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Sep 14, 2020

Tell me about your background and how you got into the fire service?
What is the difference between legacy construction and light weight modern construction?
Would you go over your upbringing in the fire service?
What is the approach for fighting a fire for a sprinklered building? When do you use the FDC?
What do you see as an impact of the Grenfell Towers Facade fire?
What kind of resources would you suggest for somebody who wants to know more about fire suppression and the fire service?

Bill Gustin is a Captain of the Miami Dade Fire Department and a 39 year veteran of the fire service.  In this episode of fire code tech we get into bridging the gap between fire service and fire prevention professionals.  Bill gives riveting accounts of his time in the fire services while contrasting legacy and modern construction and its impact of emergency response. 

If you want to learn more about Bill you can check him out at

Also he is a regular on Hump Day Hangouts

Here is a great fire suppression training video and how I found Bill



Hello, all welcome to the show. I'm Guss 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.

Welcome to episode 11 of fire code tech. Today we have bill Gustin. Bill is a 47 year veteran of the fire service and a captain of the Miami dad fire rescue department. He began his fire service career in Chicago area. And as a lead instructor in his department's officer development program. In this episode of fire code tech, we talked with bill about his mission to join the gap between fire suppression and protection professionals and the fire service bill presents a stark contrast between natural materials in legacy homes and legacy construction, as opposed to the new and advanced, lightweight construction and plastics that are found in commercial and residential occupancies everywhere.

Today, bill is an absolute fire hose of information about the fire service. If you have any interest in learning more about the interface point between fire protection and the fire service, you're gonna love this episode. I hope you enjoy the show and don't forget to subscribe and like us on social media.

Let's dive in. Well, hello, bill. Welcome to the podcast. Thanks for coming on the show. Well, thank you for the invitation Gus. Well, I just wanted to get started with a little bit about your background bill and how you got into the fire service. I didn't know if you could speak on that a little bit. Sure. I could.

I was blessed. Uh, my father was a Fireman's fireman, uh, a good family man, a world war II, south Pacific veteran. Uh, but also a Fireman's fireman entered the Chicago fire department in 1948 and he instilled in me certain values. That made me a student of the fire service very early in my life. I was fascinated with it.

And when I was in grade school, I was reading some of his reference or study material that he was using to study for the captain's exam. And, uh, , it's one of the books. I remember it was called the Ohio manual and it was basically basic overall, uh, fire prevention, fire behavior. I mean, this is like late 1950s vintage material, but I was fascinated as a young age.

And, uh, I, I grew up in a small town outside of BI Chicago. And, uh, every time that siren would, would, uh, would blow for the volunteer fire department, I would, uh, run to the fire station and I felt like I was a part of it at a very early age. So that's basically how I got started because, because of my dad.

That's awesome. Very interesting. Sorry, you were gonna go on, I've had a, a lot of blessings in my life. The, uh, area that I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago had a, uh, community college, college, U DuPage that had, and they were just starting out, just starting out in the early seventies and AB I didn't realize how good the two year fire science program was until much later in life.

How they get it. I still look at my notes that I rewrote. That's how I would study from 72 73, 74. I cannot believe how spot on these instructors were about alarm systems, uh, suppression systems, building construction, all things that, uh, at the time, we didn't know why it was important to become a lifelong student of fire suppression systems, detection systems, and building construction.

Well, before you can teach, you have to motivate, well, these instructors were motivators and they, uh, They instilled in me the desire and the knowledge that, uh, we need to know about these things, because they're basically dry subjects understand that firefighters people involved in fire suppression are surpr are, are adrenaline junkies, and they tend to find codes, uh, details of, uh, construction, uh, prolonged reading of, uh, technical, dry material, pretty boring.

What, in fact, it's a necessity. And, uh, now I will tell you this, uh, this also made a big impression on me is I said my dad was a Fireman's fireman. When he was on squad two in the skid row section west of downtown Chicago. They had the greatest loss of life per square mile area for fires. Of any industrialized country in the United States or I, uh, in the world, in the world.

And, but when he made Lieutenant, he went right into the fire prevention bureau. That's what you did. And he told me he hated it. He was in there almost two years, but in retrospect, it made him a much, much better fire officer. Well, how do, how does fire prevention relate to fire suppression? It's got everything to do with fire suppression.

How do you know how far your steroids are apart? How far your standpipe outlets are the construction of a building suppression system? Do you know the difference between a fire alarm, a supervisory signal and a trouble alarm? There's a vast number of fire suppression folks out there that don't know how to decipher what they're looking at on a fire alarm control panel.

Where do they learn that in the state curriculums, most states become a certified firefighter. There is very little about suppression systems, alarm systems, and fire codes in that curriculum. It's mostly ropes and knots, of course, heavy of course, into emergency medical services. Extrication of course, you know, with the jaws of life search and rescue hydraulics building systems, very, very, very little.

That's very interesting. I like hearing you talk about your, your background and it's, it's fascinating to me. I can tell from watching your instructional videos online, that you have a very good grasp of fire science. Um, I was watching a video. You sent me yesterday and you were talking about, you know, the off gassing element of the fire and how that you can't extinguish a fire without, you know, cooling these basically heated gases from the fuel.

And it was just clear to me that not only. You know, do you have great experience in firefighting, but you have a really strong knowledge of fire science. So that's really fascinating. I do. And you know, I am I bragging? Yes, I am bragging, but it's been my lifelong work and I've spent my whole life doing this.

You know, fire is a gases phenomenon. Uh, it has to be the fuels have to be vaporized in order to burn. And I've experienced this. If you don't think fire is a gases phenomenon, just take a look and see what happened in Los Angeles. Over the weekend. It's a gases phenomenon and, uh, solids have to, uh, firmly decomposed ized and, uh, in our petrochemical environment today.

See, I'm an old bull here. Now. I was a firefighter in the early seventies. Early early seventies and we didn't even wear a breathing apparatus. We could put out a room content fire without a breathing apparatus, without a hood, a Nomex hood, or a PBI hood with Gardner gloves with a 65 gallon, a minute nozzle with an inch and a half hose line.

Why? Because back then just about everything in a, in a household was a naturally occurring material. Woo wood cotton. And, but today, just think in your lifetime, I don't know how old you are Gus, but, uh, I know I'm older than you. I'm probably the oldest guy in the room right now, but even in your lifetime dust, think of how many things that used to be made out of metal.

Are now made out of plastic. The whole environment has changed when you take a look at that underwriter's laboratory side by side, uh, comparison of, uh, the legacy, uh, like the 1960s, seventies living room, uh, versus the modern furnishings of today, which are basically polyester, poly chloride polyurethane foam, where the time for flashover years ago with naturally occurring materials was like 24 minutes today, less than three or four.

Four minutes. The whole thing has changed. It used to be that you could have a small volunteer fire department, have a, a fire in your house. And let's say it takes 'em 20 minutes to get there at best. The fire is still basically in the incipient phase today. No it's post flashover. And in many cases, because of the building being closed up, it's ventilation limited oxygen deprived.

In other words, the fire reached a crescendo, but then it ate up the available oxygen because petrochemical base material, in order for it to be converted into energy, has to unite with oxygen. Well, the amount of oxygen released or the energy released has to. Depended upon, do you have enough oxygen? Well, very quickly fires in today's structures, which have never been tighter in terms of energy efficiency, uh, weather tinting, or, uh, weather stripping and, uh, Thermo pain windows.

The fire reaches a ventilation limited or an oxygen deprived state very quickly to the point where there might not be anything showing in terms of smoke, pushing out of that building, because why? Because the fire is diminished in intensity. And when it diminished in intensity, it diminished in temperature and what's forcing the smoke out of a building is the pressure differential based upon the, the temperature.

So it is not uncommon today for fire apparatus to pull up on, uh, any type of structure and have nothing showing. But on closer examination, you got a dragon sleeping inside that building, just waiting for a good Gulf of oxygen. That's terrifying. That's really remarkable how the just, uh, more common use of plastics and materials with petrochemicals of them has created such a dramatic difference in, you know, the response time for fires and just everything involved around the fire service for all occupancies.

Really not just residential, but oh yeah. Gus, Gus, look at your business. You take a warehouse. We stored paper plates and paper cups. All right. And then we stop. We start storing styrofoam plates and cups. Will that sprinkler system deliver enough discharge density, gallons per minute, per square foot to cover the different commodity class?

Nope. No it won't brother. And that is a huge problem. You know, any firefighter. That looks at a building and says, ah, don't worry about that building. We'll never, we'll never, we'll never have a serious fire in that Walmart or that home Depot never because of sprinkler has never fought a nasty, dirty rotten soaking, wet, smokey, dangerous, toxic fire in a sprinkler building.

Now sprinklers have an incredible success rate suppression rate. And you know, there's never been a multiple loss of life in a fully sprinkler building, but it does not completely eliminate the problem because the problem is not the fire. Of course, it's the toxic gases. Definitely. That's all really fascinating stuff.

So I just wanted to, uh, give the people a little bit more background on your, uh, work history and some of the roles you've had up till now. Maybe you could speak a little bit about some more of your history in the fire service. And, uh, I know you started out in Chicago and then. Made some transitions, but yeah, I didn't know if you could go over that a little bit more.

I was never on the Chicago fire department, as I said, my dad was, but as a, uh, starting at about 14 years old, uh, they were pretty lax with, uh, you riding as a fire buff and, uh, I could, they would let me go as far as I could go and take the smoke. Uh, I mean, that's basically what it was. The movie back draft is so unrealistic except for one scene.

And that is the very first scene where the little kid is picking out a, a helmet and boots, uh, and a coat to, uh, ride the fire apparatus with his dad. And, uh, that was my experience at a very young age. And man, once you catch. You never lose it. You, you never lose it. I mean, I still have the same passion. I don't go to fires anymore.

Gus I'm 65 years old. Nobody told me I was too old. I told myself I was too old. It is a physically fit person's job. And I felt that, uh, I could not reach my standards anymore. So I don't. But when I first started out, uh, I was a paid on call, which is a volunteer that gets paid to go to drills and fires firefighter in Wheaton, Illinois.

And I, they gave me a part-time job, a, a fire inspector. I mean, I'm just a kid now, you know, I'm going to the community college and I'm making inspections. So at a very early age, I'm drawing up plot plans, plans of buildings studying the code and, and the, the town I grew up in Gus is main street USA. All over this country.

There are pictures of our downtown area, uh, in the 18 hundreds, when there were horses, uh, pulling wagons down the street, same buildings, same buildings. And I fought fires in those buildings in the seventies. Uh, the, the buildings are still there. And, uh, but my knowledge of building construction, it was like a living laboratory for me to, uh, be able to actually see buildings.

One. They were very proactive. They knew that they couldn't change the world. But one thing that they did that was very, very smart is they required every downtown business to install sprinklers in their basement because they knew there's no way, no stop in a basement fire. There's no stop in a basement fire.

And Gus, as we were saying before, Uh, we got online with our audience. Uh, it takes tragedies to, uh, affect change in the field of fire protection. Uh, if you are. In the fire protection business, whether suppression prevention, fire protection engineer, there are just certain landmark fires that you need to know that made a huge change in for the better the coconut Grove, uh, nightclub fire, which was a basement occupancy, uh, right after world war II, the 23rd street collapse, 23rd street in Broadway, where they had actually extended the walls of the boundaries of one of an art studio underneath the wonder drugs on, uh, 23rd street.

And, and what do we learn? How much fire you can have underneath you. And in many cases like wall bombs in New York city, how much fire you can have over your head and not know it. I experienced some things at a very young age that have just stuck with me my whole life. In September of 1973, we went, we were at a vol.

We were at a meeting that paid on calls, you know, call 'em volunteers. And we had a, a call for a fire at a drug store that was adjacent with a party wall to a grocery store. We went in there. It was a little bit of light whiskey, gray smoke. As we advanced an inch and a half line thinking that we had a fire in the storage area, about 200 feet deep into the building, we saw a bluish orange flame blow out of one of the, uh, air registers, HVAC registers.

We did not know that this building had a Bo string trust roof, had a tin stealing. And the fire was roaring roaring in that TRUS loft. And we didn't know it. And thank God we were not successful in pulling that ceiling because had we been successful? It would've been like opening up the damper of a wood burning stove.

So we got out of there and within minutes, the entire roof collapsed. It would've killed about 20 of us at a very early age, very early age, boing trust. Those are some hard lessons to learn. Well, yep. That's some very interesting things. Gus I experience that. I feel that I have a, a moral and professional obligation not to be silent about these things.

I mean, you may go your whole career and never have a fire in the trust loft of a boing trust building. There's very few of 'em left. But I need to pass that on. You can't go to every fire you can't learn while you burn. I remember mentioning to my dad when I was taking these fire science classes, dad, you know, I can't, you know, I like studying this, but man, I can't wait till I get on the Chicago fire department.

And, uh, I, I don't have to study this anymore. I'll be able to learn it firsthand. He said, wait a minute, wait a minute, bill, do you think you can learn everything you can, by going to fires, you won't go to enough fires and believe me, you don't wanna go to every fire because you'll find yourself going to fires.

You wish you never went to fires where people are killed. Kids are killed. God was he right? And then he added anyway, bill, I know firemen that go to two to three, working fires a day. And they're some of the dumbest bastards. I know. So just because you're going to a lot of fires. If you're not astute, you're not paying attention.

You're not gonna learn from 'em. You can go to 10 fires or you can go to one fire 10 times and study every and especially man, do you learn for the ones you made a mistake on? That's where you learn? Definitely. Yeah. I think that's a good comment on any profession, just cuz you do a lot of work. Doesn't mean you're good at it or.

Just cuz you, when you make a mistake in your career is when you have the biggest lessons learned. So yeah, that's good stuff. Yeah. And it's, you know, it it's could come as a price. Uh, I, God bless me. I was very lucky, uh, that, uh, I've experienced. I, uh, we had a fire in a, uh, uh, high school library. Completely windowless in, uh, 1980.

And it now, now that I think back on it, and I look at the, uh, research and fire dynamics done by N and underwriters laboratory, it was that classic ventilation limited fire. And that revised time temperature curve is in a sense deceivingly dangerous because it gives you the impression that when you make an opening, like opening a door to advance a hose line into a oxygen deficient fire, that the fire immediately roars back to life, negative, negative.

It could take from 100 to 200 seconds for enough oxygen to flow in and mix with the, uh, paralyzed products of combustion, the fire gas. Well, you could get pretty deep inside a fire area in 100 to 200 seconds. And that's what happened to me. Gus is we got in there and there was, uh, it was in a smoldering state.

The, uh, vandals had taken books and piled them high and set 'em on fire. We forced the door we went in that was like smoldering. It looked like a smoldering campfire, and within oh, maybe 30 seconds, it started to get bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. And now that I think back on it, it was exactly what we study with these ventilation limited or ventilation controlled fires back then.

We didn't have no me hoods. I ended up bunch of us did terrible burns. Uh, it was your neck, your ears blisters on your ears. Did I panic? Yeah, I panicked. Yeah, when you're on fire, you panic. But I, I do know now, now, of course, that, uh, school has been rebuilt and it's sprinkled. I'm trying to teach our firefighters.

Is there a difference with different occupancy? You're damn right. There is you get a list, dollar stores and discount auto parts. We got one on every corner. They're under 25,000 square feet. Why under the threshold where they would require sprinklers. Now you get a fire and there's very few external openings.

You get a fire in one of those places in the middle of the night, you got a sleeping dragon in there, man, closed up commercial structure like that. Fire's gonna get a lot worse before it gets better. Now let's say that you're in a authority having jurisdiction that requires sprinklers. There is absolutely no question about what we're gonna.

We are gonna connect up to a good source of water, run two, three inch lines into the fire department connection and pump that if it's a new building to 150 PSI, we, the fire, the sprinklers are already on the scene, but a lot of again, uh, people think, well, you know, it's a sprinkler building. Lot of people don't realize how limited sprinklers can be because of the, uh, uh, the commodity that they're trying to protect, uh, because of the water pressure also, uh, you know, Gus that there's a, the sprinkler system is predicated on, uh, what four, five heads operating max.

Well, what happens when you get that aerosol can, and it shoots across the store and now you've got two fires or you got a farmable liquid spill and you got 10, 12 heads go off and the building doesn't have a fire pump. Well, you better be the fire pump. You better get there with your 1500 gallon, a minute fire apparatus connect up to the pirate connection.

And you're the building's fire pump and they make sure all the valves are open. That's really interesting to hear you talking about, uh, cooking up to the fire department connection. I always wonder what kind of, what's the approach when you get to a building that's sprinkler and you know, when is it.

Advantageous to hook up to the automatic sprinkler system. Do you always hook up to the automatic sprinkler system or there's sometimes where you wanna manually fight the fire instead, or? Yeah, that's really interesting. Very few cases. I was very privileged to, uh, attend in, uh, 2017 or 18, a industrial firefighting school conducted by a, a factory mutual in Rome, Georgia.

And it it's to educate firefighters, limitations of sprinkler systems and how we can most effectively utilize them. And one thing that was really resonated with me is they got a couple bales of hay burning. Yeah. Gray smoke and, uh, smoke, maybe three feet from the ceiling. And when that sprinkler goes off, man, it's lights out.

It's lights out that smokes all the way to the floor because of the, uh, the draft it creates and also cooling the smoke rapidly, cooling the smoke. But we, we learn that almost always. I can't take of too many exceptions where if the building is sprinkler, let's get some lines into that, uh, uh, fire department connection and, uh, uh, make sure those valves are open.

Uh, it's very common for us to arrive and, uh, somebody's already shut the sprinklers off. In other words, we'll, we'll go up to an enunciator panel and, uh, there's a, uh, we responded on a water flow alarm, but yet when I look at the display on the annunciator panel, it says supervisory, Tam. Sprinklers 14th floor.

What happened? Well, there was a fire if I there's a red light illuminated, but the display says supervisory. Well, if we take a look at this, scroll back in the panel, we find out that there was a fire on the 14th floor and what happened? The maintenance man ran up there and shut the sprinklers off, therefore initiating a supervisory alarm.

Wow. That's interesting. Yeah. I could see that people are quick to, to shut that off. Maybe even. Yeah, but that's, that's very interesting. I like hearing about that. We gotta be very careful when we shut sprinklers off. And at, at, at, at the very least we have to keep a firefighter with a radio at those valves.

I remember overhauling a, uh, a warehouse one time where, uh, we upset a partially, uh, melted container. Um, I can't remember what it was some type of flammable liquid, and I think it was a printing firm. So it had to be something where they cleaned the printing presses. And this thing flared up on us and caught us with our pants down.

And we, we had a huge flare up of fire. It was a flammable liquid spill, uh, that we cause. We have to turn those sprinklers back on. Yeah. That's, that's very interesting stuff. I like hearing about that. I wanted to ask you about, you know, you've talked to me a couple times, a couple, couple questions. You talked to me a couple times about, you know, your mission and kind of bridging the gap, um, between fire prevention professionals and you know, the fire service.

So, you know, I'd like to hear more about that. And also, well, I'll start with that first one. There is a huge disconnect, as I mentioned, between people in your business, fire prevention, people, you being a fire protection engineer, fire prevention, people and fire suppression people. As I said, fire suppression people naturally don't, they're not interested in codes and dry subjects like that.

Suppression detection systems, uh, I've had. Well respected captains. Come up to me and say, Hey bill, that's all interesting and good, but why do I need to know that? Why do you need to, it's your frigging job to know that you better know it, you better know systems, you better know codes and you better know building construction.

And, uh, personally, I don't find that dry. I find it, uh, fascinating, but there is a huge disconnect, a huge disconnect. Now I can think of some terrible fires that have occurred in our history. Maybe even recently that are at least partially attributed to that disconnect and lack of communication between fire prevention, people and fire suppression people.

And, uh, and it goes both ways. If I am a, a, uh, an, a fire officer on an engine company, And I respond to a, uh, an illegal assembly occupancy. Uh, we've had this in the Miami area where, because of Instagram, you'll have a young people, um, go into their father's warehouse or cabinet shop or whatever, with a couple kegs of beer and 400 of their closest friends and be jam packed in there.

And, uh, if we should arrive on a medical call and we see that as a fire officer, we have a duty to act. We have a duty to act. We have gotta put an end to it. We have gotta contact somebody on my department. It is the on duty investigator fire investigator because he's a state certified fire inspector, but we have a duty to act.

So don't think that fire prevention and code enforcement is not your job. It is your job. If you ride that fire apparatus, that's good stuff. I, it it's important. You know that, uh, everybody be more knowledgeable. I always, you know, I'm kind of blown away by not just, you know, I'm speaking about mostly, you know, fire protection designers, fire protection engineers, you know, everybody needs to, you know, we're dealing with life safety here.

So I always try to encourage people to be continuously learning and continuously moving forward. So well, Gus, you know, I, I might make some firefighters angry, but I'm going to, uh, tell the dirty little secret firefighters have snuckered hoodwinked the public into thinking that we can climb 50, 60 stories upstairs and then put a hose line into operation in a timely fashion.

In a good and in shape, the fight of fire it's not happening. And a high rise building, a conservative estimate is one minute per floor fire on the 55th floor. You're only as strongly as your weakest person. If we don't, if we don't, if we have to use, we can't take the elevators. We are in deep, deep trouble on my department.

I'm responsible for writing the, uh, rewriting our high rise Highrise SOP. There are two things. Well, let me, let me name a few, uh, where you immediately transmit a sec or a second alarm or an extra alarm. As soon as you get on the scene. One is you gotta fire on the 23rd floor and there's smoke in the stairway on the first floor.

Well, how the hell did it get there? Well, that's reverse stack effect. You know, you're in Oklahoma city, you know how hot it gets in the summertime. So the air, if there's an opening up high. The air is gonna cool off because of the air conditioner and it's gonna, it's gonna sink. So, you know, you're having a bad day when you got smoke on the first floor for a fire on the 23rd.

So that's one thing immediately transmit a second alarm. Uh, next is if there's any fire showing upon arrival, uh, immediately transmit a second alarm. And the third is, um, you can't use the elevators now, Gus, it's been a long time, but, uh, we're starting to see now and it's not gonna happen retroactively.

We have to realize that elevators are in a necessity in a, in a high rise building, not only for us to reach, uh, to the fire area, we take it like two to three floors below the fire for free evacuation. I've got buildings that hardly anybody in the building is not using a wheelchair or a Walker. Oh, fire alarm goes off and there's a pre-recorded, uh, announcement to evacuate the building.

Is that what we really want them to do? No, that's not what we want them to do. We want them to stay in the refuge of a relatively tenable compartment, compartment, condominium, hotel room, uh, apartment, stay there, and we will protect in place. And these buildings we have to take you. You are, one of your questions was about occupancy in a single family house.

We can take people away from the harm. We can cut the burglar buyers off the windows, take out the windows and we can go in and we can grab these people. We can St the interior right behind a hose line in a large building full of old people. We have to protect life strategically. That's our first strategic priority by taking the harm away from the people.

That means we have to get water on that fire. So tactically, we're gonna put water on the fire strategically. It's to protect life. It's that important. And I tell our recruits that when you are operating off of a stand pipe in an occupied multiple dwelling, that, that you are conducting a, a lifesaving operation, as much as you are dragon granny down a smokey hallway, it's that important that you get it right.

Wow. That's really interesting. You speaking about, uh, high rise, Highrise operations for the fire service? Yeah, I think I was watching a, a hump day hangout with you, uh, talking about how you were riding the, uh, operations and procedures for your department, some of the different departments criteria you were looking at and just how you were going through that process.

And that sounds really interesting. Yeah. And it's, it's Gus in order to control a fire and a high rise building, you have to control its systems, sprinkler stand pipe, fire pumps, HVAC. Which, uh, one of the components may be a smoke management or control system, your stairwells, your elevators, uh, stand pipe and sprinkler systems, fire pumps, and your occupants.

You have to control your occupants. Now, there are some departments in this country that do it right. Uh, Chicago, uh, does an excellent job. I, I had, uh, on the hump day, a few, uh, months ago, I had a, a, a friend of mine that I've been, um, uh, corresponding with on the Chicago fire department. And, uh, they are there as you, as you know, it's required to have a voice control or command system.

It's a PA system, but it's connected to the fire alarm system, uh, to advise people and what we want people to do for the most part in a residential building is stay in place. We want them to stay in place, which is, I know it goes against the grain of everything that people have ever been taught. And it's not natural.

It's natural for you to want to get out of a building when somebody tells you there's a fire, but every time we have a fire in a high rise building, we will find people overcome with smoke in the elevator lobby. They left their completely smoke clear compartment. On their Walker or in wheelchairs. And now they're in the smokey elevator lobby, desperately pressing buttons for an elevator that is not coming.

Why? Because it's been recalled on phase one firefighter service that's yeah, I think it's really interesting point. You talking about the elevators and you know how we need to circle the wagons on that a little bit and figure out how to make them more of a, uh, life safety function and keep them active during fires, because you know, my mindset is somebody who's then fire prevention is, you know, immediately shunt trip.

The. The elevators, you know, in case there's sprinkler activation and you know, there's possibly water could get in the elevator and, you know, ruin the elevator or that's my mindset. Oh gosh, Gus boy, you, you, you, oh man, you just, uh, you just opened up a Hornets nest there. My brother, the controversy of sprinklers in your machine room and hoist way is a, it's huge.

It's huge. I don't like them. The elevator industry doesn't like them. We don't want 'em there. So we get in an elevator and that illuminated helmet icon starts to flash that indicates that a smoke detector in the, uh, machine room where the hoist way has been activated. And then there's also a heat detector, which is near.

Sprinkler, but it'll go off faster than the sprinkler. And just as you mentioned, a shun trip, if that is initiated, you're dead in the water, bro. You're sunk. You are sunk. So there are elevators Gus that are, um, I cannot remember fire service access. I believe they're called you very see very few of them.

It's in our building code now, but it's not retroactive where you will actually have, uh, an enclosed lobby with smoke barrier doors. You will have some type of Dyke or drain. So that water from sprinklers cannot get in the hoist way. And there are no sprinklers in the, the hoist way or the machine room, but, you know, it's, it's, it's, we have to realize that elevators are in necessity and, and if we're in we're in deep trouble, everybody's in deep trouble.

Occupants and firefighters, if we can't take the elevators. Yeah, definitely. You know what, it's something that, you know, an occupant evacuation elevator or, you know, a more stringent fire service elevator is something that a building owner from a cost perspective is gonna wanna avoid at all, you know, stances.

But it's something that sounds like is absolutely critical for the fire service and, you know, keeping these elevators, you know, active and working is a huge factors. Yeah. And here here's another problem GU and uh, I feel so far, sorry for those firefighters in London, they. Followed their procedure at the Grandville towers, fire, where you had aluminum composite panel clatting, which is basically polyethylene plastic sandwich between two thin sheets of aluminum.

What makes it really bad is that for moisture accumulation, there is a gap. There's an airspace between the clatting and the, uh, span beams and columns of the building. So you have a flu, so it can burn on both sides and they, uh, initiated a protect and play strategy because that's what they did well, in that case, when the fire is scaling the outside of the building, there is no compartmentation.

So it turned out and in retrospect, in some, in some people's opinion, that that was the wrong thing to do. And of course they were full civilly and I believe criminally, uh, Uh, but we just had a fire like that. And, uh, I believe it was the United era of Emirates, uh, about a two weeks ago. And, uh, that's a whole different story when you have the fire burning on the outside on that cladding.

So, and that's one case where you may have to evacuate the whole building, but it's gotta, as I said, you have to control your occupants. You're gonna have to have some type of control evacuation. It's been really interesting in all the, the trade magazines that I read, you know, talk about exterior cladding and how that's such a, uh, critical thing in the industry now and research, and co-development on limiting these materials for exterior cladding because of how impactful they can be.

To this fire spread on the exterior of the building in gr fell towers is just, it's been such a huge push for the industry to try to get this figured out. So it's, it's interesting to hear you talk about that and yeah, it's, it's, it's everywhere. People are talking about it and rightfully so. I have a good friend of mine that is a, uh, a captain on the Clark county fire department in Las Vegas, Nevada.

He, uh, spent most of his career on the Las Vegas strip. They have a problem with those buildings out there. Is that the decorative, uh, I like to call it gingerbread. On the outside of the building uh, around windows and, uh, or like a, you know what I'm talking it's it's, it's like a facade. Yeah. That stuff is basically styrofoam covered with a very thin sheet of, um, some type of a plastic, uh, substrate.

And then, uh, plaster, uh, basically what you got is you, the exteriors are, uh, combustible. Uh, you saw it at the, um, I'm thinking it was the Mon Carlo a few years ago. It's where you have a, you have a, a facade fire. It's not a structure fire. It's just the, uh, ornamentation burning on the outside of the building.

But Vincent Dunn, who I'm a huge, uh, student of, he says, uh, well, no, there's actually seven sides to a fire. Okay. He says that, uh, yeah, there's four sides and there's a top and a bottom. But when you have a building within a combustible exterior, There's a seventh side and that is the exterior. That's a side that we have to consider.

Wow. I like that, that, that puts, that puts a nice visual to it. That's that's good stuff. So I wanted to ask you about, yeah. One of the things that I wanted to talk about is, you know, you've, you're an advocate for education and educating people in fire prevention and in the fire service. But one of the things I wanted to ask you is what kind of, um, resources.

Would you suggest for, um, somebody who wants to know more about fire suppression or fire alarm? I know that you've been involved in some training videos. That's kind of where I found you. And I was learning a bunch from watching your training videos and your knowledge of fire suppression systems and stand pipe systems and valving, and just, uh, all that's involved was very impressive.

But yeah, I'd like to get your input. Oh, there's, there's great. Well, you, of course the internet, there's an abundance on the internet. I learn a lot just, I, I am not an employee of sprinkler Matic. Uh, however I teach at their facility, sprinkler medic is a, um, a fire suppression contractor, uh, based out of, uh, the Ford Lauderdale area.

Uh, that is probably the biggest suppression contractor in the, um, in the state sta sprinkler and stamp pipe systems and their. President Robin Collier has built the most amazing wet laboratory of just about every suppression riser imaginable at his sprinkler, Matt university. He calls it in, uh, Davey, Florida.

He also has one in Tampa, the Tampa area. So, uh, they have an abundance of YouTube videos on sprinkler system design, sprinkler system, operation design of what we call a manual. What standpipe system. Where there's water in the system, uh, and it supplies the sprinklers, but not sufficient to supply a hose line.

So in that case, a, uh, a fire department connection pumping that has is, is a, is a necessity, not just a precaution. Uh, there are tremendous amount of books on, uh, alarm systems and, uh, suppression systems available. Uh, and of course there are courses, a lot of 'em are sanctioned by your state. Your state should be, I know in the state of Florida, it is, they have state, uh, recommended and, uh, you can take at their facility or if a, uh, a local jurisdiction meets the criteria for the course, uh, you can take it elsewhere, but, uh, you have to follow their curriculum on alarm.

Suppression systems, uh, on, on building, uh, construction. So there is an abundance. Oh, and I'll tell you this. I tell firefighters all the time. You have no excuse, not to know suppression systems living in south Florida. Why? Because almost all of the components are naked. They're outside the building. We don't have any freezing weather.

So we're looking at a detector check or double check the detector, check backflow, preventer. We're looking at it. It's right there in the front yard, but there's, there's an abundance of resource. Also your community colleges have, that's where I, I took classes on systems. Systems one and systems two building construction one and building construction two in the commu in the community college.

I got another example, Duchess community college in Poughkeepsie, New York. Uh, I have a good friend of mine that was just retired. He was the program chair. The work that those students do with controlled burns and test burns and the classes that you can take there, uh, there is no shortage of books. Media on the internet, uh, for you to learn, uh, the suppression detection and alarm systems and building construction for the fire service.

Those are all great resources. I like hearing about that. I always try to plug for people's benefit. You know, when I'm talking to individuals who I know are knowledgeable and have a good, um, finger on the pulse of the industry, always try to get recommendations on resources and, you know, just kind of get a feel for where you think important information is coming from.

I know you, I got a copy right here, international fire protection, you know, I sent it to you free. No, is it mostly advertisements? Yes. But what are they advertising extended coverage sprinklers. Well, what is that? Well, it explains right in the advertisement, you, you know, just, you know, sometimes firefighters have the attention span of a Nat, just pick up a magazine, you know, and, and.

There's so many things that just take a few minutes to read, uh, you know, a little bit, you know, sometimes when you get in depth with the suppression systems and that it's, uh, it's like the Basco sauce a little bit goes a long way. So you take it in small digestible amounts, but a little bit every day you should be studying something about something other than actually putting the wet stuff on the red stuff with a hose line as part of your, uh, as part of your, your job.

It is your job. Gus. I, I bring up this question, uh, when, uh, to our officers, when I, when I teach our officer development program, which is newly promoted officers, and I say, is it fair for us to judge the nine brave firefighters that were killed at the sofa Superstore in Charleston, South Carolina? Is it fair?

We weren't there. We weren't there we're in an air conditioned classroom. Is it fair? And the answer to that is not only is it our, is it fair? It is our obligation and duty as a father, as a husband, as a fire officer, as a person, that's gonna be leading firefighters into battle. It's not only fair. It is your responsibility to learn from fires.

That thank God you were lucky enough not to go to don't you think? Gus, we're those poor guys in Los Angeles, those poor guys. Do we know what happened? No, not exactly. Are we gonna find out what happened? Yes. And those poor guys that are burnt in the hospital on ventilators right now. Well, if we just didn't pay attention to that and learn from what they learn about it, we'll listen to them then.

They're there in vain. Let's find out what the heck happened. Every fire officer that I know that's dedicated to this job, first of all, is broken hearted to see how terribly injured these firefighters are in that horrific fire. We need to more find out more about it. I, I could tell you right now, Gus, if there's a fire and a head shop, or one of these kind of stores that caters to, uh, hash oil, mm-hmm, you be anywhere in this country today?

You better believe that that department is gonna be handling it a lot more cautiously since that horrible tragedy that happened over the weekend in Los Angeles. Now were any of mistakes made in Los Angeles? I don't. You know, they, they were caught off guard with, it would, the same thing have happened to Miami dad, fire rescue department.

You're damn straight. We would've done the same thing. We would've done the same thing. So it's yes. And, and we're gonna, but we have to learn from these things and it's, it's, it's unfortunate, but you know, it's, it's a, uh, you're a student of the fire service look at the industrial fire safety because of the triangle shirt waste fire, where a bunch of immigrant girls were killed in the early 19 hundreds.

We changed the fire codes in, in factories. It's it's it's tragedies like that. I love when you talk about the historic fires, because, you know, it's so important. It was part of my curriculum in my degree at Oklahoma state university, um, you know, talking about the triangle shirt, waste fire, talking about coconut Grove, talking about the, you know, station night club fire.

Um, you know, I think, uh, this, this, uh, LA fire is even more front of mind for me because of, you know, the state of Oklahoma. And recently we've had legislation pass and all of these type of shops, uh, similar to the fire and LA pop up. And, you know, the, the building code has not caught up yet, you know, the, the wheels and the gears of the building code turn slow.

And so, you know, when you have, uh, dozens of these kind of shops, uh, pop. And, you know, they're putting them in places and in occupancies that were traditionally business and, you know, they're having distillation processes and they have a substrate for the distillation process that can sometimes be hazardous.

I mean, that, it's, it's very concerning. So I think that it, it is even more hits at home for me because, uh, you know, it's, it's down the street for me that these kind of hazards are, you know, being added to my community. So, yeah. And in single family homes, in somebody in somebody's garage can have the same kind of operation, you know, you don't know.

I mean, it's all bets are off when you're going into a single family home. Yeah. Because there's, there's no fire prevention bureau in there, no inspections. Uh, you can do man's home as his castle. He can do whatever he wants. Unfortunately, uh, firefighters get hurt and killed. And you mentioned Oklahoma state university.

Uh, one of my heroes, one of my heroes is John Norman. John Norman is a retired, uh, I believe he retired as a deputy from the, uh, F D N Y. Uh, he writes the, uh, fire officer's handbook of tactics. This man, one of the reasons that he is so good at what he does, why he is such a widely respected, uh, almost worshiped, uh, educator in the fire service is because he had a good solid background in fire protection from Oklahoma state university.

So before he was a firefighter, he was a sprinkler designer and he mentioned several times. In his, uh, in his textbook, but there is a guy that has a, had a well, well rounded background in, um, uh, fire, fire protection systems. And believe me, it's one of the reasons why he is one of the superstars of the fire service.

That's great. I, I haven't heard about John Norman. John Norman is a, uh, there's a couple of people like that. Vincent Dunn, who actually was at the 23rd street collapse. I think he was on an inspection at the time. So he didn't, he wasn't killed. Obviously he's retired now, John Norman, who ended up one of the last things he did in his career before he left, he was in charge of the, uh, uh, recovery operations, uh, at nine 11 at the ground zero.

But the man as a true humble gentleman, But my point is this Gus is he knows systems. He has a firm background in systems. You cannot be an effective fire officer without a solid, solid background in fire detection, suppression systems and building construction and codes. It's part of your job. It's not as exciting as extending a hose line under a, a layer of smoke, but it is absolutely essential in order for you to be a well rounded, effective, and safer fire officer, without a doubt.

So we need to connect this disconnect. Gus, we need to connect this disconnect between your folks and my folks and the fire prevention folks. And we all need to be on the same page and you know who I blame mostly my folks, our folks, lack of interest. So you don't think it's important. When it's critically important.

Well, I think there's blame to go around for everyone. You know, I mean, people in my industry are, can be oftentimes just trying to get the job done as well. And, you know, they might not always be in the mindset of providing a, you know, fire protection and life safety design that is, you know, uh, can be held up by firefighters in the fire service.

You know, I've talked to people in the past, uh, Dave Stacy, uh, he was telling me about the different ways. He's a fire protection engineer and a, um, somebody who works in the fire service. And he was telling me about all the, the ways that he designs his buildings differently, because he knows about the operations of the fire service.

You know, industry and, you know, so I think that it's important for both sides to try to be knowledgeable about how the other one works and, you know, it's, it's not just the fire services fault. It's, you know, I I'd say that it's is just as important for somebody who designs fire protection systems too, have an understanding of, you know, uh, how the fire service works and how to make a design functional for somebody in the fire service.

So I think that there's some buy-in on both sides here, but I like that sentiment a lot. Right. Let me give you an example of the disconnect. The fire suppression industry, the NFPA committees, uh, NFPA 14 for stand pipes and fire suppression people. Traditionally prior to 1993 standpipe systems, as you know, each outlet would have to flow 250 gallons a minute at 65 PSI.

Now the only way you're gonna have a good stream at 65 PSI residual pressure is with two and a half inch diameter hose line with a E inch and an eighth or an inch and a quarter tip. Okay. But what was happening? Fire departments all over the country, including mine. We're using the same diameter hose that they would take into a single family house that would be inch and a half or inch and three quarter.

And connecting it up to a stamp pipe that was designed predicated on two and a half inch hose. Well, the systems were designed for two and a half inch hose, but the fire departments were using inch and a half or inch and three quarter. Well, now that was one of the reasons why firefighters were killed at the one Meridian Plaza fire.

And I like to quote Matt Stuckey from a retired chief from Houston. Nobody had a clue about pressure, reducing standpipe outlet valves. Nobody had a clue. No one it's just that Philadelphia's luck ran out before anybody else's did nobody had a clue? Why? Because we weren't talking, we weren't talking the NFPA committees didn't realize that fire departments were using undersized hose that was not designed for a 65 PSI residual pressure on the standpipe outlet.

Well, What has happened since then? Well, now we, we we've upped the pressure. It's, it's, it's, it's a hundred, but still you, uh, you know, you have buildings. And then if you take a look at the intricacy of a pressure, reducing stamp pipe outlet, or a, a, a zone zone, isolation, valve floor, isolation, valve, or sprinklers, remember these are to keep the pressure from exceeding 175 PSI for stand pipe and 1 65 for sprinklers, the intricacies, the, they have a mind of their own.

There, there there's a, uh, they, the plunger and piston assembly that floats inside of that chamber is not connected to the valve stem. When you open up the hand wheel, That thing is gonna do what it wants to do in response to, uh, uh, fluctuations and pressure downstream. I U like to use the analogy, Gus that every day we, uh, we exercise every valve, every drain on our fire apparatus, our fire apparatus pump.

Okay. Now what about that? Uh, that pressure reducing valve it's a, the internal components are immersed in water. If it hasn't been tested in accordance with N FPA 25, which is the standard for testing and maintaining water based fire suppression systems, then I can, I can tell you, I posed, I post a question to, uh, discern a design engineer at Zern, large manufacturer pressure, reducing valves.

I said, I'm gonna, I don't mean to offend you. I said, but, uh, let me, let me give you a hypothetical, uh, I'm killed in a wind driven high rise fire, and my wife sues. Zearn for, um, a defective pressure, reducing stamp pipe outlet valve. What would be your recourse? He says, oh, very simple. Show me the documents.

Show me when this system was last tested in accordance with N FPA 25. That means for pressure, reducing valves, a cap test, uh, a cap, a valve cap test with a, with a gauge on it once a year and a full flow test at 250 gallons a minute at 100 PSI every five years. Is it being done well, if it's not being done in your jurisdiction, then would you rely on that pressure?

Reducing valve, you are taking a leap of faith and, and, and to all our firefighters out there, if you are not testing. Your standpipe systems in accordance with NFPA 25, do yourself a favor, do not go and stretch dry to the fire floor because the door to the fire compartment is closed. No charge the line on the floor below so that the guy on the valve and the guy looking at the inline gauge and the guy flowing the nozzle in the stairway are in agreement.

If we have a pressure problem because of lack of maintenance on the, uh, pressure, reducing valves or some other problem, let's identify it and fix it before we go to battle you go upstairs. Sure. It takes less firefighters, but then try to communicate back on a radio or with runners, uh, gimme 20 more pounds.

It's not gonna happen, brothers. It's not gonna happen. So I, I can't stress the importance. I mean, you wouldn't, it would be crazy for you not to exercise and check your apparatus on a periodic basis. Well, if you're not checking these systems in these buildings, you know, you're putting your life literally putting your life on the line and depending upon these things.

Yeah. And I, I look at firefighters and FPA 25. What is that? They don't know. They don't have a clue, pressure, reducing valve what's that? I don't know. They don't know. Well, we gotta make it our business to know now, how did I learn? I didn't learn from the ranks of fire prevention or fire fighting people. I learned from reaching out to, uh, people in our fire prevention bureau and folks like sprinkler medic.

I have a. That, uh, is a sprinkler and stamp pipe system, uh, plans, review Desi design reviewer, uh, and our fire prevention bureau that hung sprinkler piping is a superintendent for 33 years. I don't think there's a week that goes by that. I don't pick up the phone and ask him a question I learned from those guys.

Can I tell you a quick story? Go for it? I'm all ears. All right. My first, my first introduction to a pressure reducing valve, we got a building under construction about a 12 story building. So it's not that high. And, uh, come in on a, a Saturday and there's a suppression contractor around putting the finishing touches on the, uh, suppression system.

And I said, Hey, Hey, before you hang the drywall, can we, uh, connect some hose lines to a, an outlet? And we're gonna, uh, we're gonna pump the, uh, uh, the fire department connection. We're gonna flow some water out the window. Yeah, sure. He says, and I don't know what possessed me, but maybe cuz I. I have the gift of gab, which means I talk too much.

I said, yeah, just so you know what we're gonna do, sir, we're gonna take, uh, two, three inch lines and we're gonna, uh, connect to the fire department connection and we're gonna charge it our standard starting pressure for stand pipe systems at 150 PSI. Uh, he says, uh, wait a minute. That's not gonna be enough.

What do you mean? It's not gonna be enough. It's a 12 story building 150 PSI will be fine. He comes back and he says, Nope, you're gonna have to pump it. Hadn't been posted yet buildings under construction. You're gonna have to post. 205 PSI. Oh yeah. Okay. All right. All right. Well, we pumped one 50 and guess what?

Egg on my face, it looked like a damn garden hose. Why? Because every valve in that building was set at the factory, these factory set valves for what, there were two stand pipes, two stairwells in this building. So you would have to everything, the fire pump, the PRVs, everything is set for the pressure necessary to get 750 gallons a minute at the roof at a hundred PSI.

And if you're pumping the fire department connection to duplicate the action of the fire pump or fire pumps, if you're not pumping that pressure, you will have inadequate flow on your stamp pipe outlets. It's that important? I like that. That's good. Uh, practicals, you know, at pressure, reducing valves can be tricky and there, you know, those complications that you were.

Talking about, um, extend for everybody in. Yeah. Yeah. You wanna, you wanna learn, you wanna learn something you wanna learn from your mistakes, make an ass outta yourself in public, and then find out that you better believe I delved into this. I picked this guy's brain. I now on my desk, I got cutaways of every major pressure reducing valve available in the country.

That's great stuff. Well, bill, I want to thank you so much for coming on. I didn't get to all my questions for you and maybe, um, I can have you back on here. Uh, and yeah, GU sure. But I really appreciate you and, and yeah. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Well, GU you know, you're, you're in a different, uh, line of fire protection, but we are brother firefighters because you're a firefighter as well.

You are a fire. You may never wear a breathing apparatus or go into smoke with a hose line, but what you are doing by designing systems and making sure they're installed properly tested properly is every bit as important to firefighting and fire protection and protection of buildings and civilians as what I used to do, uh, when I was an active firefighter.

So I really appreciated Gus and I'm, I'm happy to participate. Well, thank you. That's that's awesome. I appreciate that too. Thanks for listening everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business. The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes and standards interpretation.

Be sure to contact a licensed professional. If you are getting involved with fire protection and or life safety. Thanks again. And we'll see you next time.