Mar 14, 2022
On this weeks episode of Fire Code Tech we are speaking with Roddy Macdonald. We speak about his time in the fire service and his various entrepreneurial pursuits. In addition the podcast covers fire safety plans and the code structure in Canada.
Hello, all welcome to the show. I'm Gus Gagliardi, and this is fire code tech on fire code tech. We interview fire protection professionals from all different careers and backgrounds in order to provide insight and a resource for those in the field. My goal is to help you become a more informed fire protection.
Professional fire code tech has interviews with engineers and researchers, fire marshals, and insurance professionals, and highlights topics like codes and standards, engineering systems, professional development, and trending topics in the industry. So if you're someone who wants to know more about fire protection or the fascinating stories of those who are in the field, you're in the right place.
Roddy, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for coming on fire code. Thanks GU I really appreciate you, uh, inviting me on, uh, it's it's a pleasure. Awesome. Well, I always like to give listeners a sense of, you know, your background and kind of how you discovered fire and life safety. Would you mind giving me a little bit of, um, discussion on that?
Uh, yeah, absolutely. This actually might be the. The longest part of the podcast was the history of how, how people get to where they, where they land today. Right. So, sure. Um, just to give a little, uh, I guess a quick background to, to some of the listeners I'm, I'm up in, uh, I'm up in Canada, uh, a couple hours outside of, uh, uh, kind of sandwiched in between Toronto and Detroit, uh, on the great lakes.
And, and, uh, so when I started my, my career in fire fighting. Uh, before that I was, uh, I was a licensed plumber, you know, went from high school. Didn't really wanna do the college route thing. And I, I immediately got a trade, uh, as a plumber. And I, and I did that for a lot of years and kind of back when I did it, um, we ran our own sprinkler piping and we, we ran a lot of stamp pipe and, and, uh, worked under kind of like a, a shop ticket.
Like the, the, the, uh, the company would have one. Um, you know, ticket to do any of those kinds of installations and you really didn't need to go to, you know, sprinkler school or anything to, to do the stuff that we were doing at the time you just learned on, on the fly. But I, I got a good sense of, you know, what the systems were about.
And I, although I enjoyed the plumbing. uh, the, the fire systems, the sprinkler systems were, were really, you know, they seemed more grand than, than what I was doing. I mean, you know, you look at the other trades on big job sites and, and you, you wonder what they're doing. And the, and the sprinkler stuff was really, it was really cool stuff.
Um, but you didn't really need to have a whole lot of training back then, uh, at least for the, the, uh, the installations that we were doing. And then as the years got on before I got out of plumbing, Um, it, it got more prominent where, uh, you, I did on bigger jobs with large sprinkler, um, uh, outfits that were doing the installations.
And they were like, to me, they were kinda like. God, they rolled in with all their, all their, uh, equipment, all their, all their, uh, manpower. And, and they were, they were, you know, installing systems that I had never really even seen before. And they were, you know, uh, large scale hospitals, uh, factories, uh, schools, stuff like that.
I did a lot of, uh, industrial plumbing. Um, and it just, it, you. Fir first, uh, firsthand look at, uh, some of the LIC things that they were putting in. I used to do the threaded, uh, large threaded stuff, uh, um, you know, working on big eight, 10 inch sprinkler mains that were all threaded. It wasn't fun. I can tell you that , uh, you know, working with big, uh, six foot pipe wrenches and, and it was, it was difficult stuff back then when I first started out.
And then, you know, as the years go on, you see some of these sprinkler companies come in. With LIC, uh, fittings, you LIC fittings, whatever. Like it just, it looked way more, well, it looked way, way easier. That's for sure. But, uh, um, the style and the, the, uh, um, the design that they were doing, I, I hadn't seen it before.
Uh, so it, it really, it really intrigued me and that was my first kind of taste. Um, fire systems in, in that regard, uh, you know, I, I would see the, the electricians and the fire alarm installers doing their thing, that, that, that wasn't really up my alley. Didn't really pay a whole lot attention to it. Cuz I, I was more of a, um, working with pipe and the sprinkler stuff really, really, uh, you know, took on my fancy if you wanted to say in that regard.
But so from, from there, uh, as I went on the years, uh, on the tools as a plumber, it was difficult on the body. Um, I, I thought I needed a change because, uh, in that kind of trade role, you know, as you get older, there's only so many jobs you can get in an office setting as an estimator, whatever, like there's only so many jobs to be had or, or you're on the tools for a lot longer and it's, and it's tougher on your body.
So I thought. Um, I, this is gonna sound cliche in Canada, but I played hockey with a, with a lot of guys that were already firefighters, uh, in, in my, kind of my hometown. Some jobs were coming up and, and they had, you know, they had said, you know, with your background, uh, as a tradesperson, you should, you should apply for it.
Um, and, and I did, I, I started to apply around, uh, some of the, the larger centers around myself, uh, in the small town of Stratford where I grew up, uh, you know, Toronto was hiring. Um, some larger centers like that, but I had no idea, uh, yeah, I would get a, an application for, and this is, this would be up your alley.
I'd get an application for, you know, show me your history. Do you know anything about hydraulics or whatever? I, I didn't know what hydraulics were. I didn't know any of it really. Um, so, you know, as years go on, you learn about what hydraulics really are. Uh, so. I started to apply. I really got the fever for it.
Um, and then luckily I got on in, in my hometown. So I got on as a firefighter in my hometown. That's how I started, um, in, in the, in the fire world. If, if you wanna say, and I did that for eight years and there was a transition in my life where I needed to, to get off shift and, and do a day job. I, I needed a day shift, um, for my family.
So I switched to a fire prevention. and I'll, I'll be honest with you. I switched to a fire prevention role for all the wrong reasons. I, I needed a day shift, but it turned out as years. Go on. It's. It it's, it's a great career as a fire prevention officer, you know, once you really start to dive into the code, once you start to meet the fire prevention officers and, uh, and other station chiefs and people in and around your area, and they kind of guide you along and, and help you learn the code will be kind of the, the, the, the basic, the Bible of what you need to know to do your job well.
Um, it, it, it got really interesting and, and, and, you know, you in our, in our. Department, uh, you'd have to take, uh, the courses, the provincial courses through. We have, uh, an office of the fire marshal, much like, uh, the, the states, uh, do all the states, uh, down in United States and the, and the provinces up here in Canada.
Each, each province has its own, uh, fire marshals, um, training center, if you want to call it that. And, uh, so once I started to take the courses. , uh, it, it was, it was really cool stuff. It was, it was really cool stuff. I already had that kind of background of, of building knowledge and cons some construction knowledge.
And, and I, I had a good sense of when I, I married it up with the fire code. It, it, you know, I, I was making a lot of sense of. When I was back on those job sites, what the sprinkler, uh, installers were, were doing and why, what the fire alarm techs were doing and why, like, why were they were installing it certain ways, you know, why devices were so far apart, why all that kind of stuff started to kind of make sense.
And so it's, I, I kind of got moving towards, um, my career in that fire prevention world. Uh, and I've been doing that since two, th I was been a, uh, in the fire department since, uh, 2000. uh, left the suppression division for fire prevention in 2011. Uh, so it's, it's been, uh, it's been 11 years and then I'm actually making another transition.
Uh, right now I'm a chief fire prevention officer. Uh, that's what I've, I've worked up to, to become. Um, and in that kind of world, you need to be that Jack of all, all trades. Uh, but I'm certainly not a master of, of none. And, and. You know, so with that, when COVID happened, uh, just, just prior to, to when COVID happened, I was approving some fire safety plans in, in my, in my area.
Uh, a large Toronto firm was, was in, you know, my little town of Stratford, uh, doing some, some new construction and I approved some fire safety plans. And it turned out that, uh, this company had a, had an older gentleman that was kind of getting out of it. He was looking to get out and kind of passed the torch.
And we got along great, uh, through the approval process of these fire safety plans. And so through some conversation, he asked if I wanted to start doing some fire safety plans for, for them and, and, uh, Ty typically. And, and I don't know if some of your past guests have said this, but typically as a fire prevention, You make your way through your career.
I have about 10 more years left until I can retire. You make your way through your career. Um, and then you retire and then you kind of do this on the side. You do a couple of plans, you know, we call it, do a couple fire safety plans here and there for people. And it's just kind of keeps your, your, uh, mind sharp in the code and you know, a little bit extra cash and all that kind of stuff.
So I didn't expect to start doing fire safety plans, uh, as a little side business. When I was still in my forties, basically. So it, it, it worked out well. I got, I got some plans, um, started with them, uh, some, uh, some plans approved with them and, and I got a, kind of a taste for life in the private sector.
And, and, you know, as I moved through with this company that was outta Toronto, uh, it went from fire safety plans to, well, what El, you know, what other services can you offer? What we can do. You know, uh, maybe some alternative solutions or we can do some fire code consulting if there's some, you know, property managers or building owners or whatever that have had.
Uh, we call 'em inspection orders up here, or, or a notice of violation against the code. If they've had a notice of violation from other fire prevention officers in the, in the, uh, province, how do you, how do you mitigate those and how do you come into Compli compliance and help customers out that way? So I kind of got a, uh, a different feel for life on the other side of, of, uh, as a fire permission officer into that little public sector thing, um, or sorry, the private sector, uh, part.
so, so COVID hits, uh, and this company kind of slowed down a bit and we weren't, uh, busy at all. And I, I thought, you know, I'm gonna, I'm gonna try this on my own. I, I, I have, uh, I think some good, you know, customer skills. I like chatting with people. I have some, some good knowledge I could use. Uh, I have some connections with, with people through, you know, other fire safety.
Um, professionals that, uh, you know, I can, I can give this thing and go and, and try my own company. And I, and I did that. Um, my first company was on tariff fire safety plans and, and it, and it went well. And as I kind of moved along, it was just the fire safety plan stuff that I was doing, uh, for, for buildings and it, and it worked out well.
And it was really, uh, it was really neat to try to. I mean, it was a struggle at the time I look back, it was kind of neat to try to source out, uh, you know, drafting people to do drawings for these fire safety plans and, um, to, to gain more customers and do cold calls and emails and, and do that kind of, uh, boots to the ground.
Part of not just, you know, completing your job. Well, fire safety plans, a service that you offer, but also starting a business. And kind of learning marketing and doing your own accounting. And it was, it was a bit of a struggle, but like when I look back at it, I'm a lot better for it, for, for how I am today, uh, with, with a new company and I'll get into that.
But, um, it's just, you know, something was different every day and I, and I really enjoyed that. So, so I, I took my skills from being a plumber to a firefighter. To fire prevention. Uh, and, and now I'm moving back out of fire prevention. I've, I've, I'll be leaving that role at the end of March to go back into suppression as an officer and in our department, we work a, a 24 hour shift, uh, seven to 8, 24 hours shifts a month.
Um, so that gets me back into the trucks, but it also frees up some, some time with my days off in between shifts that I can really. Grow the company that we're working on. Uh, now, so, so with, with that, uh, transition from my first company, Ontario fire safety plans, um, and getting some connections, uh, there was a company iner that had the connections and had the, um, the business knowledge, but they might not have had the fire code background.
So at the end of the day, with, with this other company that I was subcontracting to. We decided to merge together. And in that we created, uh, a new company, a new brand called guardian fire consulting group. And honestly, this thing has, has blown up. Um, I, I can't believe, I can't believe the, the amount of customers, the amount of, um, you know, Information that we've been able to, to compile into, you know, new websites and, and reaching out to, to like fellows like yourself.
It it's been a great learning experience to work your way through the, the business world in that sense. And it's kind of culminated to this guardian fire consulting group. And, uh, and I mean, that's, that's where I'm at today. It's, it's been a, it's been a long enjoyable road. Um, Lots of mistakes on the way.
I mean, if you don't make any mistakes, that means you're not trying out there. Right. So lots of mistakes on the, on the way, but it's, it's been great. And that's why we're, we're here today with, uh, guardian fire consulting group. And, um, you know, I was like you had mentioned before when we were chatting before the, the, uh, podcast started, uh, your, your podcast, you know, are in the morning time when people are commuting to work.
And, and I drive an hour to the fire station, uh, for my fire prevention role. And that's how I got onto your, your podcast. And, uh, you know, it's just, it's, it's really enjoyable to, to, to gather that, you know, knowledge from other, other people and other, uh, sectors of the, the fire safety, uh, world, if you wanna, uh, call it that.
And, and that's, and that's why I reached out to you just because I, I I'd seen some people, there was a fellow by the name of Aaron Johnson that was on. uh, episode 41, I think it was. And I, I don't know, Aaron Johnson only through LinkedIn and, and , you know, this, the, the LinkedIn world is a great, a great way to, to network and, and, uh, you know, listen to other people's stories and, and maybe gather some more information on there.
But what I, when I started to, I reached out to Aaron and said, are you, you know, are you on Gus's podcast? He said, you know, it was a great experience. And I listened to it. It was, it was fantastic, but it. The the, what I, what I find with, with, um, trying to get better at the business part of it, or just trying, trying to be a better fire prevention officer or better code consultant is that when you, you think, you know what you read the code, you read the standards and, and you think you have a good handle on it.
But then when you, when you listen to somebody else, talk about it. It's, it's, it sounds a little bit different. You have a different spin on it. You look at things differently when people explain, explain it in different ways and you kind of wonder. you know, were, were you looking at the code reference the same way, or you kind of question yourself, but not, not in a bad way.
You just wanna make sure that you are, uh, you you're the best that you can be at the fire code consulting part of it or, or whatever your, your niche is. Um, so when I started listening to your podcast and listening to other individuals, explain their, you know, fire safety background or, or, you know, you know, whatever, it, it.
It made me wanna learn more. It made me wanna listen more to other people and grow that way. And, and that's, um, that's the reason why I reached out to you is cuz I, I hope that in this discussion with myself today, somebody else that might wanna start a business or somebody else that might wanna move from a suppression division into fire prevention or public educa, any of that kind of stuff, it, it might, uh, in my head, somebody, um, You know, get into that fire, fire prevention world and also make a difference.
So, uh, it kind of, it all, it all culminates into that. Um, and that's, so that's been my road to, to where we're sitting day. Um, and, and it's been enjoyable. Let me tell you. Yeah, man. That's a great, uh, love hearing about, you know, kind of the origin story of your career and couple of different roles you've held up till now.
And yeah. Just about your, your journey as an entrepreneur. Uh, I really, um, enjoy hearing about that. It's, it's something that, um, you know, why I got into doing these podcasts. People's stories, uh, like you're saying are inspiring to me and make me want to, to learn more and to, and to do better. So that's the whole reason why I got into this thing.
So I definitely understand what you're saying. Um, yeah, I wanted to clarify for some of the listeners, um, like what is a fire safety plan? Because this has a little bit different of a meaning in the us on what that is. Um, I don't, you know, we have 'em in specific buildings, but we might not have them in, um, every building, it seems like it's a more common feature in Canada.
It, it is. Yeah, we now, so on the Ontario fire code part, um, we reference for the most part, the national fire code, how close the national fire code is to the international code. I'm not a hundred percent sure. I know there's a, there's a more similarities than not, but in Ontario, on the Ontario fire code side, uh, buildings that are assembly occupancies, Uh, need a fire safety plan.
So I'll just kind of rhyme off all the ones that would need a fire safety plan, maybe a couple examples. So, uh, assembly, occupancies, churches, you know, restaurants over over 30 people, um, uh, sitting schools, uh, care, occupancies, hospitals, uh, care and treatment occupancies. We, we have a lot of, um, vulnerable occupancies.
Uh, we call them here. So what had happened years ago? Uh, we had some nursing home fires and it was, it was, uh, and there was some deaths, um, fire related deaths in that, and, and it was found that, uh, we needed to sharpen up some of the, um, you know, some of the code references to, to assist with that, that part of the code, the, uh, the vulner bancy.
So, uh, a vulner see, as something like a, a hospital or, or, or a nursing home where if more than two people need assistance. Uh, and in case of a fire, uh, then that, that kind of kicks in that vulner bureaucracy or the, the VO that we call them. So that that's a care and treatment occupancy type, uh, which would need a fire safety plan, uh, detention occupancies, residential occupancies, with more than 10 people sleeping.
Um, so that'd be like, um, uh, we call 'em nine eights or nine fives, but, uh, some duplexes, some, some plexes multi-unit dwellings that, uh, have more than 10 people sleeping, uh, retirement homes. Uh, businesses and personal services with occupant loads that exceed 300. You're looking at the, the lows home Depot Walmarts.
They, they would need, uh, fire safety plans up here as well. Um, same with market tile. Occupa sees over 300, uh, occupa load. Uh, and then you get into some high, medium, and low how's your bus buildings, uh, high hazard, your buildings. Um, you know, maybe something that would, uh, have a lot of flammable combustible, uh, liquids in it.
If you have more than 25, um, occupant load in those buildings, you need a fire safety plan, uh, in a medium hazard, you need more than a hundred, uh, uh, occupant load for a fire safety plan. And in a low hazard, you need more than 300, so that we have a lot of, um, we have a lot of automotive manufacturing in our, in our area.
Um, we're kind of, we're close to. Uh, to Detroit with our, with our highway systems in Toronto. And, uh, um, the auto industry is, is kind of big in this area as well. So there's a lot of manufacturing where some of those buildings can get up, you know, into the thousands of, of employees. So those, those ones would also need fire safety plans.
So what a fire safety plan is kind of divided in half, um, part of it is for the fire crew showing up. So this fire safety plan that would be approved by the, the HJ. um, it would be posted by the fire alarm panel, uh, at the, at the principal entrance, uh, usually in a fire safety plan box. And when the fire crews show up, if there's an incident of fire emergency, uh, the incident commander can take that fire safety plan out and it would have all the.
Human hotted, uh, information, all the, uh, people that are in charge of that building phone numbers. Um, you know, if it was in the middle of the night and, and the building was unoccupied at the time, they know who to call to get people there, key holders, um, you know, it would have. Part of the, the drawings that would go along with this fire safety plan, it would have a site plan drawing that would show where the gas shutoff is, where the sprinkler shutoff is, where the fire alarm, uh, panel and control panel is.
Um, things like that, the main electrical panel, any hazards that might be in that, that building can be identified on those, on those drawings. And then depending on, you know, if you have a, you know, let's say a high rise building, uh, you're gonna have a site plan showing that building and all the shutoff.
You're gonna have any underground parking. Uh, you're gonna have all the floors that are, uh, you know, drawn out, um, going forward with the suites and the, the corridors and exits and poll stations and just showing all those kind of things that the instant commander and the crew would need to know, you know, where the fire hose cabinets are, all that kind of stuff.
So that that's one half of the fire safety plan. The other half is for the owner of that building or the supervisory staff. So who's in charge of that. to, to train off of what do you do in the case of emergency? Um, who's in charge, uh, you know, um, if it's a residential building, uh, let's say a condominium, uh, it's the supervisor, staff, or the owner's responsibility to, to make it aware to those residents, how to get out where your exits are, um, what to do in case of a fire.
Or who to call. So that's kind of the, the divide in the line of what a fire safety plan is. One of it's for the fire crew showing up, uh, to know what to do and what that building, um, has, has as far as hazards or, um, uh, as far as fire and life safety equipment. And, and then the other half is for the owner or the supervisory.
To know what to do in, in case of emergency emergency who's who's in charge and to have a plan, um, you know, it's I say this, I say this to a lot of people, like what's, what's kind of the, the frequent thing that you always say to people for, for fire safety and it's, and it's knowing your two ways out, uh, and that the fire safety plan kind of entails that, but whether I'm talking to a kindergarten class, And going over the little home fire escape plans, or if I'm talking to a common board with, with, uh, you know, elderly people that still need to know what their, what their two ways out are and have a plan it's the practice makes perfect part.
So a, a fire safety plan encompasses all of that. Um, if there's any changes to the building, it needs to be updated. Uh, drawings need to be updated and resubmitted to the aha for review and approval. And then it's the supervisory staff or the owners of those buildings that need to review it annually and make sure that they're practicing their two ways out, practicing their fire drills.
And what to do. And, and a lot of times in our area, uh, we have some, you know, when I mention the vulnerable disease, they'll all have fire safety plans. Um, we do fire drills, annually, annually with their, with, uh, the supervisory staffs and the owners there. Um, we witness 'em, they have to do 'em at a certain, uh, time period.
It's a, it's a time drill. Um, a lot of the time the fire crews show up because they're vulnerable buildings and vulner. um, people inside those buildings and, and it's, it's, it's good for everybody to at least do it annually on, uh, on those buildings O other buildings like it for fire safety plans. So I, I, I can't stress enough that if, if, uh, you're unsure, if you need a fire safety plan, reach out to your HJ, uh, they love to help, uh, to, to make sure because.
At the end of the day there there's, I mean, not everybody lives in a, in a, an area where you have a career department, uh, and, and, uh, fire prevention, people that can drive over in a matter of min minutes and help you out. You might have, you know, you might have somebody, um, Uh, like the, uh, the other fellow on your podcast there, the last podcast from, from Montana, you know, some of those areas, you might have one person as a fire permission officer.
Uh, they can't get everywhere at once. Uh it's you know, they don't have the resources to help out, but, uh, that might be where a co consulting company comes into play as well. That that can help you out to see if you need a fire safety plan. Um, so depending on your area, depending on, uh, the building you're.
Uh, make sure that you either have a fire safety plan that's updated, or if you're, if you're not quite, uh, quite sure to reach out to your HJ and, and, uh, see if you, uh, you, you can, I mean, you get to some of these large centers. Uh, I mean, I would say the, the Torontos in our area, they, the fire prevention officers can't get everywhere at once there's buildings that don't have plans to get out.
They, they haven't had their systems checked annually. Like they should. Um, so it it's, it's, uh, it's an onus on the owner to, to get that, uh, done and to make sure their building's up to code. Um, but, uh, and to make sure that they have a fire safety plan as well, that's update. Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. Uh, I appreciate that, um, that it's twofold for the building owner and for the, uh, emergency personnel that are gonna be operating in the building.
So yeah, that makes a lot of sense on that part of it. So as like, uh, a fire prevention officer for a fire department, . So what does that role look like in Canada? Are you reviewing shop drawings for, uh, professionals, like, um, for fire suppression and fire alarm? Are they coming through your office and like, are you getting to review those or are you mainly looking at fire safety plans or is it really a, a kind of, a bit of everything?
Like, uh, yeah, I'd just like to hear more about what that role looks like on the public level. Yeah on the public level. And I can, I can speak on, on, uh, we're we're, we're a medium size, uh, city, um, 40,000 people. What I review are more fire safety plans. We'll get into site plan review. So new buildings that are gonna be construction, uh, sorry, constructed in our area, um, will be brought in from the building department's, uh, standpoint to review that doesn't need a fire.
You know, um, uh, private fire hydrants, do they need a fire safety plan? Uh, you know, any, any, uh, hazards that that building might have that we can raise a red flag for then in that site plan review part. So, you know, so we do the fire safety plan or, sorry, the, um, The site plan review for that. Uh, typically it's the building departments in our area that do the, the plan review, reviewing the shop drawings, reviewing, um, you know, the electrical mechanical drawings that might, uh, entail all the sprinkler design, electrical design.
We, we really lean on our, on our. Professional engineers to, you know, have the calculations, correct. Um, have the systems designed correctly, that's, you know, we, we really lean on that and those, those, um, professional stamps, you know, mean a great deal, uh, to us in, in Ontario. And, and, you know, we, we have site plan reviews, uh, when these buildings are being built and we have a chance to ask questions, uh, you know, it's, it's changed a little bit with COVID.
We used to. Go to a, a city building where we would all meet, you know, the owner of the building that is gonna be doing the construction. The, uh, you know, the, uh, the hydro department would come, fire department would come building department and we'd all, you know, do a round table discussion and, and raise any red flags there.
But in the, in the larger centers, like I would say the Torontos, um, they have specific plans, uh, review people. That would, would do that. They work for the fire, uh, prevention division, but they do plans review only. Uh, and they're, they're very good at that. Very skilled at, uh, knowing when to catch any, anything that might come up in the O uh, I say the C the Ontario building building code, or the, uh, the fire code as well.
Yeah, that's a good, that's a good spot to transition and talk a little bit more about, um, the codes and standards. I know you, you spoke a little bit before on how fire safety plans are required by, um, the building code, but yeah, I'd love, I'm always so fascinated to hear about people working in different jurisdictions that I'm not as well.
Versed in, you know, how they navigate codes and standards, but would love to hear about you speak a little bit more about, um, just like broadly high level overview, what that structure looks like, um, in Canada or in your, uh, province more specifically, I'm sure it'd be easier for you to speak to that instead of nationally.
Yeah. I mean, I, I can. I can speak on the Ontario fire code, which is based on our national fire code, uh, of Canada. And, and I, I was, I'm pretty well versed at that. I'd like to, I I'd like to say I have a, a good handle on that, but I mean, as guardian fire consulting group grew, we grew nationally. So we also do work in Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia and, and those.
Provinces, uh, go off the national fire code. Uh, there's some similarities, but there's, you know, Ontario fire code is a little bit more stringent, um, a little bit more, uh, uh, intricate in certain areas and that's not to take away from the national fire code, any stretch. Um, so it's, it is really neat. Uh, when I'm, you know, uh, I haven't, you know, flown out to those other provinces.
We have. We have connections out there that do some boots on the ground inspections or whatever for us. But when I get chatting with the other AJS in Edmonton or, um, you know, Victoria, BC, it's really neat to hear their side of what, uh, they need out of their, their part of the code. Uh, so, you know, across the country, different provinces might need different, uh, different little.
Uh, intricacies within their code to, to help them out kind of thing. So we, we work off the national fire code and with each provincial code being a little bit more, um, intricate to their needs. Um, and with that, like in, in the Ontario fire code, we have a lot of, uh, we call them can ULC standards of Canadian UN writers, laboratory of Canada standard.
So when fire alarm systems are installed, smoke alarms, any textiles used in buildings, uh, open air tents, any of that kind of stuff, we need it to be created or, or manufactured under a, a, a can ULC standard. We call it, you know, and that, that is, that is broadened off of the UL standards from, from the states.
And I'll, I'll be quite honest with you from a Canadian fire prevention officer standpoint. There's a lot of connections to, to the United States, as far as how further ahead you are with some fire protection standards. So there's, there's a lot of references in our codes to, uh, a can ULC or a, uh, underwriter laboratory standard that we look for in, in compliance with, uh, some parts of the code.
Um, and then like for, for our, uh, for our, our fire code and our. Our legal requirements. We work under a fire protection and prevention act. There's, there's an act at the front of, of our code. I I'm pretty sure it's the same down in the states. Can I, am I correct in saying that, that, uh, Each state would have its its own code.
And in that they work under an act. Yeah. So it is the way it kind of works in the states is like each state has its own adoption of the building code, the international building code and they have specific amendments. So they kind of each accept, oh, we accept 2015 or 2018 edition of the building code.
And we have these specific amendments at the state level or at the city level. And so it, it's kind of all under, uh, certain municipal code that gives it the force of law. So I think that's what you're speaking to. Yeah. Yeah. That's that's it, it gives us our. Our, you know, rights of entry or it gives us, you know, what a, uh, what a chief's duties are, what a, what a, um, um, an AJ's duties are.
So we work under that, that act, that act, uh, you know, gives us our, our, our framework for what, uh, we can and cannot do. Uh, and then, like I said before, um, our province has a fire marshal's office and that's who we train. Through, uh, we were doing a provincial training curriculum before and we switched to the NFPA curriculum, uh, which, which is terrific.
So we work off of, of IFTA. Um, and I'm gonna, I'm gonna mess up that acronym, but you know, the international fire, you know what I mean? So we work office to, uh, we train off. Um, so there's, there's a lot of similarities between our code and our standards and what has come out of the us. Uh, we have a, we, I can speak specifically in Stratford where we have, um, a feeder company and four feeder buildings in town.
Um, quite, uh, I know quite famous in our area do a lot of Shakespearean plays and stuff like that. And when they do a lot of, um, like flame proofing of textiles, Uh, the, the curtains that they use to, you know, divide the, the crowd from the stage and any, any standards that they come to our office for, for approval.
It, it is usually tenfold above and beyond what our standards might be. They, they use a lot of California standards, uh, in the, in the feeder world. I'm not too sure exactly why, but the California standard is pretty, uh, is pretty thrill and stringent and, uh, yeah, and, and quite safe. So. You know, we, we see a lot of, we see a lot of blending between our, our Canadian code and standards, um, which I'm sure in, in that history has come from from the us side.
So, um, there are, there are a lot of similarities, uh, maybe just some different terms and acronyms that we use, but, um, that that's basically what we work off. Oh, yeah, very cool. I appreciate that. Appreciate that explanation on, you know, uh, the codes and standards since that's the bread and butter. What we do, but it's like, feels like it's in a different world.
And like, I'm totally outta my element when I'm hearing you talking about this stuff. Um, but yeah, I appreciate that. Yeah. Um, I wanted to talk to you a bit more about like, just your experience, you know, being an entrepreneur and starting in like this in endeavor during the pandemic, like, man, that sounds like a really wild ride.
I'd love to hear some more about just like the nuts and bolts about you figuring that out, like challenges that you had and. The different things you had to overcome during that process? It sounds like it was, uh, a lot, it, it was a lot and it, it was enjoyable. I mean, if, if anybody's gonna start a, uh, you know, a company be an entrepreneur, starting a, during a pandemic is, is a good way to learn some quick lessons.
But, um, I mean, like I had mentioned before I had started working for, for another firm and the, the problem was. So with, with our company, we have careered fire prevention officers that work with us. So they're all subcontracted out. So if it's slow, like through the pandemic was because I I'll say like, from, from my fire department, we were working remotely.
We got shut, shut down and worked remotely, uh, three different times. For, you know, let's say a span of two to three months. So there was no, there was no fire inspectors really boots to the ground that were doing inspections and, and making owners, uh, come into compliance. So it wasn't as busy as I wanted it to be.
Right. Like, you know, I, I, wasn't doing it for my end and you know, the customers that I wanted to work for, weren't getting. You know, and your request from AHJs to get work done, fire safety plans or code reviews or any of that kind of stuff. Right. So, but, but it was almost a blessing in disguise because it allowed me some time to figure out.
I mean, I, I, wasn't a good computer guy. I had to figure out how to. Do word perfect. And, and PDF, you know, uh, fire safety plan. And I get really proficient with computers. So it allowed me time to do that. It allowed me time to build my, my LinkedIn portfolio and to reach out to people like yourself or, you know, anybody in, in our area and, and.
To, to, to get a good sense of what other entrepreneurs are doing and, and try to navigate, you know, not really recreate the wheel and try to offer anything different because as cool as the fire prevention world is, you know, there's only so much you can do, right. And you, you just want to get really good at that.
So trying to get that network of people in place that, uh, can kind of help. And I can say, you know, Uh, the more people I reached out to were people that already had companies and were already, uh, along the, the line along the way, like people in, uh, you've heard of, uh, Jensen Hughes and mm-hmm Morrison.
Hershfield like they're in international kind of co consulting companies. Mm-hmm they're, you know, I, I started reaching out to the. To the big dogs, if you want to call it and, and to find out what, what, what do you gotta do to get not to where you are? I didn't, I don't want to get that large of, of a company, but, you know, they must have done something right.
To get to the size they were at. So, you know, I got that network, uh, in place as far as, uh, being able to comfortably reach out to people and, and get answers back, um, marketing, you know, I'm not a social media guy completely, but you know, you, you start doing your own post and getting your name out there.
And then it turns into accounting. You know, you, you're making some money now, you gotta do your accounting and you have to incorporate, you know, get a, get an accountant and you figure out how to, uh, become a corporation and, and do all those kind of steps to make sure you're doing, you know, I mean the IRS down there, but it's, uh, the CRA the Canadian revenue agency up here, you wanna make sure that you don't tick them off.
Right. So sure. It it's, it's been growth. I mean, I had some grandeur in my head that, you know, as these other, uh, individuals and companies I reached out for, I, I could see, you know, I'm trying to be an entrepreneur, so you wanna make some money at it. Right. So I'm seeing these other companies that were quite large and pulling in some big figures and.
And I was humbled quite quickly to learn that it's, it's, it's gotta grow organically. You, you can't do the leaps and bounds and try to offer more than, than you can. Um, you know, you, if, if you offer a service and some large company wants to hire you, you had to make sure that you have the players at the table to be able to offer that, that service, or you.
As much as we're in the internet world. And, and it seems like it's, it's a large world, the word of mouth, part of it gets around quite quickly. So you wanna make sure that you have a, a really good brand. So when I, when I connected with this other, this other firm, uh, when I was Ontario fire safety plans and they were who they were, and we branded a guardian, uh, there was a fellow by the name of Robert Hennig that that was running, uh, his company, um, an older gentleman, he they're older than.
And, and, uh, he really helped me learn a lot about, you know, keeping it slow, customer service, getting a good brand, like just, just slowing down and having it grow organically. And that that's been huge cuz you know, I I'm a goer. I, I, you know, I get up in the morning and I want to go all day long and it's, and that's the way I've, I'm I'm hardwired.
But when it comes to the entrepreneurial stuff, You can do that to a point when you're starting to reach out for new connections and stuff like that. But when you really are sitting down, talking to people and trying to, to, um, you know, discuss what you can do for them, you, you really gotta slow it down and, and, uh, and make sure that you, you know, you're open and honest and you treat it one customer at a time.
So that, that, that growth organically through this pandemic. Has actually helped quite a bit to, you know, if it was super busy, you know, there wasn't a pandemic going on and, and for whatever reason I was getting jobs left right. And center, I might not have found, you know, all the tools in the toolbox to, to be a good business person.
So when things might have got tough, I would've known how to deal with it. Right. So. Going going at it slow. You know, you, you hear a lot of these, I mean, I'm on, you know, LinkedIn or Instagram or whatever, and you hear, hear all these little soundbites of all these entrepreneurs about it. Does. It sounds easy, you know, just do this, just do that.
And you'll be rolling in this and you'll be doing that. And it's, and it's, and it's not. And I hope, I hope people believe the fact that when you wanna become an entrepreneur and, and start your own business, um, it's, it's gonna be a slow go, but it's you. It's a marathon. It's not, it's not a race. So I'm finding that and I'm getting in a good state of mind, a good, a good, uh, a frame of mind to, to, to go the long game.
Um, I mean, people might have an I an idea of a date of when they wanna retire, I'm gonna be 60 and I wanna retire. I don't, I don't think that way it's I want to do this as long as I can. Um, you know, I'm, I'm gonna be hitting 50. You know, it doesn't doesn't matter. Or when you're turning 60 that you just shut the door and, and, you know, you're done with your entrepreneurial life and you, you you've, uh, you're done with the business.
Like you're only gonna get better as years go on. I mean, I've, I could say this wholeheartedly, that when I started in the fire prevention world and you know, I was 12, or let's say 10 years into it, and I thought I'm gonna do my own business. I know enough. I didn't know, near what I thought I should know.
So when you started reaching out to other people, listening to podcasts like yourselves and, and, uh, you know, trying, trying to brand you, you quickly realized that this fire protection world fire prevention, public education, it's massive. And there's so many layers to it. That yes, I'm an entrepreneur. Yes.
I have my own business. Yes. We're we're growing quite nicely. But we're just in the incipient stage like this, there there's a lot to know. Um, and, and I can say to other entrepreneurs as. We have nine services that we offer, uh, anything from the fire safety plans that we had chatted about, um, co consulting, alternative solutions, uh, alternative solutions being, you know, there's something in the code that can't quite be achieved.
So you, you have another solution that can, um, so, you know, have the functional statements and objections, uh, be reached, um, The fire extinguisher training. There's lots of things that we do, but make sure that whatever you offer you're, you're gonna do it well. And, and, and just, you know, just take it one customer and, and one project at a time kind of thing.
So my, my road from being a fire prevention officer to thinking I could start. You know, hitting the ground running as an entrepreneur or running a business, uh, has been a great eye opener. And, and I can say, uh, like you, you had, uh, mentioned about this whole pandemic world, as much as you'd like to, you know, put money in your bank, account, hand, over fist.
Anybody would wanna do that. I'm glad, I'm glad that the pandemics kind of slowed things down for some people that did maybe leave their full-time jobs and started, uh, a business. Um, to be able to just kind of slow it up, figure your, your, your, your base business out and, and then grow from there. So it's been, uh, uh, it's, it's been a good learning curve.
I I've thoroughly enjoyed it. Yeah. That's awesome. It's good to hear, you know, I, I feel like you did a lot of hard things and, you know, you gotta kind of have. Willingness to jump into the deep end and just go do it. And so, like, I can hear your, you know, your disposition to, to go and to, and to not be stagnant and to wanna move forward.
And, and honestly, I've seen most people just sputter out at the first couple steps, like before you even get into ever really doing the thing. So. That, that energy and that momentum carried you through, into like starting and doing the thing. But, uh, it was really, I think it was really a good takeaway for me to be like, here you say, yeah, sometimes though you need to slow down and you need to be more thoughtful about, you know, just saying like, yeah, we can do it.
Yeah. We can do it because that's my kind of. that's how I feel sometimes too. Like I'm, I'm quick to say yes. And then as, you know, as I start to process it or think about it, I realized that, oh man, there's like these roadblocks that I wasn't thinking about. And I was just excited about getting into the process of it.
And so, yeah. Yeah, yeah. But, uh, I feel similarly as you, so I, yeah, it's good for me to hear that somebody else say that, cuz so I can try to internalize that yeah. Well that's it. It's true. I. I hated hearing it two years ago when, when I had people go, oh, just take it slow. I said, no, I gotta go. I got, I got something to offer.
I wanna, I wanna get an out to the world. Right. But, uh, and, and then just to kind of, to, you know, add to that family is a huge part in wanting to be, become an entrepreneur and, and start your own company. Like not only does my wife and, and kids have to deal with me. Well, I mean, going to shift five days a week now to be a fire prevention officer, but soon going back on the fire trucks and back into fires, they have to deal with that part of it.
But you know, they also have to deal with, okay guys, uh, I have, I have a podcast I'm gonna do this morning. You, you gotta stay outta my way. Or, you know, I got the, these projects on to go. I'm I'm working Saturday, I'm working Sunday. I mop at five. I'm doing stuff in the morning before you go to like it, it takes.
Some understanding and some support from your family as well. Like, I can't say that enough. Uh, you know, if you're gonna be able to, uh, to be successful in the business, you gotta be successful in your own life first. Um, uh, to that regard, I, I don't wanna paint everybody with the same brush, but, um, yeah.
It's you gotta have that support as well. Yeah, it's true. I mean, it is a hard thing. It can be a hard thing, you know, that extra work and if you don't have solid foundations in your family or your personal life, It's not gonna add up. It's not gonna add up to be good. So, no. Yeah, I appreciate that's a good thing.
What you're saying, you know, that I've definitely experienced it too, you know? Yeah. Long hours or working on the weekend or just having an understanding with your significant other or your family and just like that. Hey, you know, I'm gonna take care of business. I still, you know, value all these other great things about life, but, um, this is something that's important to me and it gives me a lot of energy and.
You know, makes me excited to wake up in the morning. Like, I, I could know that you're stoked when you get up to, to work on something and feel like you're really moving the needle for your personal and your, your family life. Like that's huge. Yeah. And when you are, when you're bettering yourself, you're better for others.
Right. So it kind of, it kind of sounds a little bit, you know, maybe selfish when you're, when you're taken off into your home office. You know, hours on the weekend and I get it. Um, you know, some days you might rather be playing catch with your son or, or, you know, going for a walk with your dogs or whatever it is, you, you get to that.
You have to have a good family, um, work life balance. But when you're better as a person and you're working on yourself, then you're better for your significant other, for your kid, all that kind of stuff. Right. So it, it all, you know, it's it, this is, this is our baby. Like, I love fire prevention and, and I think you do too, but.
um, it goes worldwide. I mean, if, if, if you gotta be good at your yourself, uh, to be good at your job, to be able to offer this to be, you know what, it's just the, the, the intertwining of all, this is just, it's, it's a beautiful thing. Um, life is beautiful that way. Yeah, it is. It feeds off itself and you're right.
I mean, like I've seen people who become, you know, who, who care about what they do, um, root benefits in all aspects of life. So I think that it's. it's beneficial in that way, but, um, I wanted to kind of round out the podcast with, uh, a question about just like, where do you like to get technical information?
Or like, how do you keep in touch with like what the industry's doing? I know that you talked about IFTA, which I had to Google that, but it says, just says international fire service training association. I think I've seen good resources from them before, but what. Places do you like to, you know, I don't know, just, just read articles or, or content like that.
Oh, oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, I'm lucky as a fire prevention, um, officer, as an AJ that we get fed provincially, uh, or it be state state for you guys, um, any changes to the fire code that's about to happen, or we have, uh, certain times throughout here where we can have our input into changes into the code coming up.
Like you had mentioned, you were working off the 2015. Um, building code and, and, and fire code. And, and we are as well. There's some new changes coming out soon. Um, so we have our fire marshal, uh, advisors, uh, that we can reach out for. Um, there's there's UL courses that we've taken. Um, there's something called, uh, integrated systems testing that, that we do.
So instead of in a building that's being built and different systems, fire and life safety systems being commission. Um, you know, the elevator's commissioned the fire alarm system. Everything's commissioned on its own. Uh, there's a new, there's a new standard through UL where it's called integrated systems testing.
Uh, and guardian, uh, does that as well as coordinators where we have, we have test days and we have all the design, um, the design people that have designed those systems and the installers there to test everything at once. So they all marry and talk to each other. Uh, the fire alarm system goes. Um, you know, the elevator comes down the way it should, uh, the fire pump activates the way it should, all those kind of things.
So that's integrated systems testing. We, we do that, but I get that, that knowledge and those courses through UL, um, which is, uh, which is out of Illinois, who, who, uh, who I chat with, um, subscribe to NFPA the NFPA network. Uh, they have daily stuff that comes out. It it's, it's terrific reads, right? It, it keeps you in tune with, you know, how many NFPA standards are.
There's there's a ton. I, I don't even know how, I don't even know how many it's in the thousands, but you know, you, you, like I talked about becoming a better fire prevention person, like there's standards that come out where, uh, Uh, you, you didn't even know it existed kind of thing. So NFPA is a great one for that.
Um, and then really the best, the best, uh, knowledge base that I get are for mother ahas. Uh, people like yourself, the, the talking part. Um, you know, there's lots of people with lots of, uh, skill sets that, um, just, just want to just want to teach other people about it. So other people, uh, are, are one of the big, uh, proponents of where I get, uh, a lot of my knowledge for, so it's, it's, it's good.
And there's, there's some Canadian standards up here. The, uh, CFA Canadian fire alarm association. That that's a big one. Um, fire alarms has such a huge, um, uh, place in buildings, uh, and are intertwined with a lot of other systems that you, you, you, you need to really know what these designers and installers are up against.
And I mean, we're just, I, I'm just, I'm gonna say I'm just an aha, but I'm not the professional and selling it. So you're really lean on those professionals to, to teach you as well. So there's, there's lots of those kind of. um, you know, daily, uh, things on the internet that come out through N FPA through fire alarm associations, through our, uh, fire marshals offices that, uh, you know, they keep you up to date.
Um, so what I used to do when I started. I didn't read them at all. I, I thought I just, you know, I need to just look at the book. I need to deal with my community, uh, and deal, deal with the fire code issue there, but it wasn't until I stopped and started reading these things where I really got some good value.
Uh, I, I hated reading before, before I became a, uh, a business owner, you know, even, even in the fire, I hated reading. Uh, I hated, you know, trying to dive my nose into a book to figure out a situation. I was more of a talker and just tried to. You know, call somebody for an answer or that's how I used to do it.
Uh, so like slowing down and, and growing your business, I had to slow down and, and start reading through all these little standards and, and organizations that offered this knowledge, like N FPA and, uh, and, uh, you know, the UL standards. And then, you know, My mind was blown with all the other things that were in there that could, could, uh, really broaden my, my horizons and knowledge on, on fire prevention.
So those are, those are the, the main ones that I look at, uh, our provincial, um, fire Marsh's office, NFPA, uh, UL. And then from that, we have some, some, uh, trades like the fire alarm and, and sprinkler trades that, uh, have, um, you know, networks that have daily, uh, daily reach. Yeah, well, that's awesome. Roddy.
Well, thank you so much. Well, where can people find you or find, um, guardian? Sorry, what was the name of your company again? Where can they find you or your company, um, plug whatever you would like. Yeah. It's so it's guardian fire consulting group. So it's guardian F cg.ca uh, CA obviously, cuz we're in Canada.
Um, but again, we're national. Um, we're, we're looking at getting in, we're so close to the states, uh, that we're getting into that, uh, that lower portion as well. Um, so if you look on the website, guardian, uh, at www.guardian F CG, um, dot CA you'll find everything you, you need to know about us. You can reach out, ask any questions, um, and we'd just love to help, uh, not necessarily that it's gonna come to fruition worth any projects, but if you have any fire code question, I love answering those just absolutely love it.
Awesome. Well, Roddy, thank you so much. And for coming on the podcast and yeah, it was awesome. Thanks GU I really appreciate it. It was really nice to meet you and chat with you and, uh, I look forward to more your episodes. They're they're terrific. Thanks for listening. Everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business.
The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes and standards interpretation. Be sure to contact a licensed professional. If you are getting involved. Fire protection and or life safety. Thanks again. And we'll see you next time.