongest writer.
So it's, uh, that's really interesting to hear you say that. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's just, and you know, it takes work so you, your first thing you write, isn't gonna be very good, but the more you do it, the, the better you get at it, I think it was Ernest, Ernest Hemingway, who said, um, the first draft of anything is shit.
So that was coming from a. Well known writer. So you can always, you always have that sous. I like that. that's good. So say that you're you approach, um, one of the places that you've been published in, and so you just, you said that through the editor or through, they may have a call to writers for different publications or yeah.
What does that look like when you are gonna start that process of being published in a. Yeah. So there's a few ways there are, if you, the first thing I would do is find the publication that I would want to be published in, or that pertains to my industry and go to that website. And on that website, you wanna look for a couple things you wanna see if they have a.
A special spot where you can like a call for submissions or, uh, you know, submit your proposal, your article here. And then you kind of go to that page, usually explains what they want you to do. And, and the important thing about do that is following those instructions. If they realize that you follow instructions and they're gonna think, oh, this is something we can work with.
But if you submit something that doesn't meet their format or isn't what they're looking for, then they're gonna, you know, obviously you're not gonna. Get published, cuz they're gonna see that, you know, you're not gonna be able to, you can't follow directions and they're not gonna be able to work with you.
So the second, if they don't have that on the website, then the second thing to do is to find the editor of the publication and um, find the out who that editor is. I love, I love LinkedIn. That's primary social media I'm on. But look, 'em up on LinkedIn. Find out a little bit about 'em and, and what they're doing and who they are a little bit, then reach out to them, get via email, send 'em an email and then send 'em a proposal of your.
Of your, of your idea, you know, tell 'em a little bit, your proposal. Should you kind of wanted to grab him from the first couple sentences of the email? So kind of hit him with the main, the big point and then maybe break it down a little bit, tell 'em, Hey, how you're gonna, how you gonna get to that main point and then always tell 'em about who you are and why you're the guide to write the article.
Um, but that's pretty, pretty much it that's good. You broke it down in clear and concise steps. That's great. That's good information. Uh, for anybody who's interested in being published. I think, uh, you talked a little bit about your, uh, consulting work and it sounds like you're consulting and your career as a writer for technical publications kind of go hand in hand, but yeah, I'd like to hear a little bit more about.
Consulting work or your code consulting work, if you wouldn't have mind going into that a little bit deeper. Yeah. So, um, I, I kind of like to, um, I'm not the type of personality that can go and just sit at a job for 30 years and just do that. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but that's not my personality.
I get kind of, kind of antsy a little bit. So I always like to, again, my fire marshal job is the, is my day job and I love it and enjoy it, but it's always nice. I would like to have two or three clients also that that require other work and other challenges out out of me and also my own projects going on.
So I started taking them on and, um, usually they find me. Um, based on whatever their needs are. So I've worked in different industries, um, done a lot in the, um, fire stopping and compartmentation type of industry. Some fire rated glazing work, um, the sprinkler industry as well. Um, so a lot of the, the consulting type of work is based on codes and standards development.
Right. We want people to, um, they're looking for consultant who can monitor. Code changes, right? Because the, the guy that makes, uh, let's just say fire rated glass, he knows how everything about making glass, but he might not know everything about the code processes of an FPA or ICC or ASTM or UL. So he needs an expert.
That's gonna. Follow those codes for him. See, Hey, what's going on? And kind of protect his interest and look out for his interest in the industry. Or then maybe the, that glass guy has a new product. He wants to bring to market. What are the codes and standard are gonna prevent that from happening or what kind of formula might he have to use to make sure that that gets prove.
So they're gonna look for an expert that understands the codes and standards and. Can monitor them first of all, but it can also write proposals and kind of advocate for them on the different committees and then the different codes that have been affect their business. So that's kind of the consulting part.
And then the other thing I do is the, the content development. Again, people want content nowadays, especially with online, and that's how you get noticed. And, and, and business is being online and getting your, the more content you have, the, the more likely the algorithms are gonna find you and put. Here's sighting your information to the top.
So, um, content's kind of king. And so I, I write content and focused on. On the fire protection side of things. Very interesting. So it sounds like you not only have to be aware of codes and standards, but also testing and different mechanisms to where people acquire listing and a whole myriad of other different parts of fire protection, because of, if somebody wants to want your help with their glazing product or, uh, whatever product it may be, you have to.
Knowledgeable about not just the codes and standards, but how they might need to meet the code and what tests they might need to conduct to be compliant. Right. Exactly. Yeah. So we've touched a little bit about some of these professional develop development talk topics, but yeah, I just wanted to ask, do you have, in your mind, are there any emerging trends in your field, uh, as a fire marshal or.
Just as a fire protection, uh, code consultant or professional. Yeah. I mean, uh, there's a few things, I guess, that have caught my attention in the last, probably over the last year or so that I've kind of been paying attention to. One is the, uh, and fire extinguisher. So there's a company out there called Russo, R U S O H.
And they Haven a product called the eliminator. And what that is, it's a self-service fire extinguisher. So basically the, you know, the extinguisher industry now works as you have your metal extinguisher on the wall. And it has to be serviced every year. So someone, a technician comes out and services it every few years, it has to be hydro statically tested based on what type it is and that metal can have different things go wrong with it, right.
It can get corrosion damaged, dented, whatever, but the Russo, this company called Russo they've, I've actually had opportunity to talk to the creator of the product and S and he's a really neat, neat idea. It's a neat, companies' a neat guy. They, um, they created a, an extinguisher that it doesn't require.
Any annual service and, uh, a business owner can, can basically do a monthly inspection on it himself. And you don't have to know anything about extinguishers or how they work. The, the Russo company actually has a little training thing on their site to show you how to do it, but anybody can service this extinguisher in every 10 years you replace it.
It's made of some kind of, um, poly like a plastic. So it doesn't, it's not subject to like corrosion or anything like that. Um, but that's a really neat product. I think that's something that's gonna change that the extinguisher industry is probably hasn't had, uh, any earth shattering changes in quite a long time.
Um, but I definitely would encourage you to check that out. So Russo eliminated our S O H. Um, so that's pretty. And then the, uh, yeah, and you can save a lot, save a lot for big companies that have, you know, 300, 400, a thousand or more extinguishers. You're gonna save a lot of money on service work on and even on replacement.
So we did like a quick kind of back of the napkin type of analysis for one of our sites. And it was, it was gonna save about $40,000 over three years, just. Paying the service technician that we would come out to serve with that every year. So that's a, quite a bit of savings and that's on only about 200 extinguishers.
So, but, um, definitely worth checking out. The other thing, I don't know a lot about this product yet, but I've been hearing some about it is the electronically activated sprinkler. I don't know if you've seen those or not, but that seems like it's gonna a game changers, despite I know Tyco has one. I don't, I don't know who else manufactured it, but that seems like it's, uh, something definitely to watch in the.
and then I think the last thing, the last thing I would say is, um, I know within the kind of brings all the industries together, brings it together, your, your, um, your, your HJS, you municipals, your fire inspectors, and it brings together your building owners and your, your sprinkler fire alarm. Technicians is third party reporting probably started coming out about five years ago or so.
And so what third party reporting does it's software that kind of connects those three industries together and what it really, what it really does for the fire department is it, it helps in their risk reduction efforts, right? They don't have to go out and they don't have to go out to every occupancy.
Now, those occupants are submitting the reports. A cloud system or a web-based system that an inspector can just log on and see, okay, this company's compliant. I don't need to go out there and hound them about their fire, their fire, sprinkler inspection, or they can get notified of only the. The, um, the major deficiencies now I say, okay, so I don't need to go out to these ones.
They're fine. But this one has a major de to go check out. So I think that's definitely an important thing in the industry as well. It's third party reporting. There's several different companies that are doing that, but, um, that's, I think it's a big thing that's gonna help communities be. More safe on the, uh, I not, I feel like I've seen something about the eliminator on social media, but I could be wrong, but, uh, that sounds like an interesting product.
It's just like the way that it's constructed makes it easier for people to be able to inspect or I, yeah, I don't fully understand what part of it. So it's like, um, the, the powder inside the extinguisher has to be fluffed occasional, so it won't work. It won't activate properly. So there's like a little wheel on the bottom of the extinguisher.
It can turn that fluffs it. So that part of the monthly inspection. Owner can do is just go through and turn that wheel half a turn and it fluffs the powder. Um, it's also cartridge operated. So the cartridge, so the, the cancer itself, isn't always under pressure. Like a normal extinguisher might be. So it's only under pressure if you, when you need to use it.
So that also, so it doesn't have to be hypothetically tested every so often anymore. Um, and then the, the components themselves, for example, if you discharge the extinguisher, you have a fiery discharge extinguisher, you pay 40 or 50 bucks and they send you a refill kit. That includes the. A new new seals and a new CO2 cartridge.
So, whereas before you'd have to call a company to come out service that, or buy a whole new unit. This company's made it to where you just buy the parts you need. That seems like a good innovation fire extinguishers. You know, you get into situations and military applications where they don't even want the fire extinguishers because of how much of a hassle it is to keep 'em around.
And. You know, I was having a conversation the other day, how many people really know how to use a fire extinguisher? So if there was a fire situation, you know, would you really want a lay person, you know, engaging in trying to fight a fire that could be bigger than a trashcan or sizable that's? Is that the situation that you really want people to be, uh, who don't have experience in fire protection?
You know, Fighting this fire. So I think that's interesting. Yeah, the fire department, they just want you to get outta the building, you know? So that's the main thing we want you to get out. We don't, you really sit there trying to be a firefighter. I think most that comes with education, right? You educating your public or your customer.
Hey, listen, we want you to get out. That's the main thing, but if it's something you think you can handle in here in the right. Position you're in a safe spot for that. And your, you have a, your exit's clear, it's a small, garbage can fire then. Yeah. It might be better to use extinguisher if you can. That way we don't have a, a water mess to clean up, but if not important things that you get out and for sure.
Yeah. Another thing I. The two things that you mentioned had a lot to do with ITM being, uh, reduced or, you know, made easier? Well, that one was through the physical operation of the device, but the other one. Was about reporting it, something that I've seen recently is, you know, fire alarm notification devices that have the ability to test themselves, um, due to the operation.
I forget which company specifically has 'em, but I think that in the future, Ease of maintenance and testing through technology. And through just electronic convenience is gonna be a big deal for our industry and does do these pressure gauges and these valves, you know, really get checked at the, uh, frequencies that are code required, you know, in the commercial world.
Oftentimes, sadly, that's not the case, but yeah, I definitely think. We're gonna see a lot of change in the next 10 years in, uh, remote testing and that sort of thing. So I thought that was interesting. Yeah, definitely. No, I think it's a good time to be in this industry. So other thing is I didn't really understand.
So what is third party reporting? I'm not really aware of what that is. So a third party reporting is like a, um, so I actually represent a company. Um, cause I thought it was such a great idea. They're called inspection reports online. So I represent them in the state of Florida, but they provide, um, so what third party reporting is, it's just, it's a, so our role inspection report online is its own company, right?
So that's like the third party. So if you have a jurisdiction, like a fire department, they will, um, say, all right, we want all of our. Contractors that are doing system inspections. When they do it, they got to business, they do an inspection on the sprinkler system where they submit their report to the third party, which may maybe inspection reports online that way.
And then what inspection reports online can do, they can communicate with the, between the building owner, the contractor, and the fire department on the status of that system, that inspection when it's due. And so what the third party a lot of times does, is it takes. The time that would be spent by an inspector that would have to kind of maybe try to coordinate or, or get that building owner to take action.
So the third party can look at that inspection and say, okay, this building owner needs to, they need a new flow switch or a new, they need to change some sprinkler heads out. So the third party can actually coordinate that and kind of work between the, the contract and the building owner, make sure that gets done.
And then they can actually clear that inspection so that when the, the fire department logs on, they say. They had an issue with their sprinkler system. The building owner took care of it. So I don't have to worry about that building. Cause then now they have a clear inspection report. So it kind of frees what it does.
Is it frees up your fire department to let them do other things that are important because one of the biggest things in the fire service, especially fire prevention bureaus is, is staffing. So you have limited people, limited, limited manpower and resources. So that third party reporting kind of in a lot of way, act a lot of ways.
It acts as. Almost another employee because you're you have that company taking care of that, that part for you and a lot of these companies, like I know for I, and, um, I'm sure some of the other providers as well, you know, that the cost for that service doesn't go to the fire department, but it, it just gets passed on and it's minimal.
It gets passed onto the contractor and they just add it to their. Service charge or whatever, seems like a clean way to go about it. And if you're really above board and are keeping up with all of your maintenance needs, like every owner should be then sounds like a good solution. Yeah. Then the fire department says, well, I don't need to go to that business every year.
I can maybe only go every two or three years. I can see that. Doing what they're supposed to be doing. Their reports are here. They're always on time with their inspections. And so that third party kind of helps to, um, again, it's, it's decreasing the risk in your community, the fire risk or loss of life to your community, um, by, by maintaining that and tracking that and making sure this can get done.
And also it helps by. Whenever a, a major deficiency occurs well in the past, you might have to wait for that contractor to send the report to the fire department or to notify them somehow. Or did they get notified? You don't know, but if there's a major deficiency, then as soon as they submit it to the.
to that third party, like there's supposed to be in a lot of states or counties or cities will make it will do that through legislation. That'll make part of their local ordinance that you have to use as software. You have to submit within such an amount of time, 24 hours or whatever it might be. So now what that will do through technology in the internet and email, as soon as you get a one of those major deficiencies, that it automatically will alert whoever the fire department needs for it to alert.
And then an inspector can immediately go out and follow up on that and make sure. That the proper action's taken. So there's a lot of opportunities with it and a lot of benefits, um, to the community as a whole, but also for, for fire departments, even, you know, giving them more time to, to focus on knowing the things they need to focus on.
And it's a big thing for our industry, for sure. That sounds very interesting. It sounds like it has a lot of promise. I think we're at, you know, the uptick of, you know, I feel like fire protection is a little bit. Uh, in regards to technology or just, uh, in general, but I feel like in the next, uh, five, 10 years, we're gonna see a lot of these things become commonplace.
So, yeah. And about the electronic sprinklers? Uh, yeah, I guess I'm really interested by 'em, but, uh, I don't know. Yeah. I guess maybe I'm being a little bit curmudgeony about, you know, like not knowing about 'em and, you know, questioning as I'm sure a lot of people are. Impacted them, or, you know, my view as a, as an engineer is, you know, as much as I love designing the, you know, the high expansion foam or the a F or systems, you know, uh, most of the time, my job is specify the most cost efficient, safest, most reliable system that I can.
You know, whenever I can, which is generally a we pipe fire suppression system. So yeah, I just don't know how that plays in, uh, electronic sprinklers play into that scenario yet. I guess I'm just not real informed. Yeah. No, I don't know a lot about 'em either. I just, so you know, I've read a little bit and heard a couple.
This is a couple podcasts about 'em, but I don't know. I've never really had any hands on experience, I guess, from the, um, from the AJ fire marshal side, I guess my initial thought is it seems like an extra piece of the system that could fail when needed, but I'm sure that's all vetted. They're all UL listed in that anyway, but that's just my initial thing.
Why would be my initial thought and likes how the cost, I mean, now you have each, it looks like each head is each head or series of heads has to have an, a heat detector attached to it. So, yeah, that's significant, you know, considering each one of those heat, each one of those heat detectors is, you know, 300 to $400 a pop, you know, so you're saying, oh, you know, in addition to your, you know, three to, you know, three.
$20 to sprinkler head. You also gotta have these detectors. I don't care. I don't care about it, but I work with a lot of architects and interior designers that would be like, why do we have even more of these ugly looking fire protection devices all over the place. So, yeah, you know, I, I don't care if it works and, you know, like to install it and, you know, be a part of a system like that.
But I could see an owner, an architect or a. You know, uh, interior designer being like, what are you trying to do here? with all these extra ceiling devices. So, yeah, that's kind of an interesting thought. Yeah. And maybe, like I said, I haven't done a lot of research and I don't really have any hands on experience, but.
It probably would be cost effective in some type of high value properties. It might be even more cost effective than a pre-action system. I don't know, but probably depends on the application, but no, I think it's definitely a neat, neat innovation and something kind of, kind of cool in the industry.
Definitely on the topic of professional development, you've given a lot of great pieces of advice so far in this podcast about committees and about content creation and about just for young profess. Or just professionals in general, but yeah, I just wanted to ask what a piece of advice would you have for young professionals or for people getting into the fire protection industry?
Well, I mean, I always recommend to read reading is good, no matter what you're reading. Um, most people don't, don't like to read, but, um, it's definitely a great way to enhance your knowledge, especially. And, um, if you're reading something specifically related to fire protection, I always tell people, you know, if you, even, if you hate reading and, um, you can at least read maybe.
You know, take that big book or that magazine and, you know, read one chapter per day, if that's all it takes to get you through it and say, I read my chapter day and move on, but you're definitely gonna gain something from that. Um, so definitely read and I do tell people to, um, you know, to get, get involved in, in, in an organization, whether that be a local organization, like, uh, maybe a fire marshals association or a fire chiefs association, or a local chapter of, um, like an ICC or an SF P, but get involved.
Um, you know, talk to people cause that's how you're gonna learn and, and you'll need someone to, to, to go to, uh, when you have a question and, um, and so that, those are always good. And I like, again, I go back to LinkedIn. I like being on LinkedIn and building relationships with people in the field because those are also are part of my network, no matter where they're at locally or far away, if I've met 'em or not, and get part of groups on LinkedIn, you can just put a question out there within minutes, or sometimes second, you.
A bunch of different responses and places to look and go to for information. So read, meet people and then in the industry and. Go on LinkedIn and join some of those groups. That's great advice. Yeah. I think that, um, learning and building connections is always sound advice. Each time I talk to professionals, it seems like the number one piece of advice I get is, you know, read your codes, read your standards, you know, be involved.
It's something that's so hard to do. And a lot of people, uh, resist it or don't wanna do it, but it's the number one way you're gonna become an expert is by. Just being extremely knowledgeable about the layout, you know, how the codes and standards are developed or implemented. And so. That's a, that's a great piece of advice.
Yeah. I think reading is never a bad idea. And seeing, I always go back and try to tell people young professionals, you know, it may be tempting to, you know, pick the job with the biggest dollar amount attached to it, but what's equally as important. As, you know, how much money you're making is what kind of professional development you're getting and what kind of mentor you're working with.
So I think that plays into your building connections and, you know, being involved with the community because that is a very rich way to build knowledge and to, you know, you don't have to know everything if you are able to have people in your life that are experts as well. So that's good. Yeah. I mean, I remember some of those days just kind of starting out, like, that's what I would do.
I would take a section of the code, you know, the codes book kind of thick, but, um, if you take a section at a time and each day you're say, Hey, you learn a little bit about something else, you know? Um, you know, you might not know everything about flammable liquids, but today you might read a little section on flammable liquids cabinets.
And so you read a few paragraphs, you learned something, something even doing that. And you know, like I said, I, I love to read, I read almost everything. Um, but even reading fiction, you know, It helps cause it activates a creative part of your brain. Um, so if you can have that activated, then when you get, when you are faced with fire protection problems or that creative part of your brain has been activated kind of an exercise.
So even that helps. Yeah. I love that. I love to read and I think that's good for people. It's becoming something that's kind of lost. It seems like content today is becoming shorter and shorter and more bite-sized and you know, just kind of crunched down. But yeah, I think. The future of, uh, working in general is gonna be people who have the attention span and the, uh, capacity to, uh, work in the long form and produce content in the long form.
So, yeah, I agree with that. One question I had for you is can you tell me about a. That you had, or a project that you had was particularly, um, challenging or maybe one that you just found personally. Interesting. Um, yeah, so, uh, when I was, um, there's, there's several, but I know like the, um, there was one when I was a municipal inspector for my local county, um, we, they built a, they revamped the, the museum and so.
The museum actually has a, a hu a, a huge model T collection. And so it was the first time that I got to see these. It's like a, a display in parking. Parking carriage. So BA carousel. So basically there's a, a movable arm that would come and pull these cars outta their location and bring it up to like a window where you can see it.
So you can see all the cars in there. But if the, the museum visitor presses a button and wants to see a certain car with this carousel will come and we'll bring that car around to the window and we'll, you can spin that car around, look at it. So that was kind of a neat, uh, a neat new thing that I had seen back then.
And also that, that building was also the first time that I got to really get into. Dealing with pre-action sprinkler systems. Cause we don't really have a lot of those down here in, in my area, but, um, it was my first time to get, to be involved with those and, um, reviewing the plans for that and conducting the acceptance tests and all that kind of stuff.
So that was a, that was, it's always something that I remember. That's really neat. It's always fun. When you get to fire protection is such a neat field cuz fire protection touches pretty much every structure in some capacity. So. it's fun to be involved in, get to experience the breadth of, uh, all the different systems and devices and facilities that FP touches.
So that's cool. Yeah, absolutely. Well, Aaron, I wanna thank you for your time and thank you for coming on the podcast. I appreciate it. I think I've learned a lot of stuff just through talking, talking to you. So yeah, I just wanna thank you. Yeah, for sure. No problem. Thank you for having me and I, I always, I'm always up for opportunities to talk with somebody that, um, enjoys talking about fire protection stuff.
This is not too many people enjoy that. Definitely. Yeah. Yeah. I definitely talked my fiance's ear off about fire protection and she doesn't even want to hear that business. So anytime I can get a chance to talk to somebody about it, I'm all about it. I've bored. My fair share of dinner guests. so, Alrighty.
Well, thanks again. Thanks for listening. Everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business. The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes and standards interpretation.
Be sure to contact a licensed professional. If you are getting involved with fire protection and or life. Thanks again, and we'll see you next time.