Dec 14, 2020
Josh Bracket, P.E., is a fire protection engineer who specializes in facilities maintenance as it relates to healthcare occupancies. On this episode, we break down some of the challenges associated with healthcare facilities and how the fire protection and life safety for these buildings differs from traditional business occupancies. Listen to hear Josh's two big takeaways for how the pandemic has changed healthcare occupancies ITM irrevocably.
Informal Discussion 1:45
Tell me about how you got into the fire protection space? 7:20
Would you speak about SASHE and CHFM? 20:35
What is ITM and what does that mean in the context of health care facilities? 24:55
Tell me about what Legacy FM and what kind of work you are involved with? 34:30
Can you speak about your work on NFPA codes and standards development? 41:40
Would you speak about the informational videos that you have been involved with? 49:35
How has the pandemic had impact on the healthcare industry and the way healthcare occupancies do business? 55:50
Hello, all welcome to the show. I'm Gus Gagliardi, and this is fire code tech on fire code tech. We interview fire protection professionals from all different careers and backgrounds in order to provide insight and a resource for those in the field. My goal is to help you become a more informed fire protection.
Professional fire code tech has interviews with engineers and researchers, fire marshals, and insurance professionals, and highlights topics like codes and standards, engineering systems, professional development, and trending topics in the industry. So if you're someone who wants to know more about fire protection or the fascinating stories of those who are in the.
You're in the right place. Hello. All welcome to episode 18 of fire code tech. On this episode of fire code tech, we have Josh bracket. Josh is a fire protection engineer who specializes in healthcare, occupancies and facilities maintenance on this episode of fire code tech, we get into, what does it look like to perform inspection, testing, and maintenance for a campus of healthcare facilities.
Josh gives us a look at what are the differences between healthcare occupancies and your standard commercial business occupancy. In episode 18 of fire code tech, we talk about Josh's company legacy FM, a company where he specializes in how to train your facilities, maintenance, technicians, and staff, the best practices and codes and standards for the industry.
We go over Josh's involvement in the codes and standards creation process. Then we break down. Josh's two big takeaways from how the pandemic has changed, the way healthcare occupancies operate. Don't forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and follow us on social media. Let's get into the show.
I've been watching your videos for a while, and, um, it's been great seeing somebody who knows what they're talking about, get into, uh, fire protection. And it's remarkable to me that there are just not very many resources out there on YouTube, or just in general for people describing fire protection systems or just, you know, especially even more niche I think is, uh, inspection, testing and maintenance.
So yeah, it's, it's kinda, it's kinda wild to see you in that space and just. Realize how wide open that space is for information and content, but it seems like you've been a lot of people have been responded positively to, um, what you've been thrown out there. Yeah. They have been, um, and it's, it's been a lot of fun, honestly.
It's, um, I've really enjoyed it. Um, and, uh, , you know, there's always, I, I think, I think there's always, uh, a few people that, that disagree are kind of the naysayers, but, but yeah, you're right. The majority of people are, are very excited about it and, um, it's really cool to kind see it just keep growing and seeing other people.
Share it or be involved in it or, um, you know, I'm starting to see a couple of other people who are starting to do videos, which is great. That's what I want. I mean, let's, let's share our knowledge and, and get the information out there. The more people that we get talking about it, the, the better our industry is going to be.
Yeah. Without a doubt. I mean, you know, to stimulate the conversation and, uh, distribute the information and lower the barrier to entry for professionals, I think is the ethical thing to do. Uh, you know, sometimes I, I feel like our industry, it likes to have this, uh, Like knowledge barrier or expertise barrier for people to get involved with fire protection and life safety work.
And, and, uh, I was talking with somebody recently was saying, uh, you know, this is like the, the law and the, and life safety, you know, the whole idea of what we do is to make safer buildings. So yeah, I think that's a, a noble pursuit to push for, uh, safer buildings and better information for professionals.
So that's pretty neat. So I saw, I don't know if it was this week, but I saw you at that, uh, ashy conference and this, you had a talk going, was that this week? Yeah, that was, uh, last week. Yeah, I had one on, uh, one on Monday and then one on Wednesday. That's awesome. That's awesome. Have you had a lot of experience speaking at conferences and stuff?
Um, I have, um, uh, I don't know. I've probably done, you know, a dozen or so, um, live presentations and probably about another dozen or so, uh, web webcasts or, uh, webinars. Yeah. It's, uh, that's not an easy thing to do. I was trying to, uh, for our local SFP chapter this year do a, uh, a presentation over a webinar.
And I thought I had plenty of content and I was struggling after like, uh, and I'm not afraid of, uh, like presenting or whatever, but I was like, how about halfway through? I was like, man, I needed more slides and more bullet points. It's, uh, it's definitely a skill and it's not easy. So it is not, no, it's, it's, it's very difficult.
Um, webinars are very hard to, because you're, you're, there's very little feedback, um, during them, you know? I mean, so, especially, especially if it's just a webinar, you know, and you can't see, see everybody and you see, oh, I'm, I'm talking to 3, 4, 500 people and I have no idea if number one, they can hear me or any kind of response back.
So , yeah, you could be having connectivity issues or, you know, maybe you're breaking up and you didn't know. And there's like, uh, there's no feedback from people's faces. A lot of times people will have their video off and yeah, that's kind of bizarre. It is. But, uh, but anyways, yeah, I, uh, I'm excited to have you on the show.
I'm excited to get into some areas. I haven't had the opportunity to talk with anybody about on fire code tech. Talked about ITAM a little bit, but I'm excited to talk to you about, um, healthcare and, uh, just your background in healthcare. It seems, I think, uh, you know, fire protection is already so niche and, uh, just a very, um, specialized thing, but, uh, I'm always interested in drilling down into further, uh, more specialized categories of fire protection.
So I think it's, I'm excited to talk to you about, um, healthcare and your background, because I think healthcare is a really interesting and complex niche within fire protection, which is already a pretty, uh, obscure niche topic in itself. But definitely. Yeah. But, uh, yeah, so I just wanted to, uh, Kick the interview off and get started with yeah.
Letting the listeners know a little bit about your background and how you've got into the fire protection space and what you're doing now. Sure, absolutely. Um, so I, uh, I actually started out all I wanted to be, my whole life was a firefighter and I think a lot of fire protection engineers kind of start out that way secretly or, or openly.
Right. But, um, and, uh, that's what I wanted to do. And I graduated, uh, right at the end of the, the 2008 financial crisis. Um, and I was just applying left and right to fire departments, uh, and got to the, the final interview, um, several times the chief interview several times at several departments and just kept being rejected, man.
And, um, you know, the last one that I. That I, uh, got to that chief interview with, I, you know, we had some, some sort of, I remember it, like it was yesterday, had a, had a, um, hose coupling assembly, you know, that you had to do in front of him. Uh, they showed you a picture for a couple of seconds and, and you had to do it from memory.
And I sat down, um, afterwards and, um, he looked through my packet and he said, I'm not gonna hire you. And I was like, well, I have another 58 minutes. Can I , you know, this is continuing to happen to me. What's going on? Like why? And he said, he said, man, he's like, you're, you're already, you've already graduated with your fire protection engineering degree.
Why is this what you wanna do? You know? And, uh, kind of took, took me aback, you know? So two days later I got a phone call from a, a company I had interviewed with two years before. Um, and they said, Hey, we want to, you, you. Your wife's now graduated, um, from college, uh, which was the reason I, I didn't take the job before and he's like, Hey, do you wanna, you wanna come and interview again?
And I was like, you know what, why not? Um, clearly, clearly the firefighting route wasn't, wasn't meant to be. Uh, so I'll, I'll take a stab at this and ended up getting the job. Um, and, uh, kind of the rest is rest is history from there. and then it's been a pretty diverse career since then, then, you know, I, I really kind of, before that, it's, it's been several things that have shaped my career.
Um, it's been even, even before college, right? If we take a step back before that, I, um, I actually, co-owned a, uh, an appliance repair company with my, my stepdad, and it was a, a good chunk of what put me through college gave me, gave me the funding to, to get through college. Um, And had a couple of different internships figured out what I liked, what I didn't like worked at Conico Phillips on the safety side for a little bit.
Um, not really, not really what I was feeling, you know, it's, didn't, didn't align with kind of my passions and what I was thinking. Um, did, uh, I, I actually helped, um, help do the, the build out of half the half dome of the OSU stadium with, uh, a sprinkler company, um, found out that that sling and pipe around was really hard work.
Uh and decided that wasn't what I wanted to do. Um, spent a little bit of time on an ambulance service doing and did some volunteer firefighting. Um, and then, you know, so, so, and that kind of all led me to, to this, that engineering, uh, company, you know, I got there and, and I already had, you know, a good idea of, of what I didn't want to do, um, and started doing fire protection engineering started out on the, the sprinkler side.
Um, Solely. Uh, and, and at that company that I was at the, the electrical engineers actually did all the fire alarm design and, and things like that. And, and like most companies, it it's it's, Hey, you know, very minimal, um, design, both, both on sprinkler or on fire alarm. It's kind of hatch jobs is what I call 'em.
Right. And, and more of, uh, the governance of having the engineers, um, to be able to look through some middles and things like that. And man, I really started pushing the boundaries on that. And I said, so we can grow this. I said, there's fire protection engineering companies out there, and we could keep growing this.
And, you know, and, and there was this kind of innate desire. I'm not like a normal engineer in the, the sense where when most people think of engineers as kind of generalized. To the li they like to keep to themselves and they're not very outgoing and, and they're great at calculations and stuff like that.
And, um, that, that actually, you know, I, that was more of my weakness, I would say, uh, more than anything I really enjoy, um, talking to people, poking holes and things, redlining drawings, um, working with the contractors, figuring out better ways of doing stuff, you know? So, um, we actually had a, that, that the company had a whole bunch of electrical engineers leave, um, all at one time.
And, and I said, Hey, you know, I took a fire fire alarm design class in school. Surely I can do that. Um, and , that's kind where my love of, of fire alarm started. Uh, and, and it was a blast. I, I loved, I loved learning, just dug in deep into, um, I was one thing that I've always enjoyed is when, when I get something new, I just read and I dig and I find, find as much as I can on it.
And, uh, you know, just. Just the, the kind of, the love for learning, you know, um, some people, you know, live to, to learn and others like learn to live or whatever. And, uh, but I really enjoy it. Um, and, uh, so I kept growing in that role. Um, and I actually took a business case to, I was the first well first engineer to, to bridge the gap between what I would call mechanical fire protection and electrical fire protection.
Right. And so, um, and I was doing both, both roles on these projects. Um, and I loved it because there was less, less coordination was less, you know, that's one of the downsides of, of, of having so many disciplines is, is you gotta, there's a lot of coordination that has to go into it, but I saw this opportunity to really grow this.
So I, I presented a business plan to the, uh, to the board of directors at the engineering firm and, and. It wasn't the next day, but that's kinda like the story that I tell I, the next day they made me director of business development. So , um, and, uh, you know, and, and that just opened up so many doors, so many opportunities.
It taught me a lot about the public speaking and, and dealing with clients and, uh, learning what clients need, um, more so than just the engineering. Right. And, um, and, but my love for that for fire protection engineering never went away. Um, and so I was, I was working on, you know, growing the whole engineering firm holistically, uh, and the engineering firm did, they kept growing, um, ended up, uh, becoming a, they were already national to begin with, but, uh, ended up becoming even larger that, that went through a big, um, merger.
And, you know, it was kind of at that time that I, that, um, my wife and I. We're starting to, to start a family and, and all of that. She actually worked at the engineering firm as well. And I was like, nah, you know, I'm not gonna, , I'm tired of sleeping in a hotel every night. So, um, ended up finding a local job, working for, uh, fire alarm and sprinkler contractor, uh, doing business development and client growth there, um, as their, their chief chief business development officer.
And I learned a lot about the contracting side and I learned a lot about the issues between engineered drawings and contractor drawings and, and going through it and trying to figure out, and I, and it, man, I realized it's a very, very broken process. I, I also realized that the contractor's world was not where I wanted to be.
Um, it wasn't a good fit because, uh, I, I very much have a very, very strong, ethical view of. Of fire protection and life safety. Um, and I, I've never been one to cut corners, and I'm not saying that the company did, I'm just saying that, um, you know, it, it, the owners, especially, it's hard to convince somebody on a low bid, you know, how to do the right thing.
Um, and it's just, there was this huge educational gap, um, on, on what the right thing was. So I decided to leave that, that company and I was like, I'm gonna start, start my own thing. And, and, uh, that was kind of in my brain. And, but I was doing a lot of work at that time for, um, the, the place I currently work Baptist health hospital, uh, and I was actually managing, they, we, there were some issues that we were having with, uh, their joint commission, uh, reporting.
So I got really, really heavily into, to the ITM side then, and, and developing the processes, uh, and procedures. For that, because I saw it as an opportunity. You know, I started doing a lot of, uh, of market research and found that, that there really wasn't a company out there doing it. Right. So I saw this huge opportunity to like, develop this and take it and, and take our small local contracting company national.
And I've always, I've always tried to bite it off more than I can chew. So so Baptist calls me though, when I said, I, when I decided to leave, they said, Hey, we got this position. We want you to join our team. Um, we'll figure every we'll figure out all the details. Let's go. You know? So I applied, they interviewed me, I got the job and that's as, uh, special projects manager there and special project manager does, you know, initially it was really, um, Hey, we need to sprinkler our high rise building and we need to develop this ITM program.
And our fire alarm systems are starting to fail. And so, but that, that quickly grew into, Hey, we're gonna insource a construction team. Hey, we're starting. To handle energy management, which was another thing that I did for the engineering firm, uh, previously. So it's just kind of just kept growing, um, and growing.
And, um, I love, I love every aspect of it. Um, and then decided to start my own, uh, company with my wife co-founded legacy FM. Uh, and it goes back to that, that kind of holistic view of, of what we do is develop custom training programs for healthcare facilities teams, um, realizing that there's a gap in the industry, um, from a learning perspective, you know, the skilled trades, um, there's not a whole lot of education and training out there for 'em, uh, especially the, on the job side of it.
So, um, you know, learning, learning how to do refrigeration or, or run a central plant or, um, whatever that, you know, those, those kind of courses exist. But, uh, there's a whole lot that goes into to healthcare facilities management. That, that there's just no training for the, the technicians on man. What a remarkable story of your experience you've really run the gamut on, uh, on, uh, the different, uh, avenues of the career that you could pursue as a, as a fire protection professional.
I mean, uh, you said you had some experience with safety and, you know, your initial experience with the, uh, with engineering and, you know, fire suppression and fire alarm design. That's, uh, remarkable man. You have a pretty diverse background. I'm sure that's a big help for you now. Um, knowing what it's like to sling pipe and, you know, also, uh, being on the construction or the design side of things.
So that's pretty remarkable. It is it, I mean, I've been very blessed, um, you know, and that, that's how I look at it is that. I haven't had a whole lot of career changes over my career, but the ones that I have, you know, I've, I've taken, I've learned so much from them and I've had had some really great mentors and, and, and really have been able to explore my passion and, and hone in on my passion.
Not everybody can say that. So I just consider myself very blessed. Yeah. I really like also what you're saying about, you know, uh, being a constant learner and trying to, uh, you know, keep professionally developing and seeking new challenges and new, uh, pursuits is in your career. That's something that I resonate with and, you know, uh, like would like to think about myself as well, but, uh, yeah, that's awesome.
So you gave a pretty comprehensive. you know, outlook on your background. I it's really interesting. Yeah. I wanted to get a little bit more into healthcare, but before, you know, I was really interested, uh, when I was taking a look at your profile, I saw that you had, um, some different certifications that I wasn't real aware of.
I didn't know if you would, uh, speak about, um, Sahi. Is that how you say it and yeah. Your SA your C H FM certification. That's right. Yeah, definitely. So, um, Sahi and, and CHF M are both, uh, designations from the, from Ashi, uh, which is the American society for healthcare engineering. Uh, and they're, they're a professional membership group of the American hospital Associa.
So, um, and it's a, it's, it's an organization that I am heavily, heavily, deeply involved in from, from multiple different aspects. Um, and I, I love, I love them. I love everything that they do. Uh, but it's actually, that's our, um, organization for healthcare engineers. Um, and it's a big, big chunk of how, how facilities managers get their continuing education and stuff like that.
So, and the Sashi designation is, is very similar to, to like, you know, the S F P E side, you have your, you have fasci or, I mean, you have. Uh, the fellows, you know, for, for S F P E. So, um, there's a, there's a step here in Ashi before you get your fellow, you become, uh, a senior, which is what the S stands for and to, to be a senior, um, you have to have, I think it's like five years, uh, of membership experience and you have to have some pretty, uh, great contributions through, they have three, three kind of sec segments, uh, leadership, education, and publishing.
Um, the education could be through, you know, webinars or through in person presentations, delivering presentations, things like that. So, um, and I'm one of the youngest, uh, youngest members to ever get, get his, uh, Sashi. Um, I heard at one point I was the youngest. I don't, you know, unverified, so, but, uh, and then the CHF M is the, um, certified healthcare facilities manager.
Designation. And it's a, uh, it's, um, kind of the, the, the benchmark for knowledge of, of facilities managers. Um, and they, it, there's five different pillars to that. There's, there's compliance, uh, planning, design, and construction, maintenance, and operations, uh, finance, and then administration. And, uh, it's a very difficult, you have to, you have to have number one, you have to, I think it's like three years or so of experience, uh, to take, take the exam.
But then, um, it's also, it's a very difficult exam to pass because it's such a broad, uh, topic of knowledge and it's closed book. Um, and I mean, you really, especially once we get to talking a little bit more about healthcare, I think think the audience will understand like the complexities associated with it.
Um, and it's got a very low pass rate, so , yeah, so, so much so that I actually wrote a, a LinkedIn article about like what I did to study for it. Um, and. I I passed, but I barely passed. So man. Yeah. And the fire protection PE, which you're also a PE has a pretty low pass rate too. It has the, like the third lowest of any PE exams.
So it does, it does. And I, I kinda looked at it like when I took my PE, you know, I like to joke with people about, uh, my, my, uh, my boss, uh, at the hospital's actually a mechanical engineer. And so he and I kind of joked back and forth a lot. And I asked him, I was like, how many books did you take to the exam?
And he's like 13. And I was like, I took like 30. So , you know, but I like to, I like to joke that, you know, fire protection engineering is as, as niche as it is, is still so there's, it's so broad, you know, there's so much that we cover. Um, so. For sure. Without a doubt. Yeah. It's, it's, it's pretty weird when you, you know, tell people who maybe aren't so equated with the PE that you had to take like crates worth of books to the exam.
Yeah. But, uh, it's, uh, it's kind of wild that, that all stops, uh, with this exam coming up and it'd be the, the last paper exam was last year, so that's kind of crazy, but, um, yeah, I wanted to get into more of, uh, maybe for those who don't know or, you know, just to expand upon it a little bit. I wanted to hear from you like your perspective on, uh, what ITM is and what facilities engineering, you know, means in the context of what you do now and, uh, healthcare facilities.
Absolutely. Um, so ITM, you know, is, is clearly for those listening, you know, uh, fi um, inspection, testing, and maintenance, right. And, uh, and that's a very broad. Term, uh, that actually applies throughout all, all of, uh, facilities engineering, uh, but is especially referenced in, in the codes, um, in FPA codes, which is, which is, you know, our primary go to, um, and , oh boy.
So healthcare facilities engineering in general, just the facilities management facilities engineering, I'll use those terms interchangeably. Uh, but is I heard, I have heard numerous times. Um, and, and again, unverified, but I've heard numerous times that, um, healthcare is the second most regulated industry.
Second only to nuclear. Right. And, um, man, I'm telling you, I, I can tell you if it's, if. Based on, based on I've never worked in nuclear fire protection. I know, you know, I know several people who have, and, and it's, it's very heavily regulated clearly for a great reason. Uh, but I mean, healthcare is we have hundreds, hundreds of codes that we have to monitor and, and keep up with.
And that's just on the facility side. Um, that's not including, you know, the, the medical side, the clinician side, uh, the infection prevention side, the, I mean, there's, there's so many, so many aspects that, that goes into healthcare. Um, it's incredible. It really is. Um, so the inspection testing and maintenance of it, you know, when is, um, Is critical because the biggest difference in healthcare, I think this is important to note, um, is, you know, we, aren't a standard occupancy, you know, in, in a business occupancy, you know, and I, I like to, I like to go back to kinda like the school kid reference, right?
When you, when the fire alarmer goes off, you exit out of the building, uh, and you all stand out in the parking lot because that's what you do, you know? Um, and that's how it is with most occupancies, but healthcare is a defendant place, occupancy. Um, and what that means is that once, once you enter a hospital, you're now ward under our care.
Um, and that goes for patients that goes for visitors that goes for everybody, we are responsible for the occupants of that building. Um, and we have every floor is required to have a minimum of at least two smoke compartments for us to, um, evacuate horizontally. Uh, within that building, you know, and, and I have only ever heard of a hospital evacuating, like personally in the last few years, at least one time, you know, and it was, it was, um, uh, I won't get into why, but, you know, so we just, we don't evacuate hospitals.
Um, and for just about any reason, the reason why is, is because of the potential increase of harm to the patient. Um, both from an, an infection perspective or just from a, from, uh, for medical reasons, you know, they're in there because they're sick, you know? So, um, everything that we do revolves around, uh, protecting the occupants of the building, um, And because of that though, there's, there's all of these, uh, inspection testing and maintenance requirements that go, that go into managing our buildings and making sure that they remain safe.
And it's everything from, uh, fire door testing to damper testing, to fire, alarm, sprinkler, um, special hazards, you name it. I mean, like, uh, I I've seen all kinds smoke control systems. Um, so all, all kinds of stuff. Um, and it's, it's a blast and it's everything from, you know, passive fire protection. So, you know, using, using, uh, using and training, um, your team and contractors, how to properly use fires stop, which is by the way, one of the like very commonly misapplied, um, you know, uh, so we get to work in the passive fire protection and active fire protection, uh, realms as well.
Um, so I it's a blast. It really is. It's a lot of fun. Um, but it's, it's a lot of work. It's a lot of knowledge. It's a lot of, of. Going back and having to gut check, you know, because, um, there's just, there's, there's so much to remember that it's impossible to remember everything, you know, so, so just knowing where to check stuff.
Oh man. That's that sounds like, uh, that sounds like a lot. I was listening to one of your VI videos recently. I, I think it was the one about standpipes and you were, uh, naming off some additional standards that I'd never heard of. And I can only imagine that those are, uh, standards or inspection testing and maintenance provisions that are from the healthcare specific codes and standards that you're referencing.
So it's pretty remarkable because it's already a complex enough, uh, equation if you're just working with the standard set of building codes and regulations and how that all gets applied. So that's pretty remarkable. I didn't know that about, I mean, it makes intuitive sense that, you know, there are additional healthcare regulations and.
Yeah. I don't know. That's really interesting. Absolutely. Yeah, no, absolutely. And I mean like, I'm, I just opened up, you know, since I'm here at my computer, I just opened up my resource library that I have, and I, you know, I've got over 200, 200 codes and standards in there, so, um, and it's just one of those.
You gotta know where to go. You gotta know you, you, because you just can't, you can't remember everything. Um, but one of the big things that also separates hospitals, uh, from standard business occupancies, is that, or, or just really any occupancy is that we're audited. So we are audited by, um, either CMS, which is the center for Medicaid, uh, and Medicare and Medicaid services, uh, or one of the accrediting organizations, D and V uh, joint commission.
Um, there's HVA Clea. There's a few, there's only four, but, um, and. You know, we're audited, um, regularly, depending on, depending on which one you follow depends on how often you're audited, but, uh, and it's, it's brutal. It really is. I mean, they, they go through the, the, the gamut of, um, like for, for our largest hospital, it's a, um, three day life safety survey.
It's they go, they poke their head above ceiling. They go through all of our records it's um, and we have to have every, all of our I dotted or Ts crossed. And, and if we don't then, um, you know, almost always, uh, you know, we're able to resolve it. Uh, but I've heard of, I've heard of several hospitals and, and, and reports and stuff where, uh, funding has been reduced from, from government resources because, uh, CMS actually is, is the, the deemed authority that authorizes, you know, uh, payment for Medicare and Medicaid services, which depending on, on, um, On where your, where hospitals located can be up to 80% of the funding for the hospital, you know?
So, uh, it's significant, you know, it's, it's, uh, we're talking, you know, healthcare's a multi-billion dollar industry, um, and you know, making sure that we have those re and we operate with very, very small margin. So us keeping our hospitals in check and up to the protective standards of the codes, right.
They, all of the, all of the organizations all just tie back in some way or another to a code or standard somewhere. So as long as you're, you're maintaining your equipment properly, then you're okay. Yeah. That's, that's uh, interesting. The auditing aspect of it. I, I didn't know about that, but it seems like it adds a, a different, um, factor into the mix for having to ensure that you're not only code compliant, but the record keeping and some of those things that in standard commercial occupancies are not, you know, you might have trouble finding to.
Uh, traditional business buildings, you know, records of their fire suppression or fire alarm or their, you know, whatever smoke and fire partitions. But, uh, I imagine that that's not something that happens in healthcare and that you guys are very on top of, um, record keeping and just the whole process of, uh, management of change and, uh, those type of things.
But that's pretty fascinating. It is. Yeah. And it's, we are, you know, we're better, I would say we're better than, than, um, standard occupancies of course, but we still have a long way to go, you know, and that's, that's a lot of what the videos and stuff are for, you know, I gear them, uh, towards other hel healthcare facilities because, because of the auditing and the compliance and, and the importance and, um, so yeah, yeah, that's, that's really fascinating.
So I wanted to hear a little bit more about, I, I. I think I get a little bit of, you know, uh, what your role is as a, you know, kind of somebody who develops programs for ITM and healthcare compliance. But yeah, I just wanted to, I'm fascinated by professionals who are, you know, have found their own way to, to make their own business and fire protection and be successful.
So, yeah. I just wanted to hear a little bit more about what you're doing at legacy FM and, uh, yeah. Where you guys are, are going with the business. That's really cool. Yeah. Awesome. Very cool. Um, it's, it's my, uh, it's my, um, my other passion. So fire protection is, is, is one of my passions, right? And my other passion is education and training.
Um, and I, my, my wife, my, and co-founder, uh, started the company. Um, she came to me and said, Hey, you know, She's was heavily plugged into healthcare and to facilities management as well. And, um, and she's like, I wanna do this. This is, this is something that, that needs to happen in the industry. Um, passionate about it.
She's developed training and education programs before. Um, and I, you know, I was like, yeah, let's do it. You know, we've, we've talked about it a couple of times and, and just pulled the trigger and said, let's go. Um, so, and what we do is we, we go into hospitals, uh, and, and Mo well, step back. So most of the education and training within, within hospitals, uh, is geared towards the clinical side.
Um, oh, almost all of it. Right. So, and, uh, and for a good reason, um, you know, if you, if you had a doctor or a nurse, uh, you know, that was taking care of you would, you would expect that, that they are, um, highly educated and, and continuously trained to make sure that they're doing the right things. Right.
That's, it's very important. um, and then the level of facilities, managers, or directors of facilities, um, you know, they get a lot of their education through, through Ashe, um, or through other organizations in FPA. There's a, you know, and there's a few others, but, uh, but the facilities technicians are, it's very difficult to reach them because you know, their number one facilities management is a cost center.
All, all, all we are is a cost to the hospital. We don't generate any income. Right. Um, which makes it very difficult. We are an operations center. Um, but we are just as critical and important as the doctors and nurses within the hospital, because we keep the building running. We keep the lights on. We there's a lot of regulations geared, geared towards like temperature and humidity and operating rooms that we have to maintain and, and, and take care of, which is completely unrelated to fire protection, but there's, uh, there's a whole, there's a whole gamut of stuff that, that we have to verify, uh, to make sure that the atmosphere that we are providing for, uh, patients is, is a, is a healing one and it's geared towards their healing.
Right. So, um, and, but reaching that level of technician from an education perspective is very difficult. Um, the average technician is over 50 years old. Uh, we don't have a whole lot of people entering technical trades. Um, and, and I'm a huge, huge proponent because of my, uh, trade background and, and what it's done for me.
Um, you know, I look at things differently because of that. Um, if I, if I didn't ever work in a trade, then, then I'm, I'm not sure that I would be where I am today. Um, and, and I take that, I take that very serious. And I love giving back, um, giving back to the trades. I love, I mean, they're, those guys are good as gold and girls are good as gold.
Um, and they'll do just about anything for you and, and, you know, it's amazing to, to see how they can walk up to something and, and figure out and solve, solve an issue. Uh, you know, in a matter of seconds that would take an average person, you know, normally calling a technician to come and do it, you know, but yeah.
Uh, so, but, so we, we develop these training programs though for these hospitals, um, to reach the technicians because it's very difficult, uh, to maintain a level of compliance. Like I'm the only fire protection engineer at Baptist. There's only one of me, there's other people that are, that are knowledgeable in fire protection, of course, but, you know, I can't be everywhere at all.
Um, 11 of our hospitals over nine campuses at any given time. And that's how it is with all facilities managers, you know, um, the, our technicians are our eyes and our ears. Um, they're the ones that are out there talking to nurses. They're the ones that, you know, the more that we can train them on, on code issues and compliance issues and, and why it's important and how, uh, infection prevention is critical in hospitals, you know, from that's, that's a whole nother topic, but, um, you know, the more that we can train them on that and, and help them understand and see the importance of it, um, it, then the better our hospital's going to be.
Um, and that's what, that's what our company does is we actually develop these, these training and education programs. We. Um, align it to their, uh, job descriptions specifically, um, come up with what we call a competency matrix. So that way all training is tied back to a core competency on their job descriptions, um, help develop succession planning mechanisms with HR departments develop the actual training, uh, for the hospital system.
Uh, our goal, we offer online training, uh, as well. Um, but our goal is to do, uh, train the trainer. You know, we want this to be a sustainable model for the hospital for years to come. Um, and then we do, uh pre-assessment and, and post assessment and recurring assessments to make sure that knowledge is retained, you know?
And, and, um, one of the things I like to say is that we, you know, we're, we're, we don't really care about the education and training. We care about the retention and the results and what we've seen though, you know, it's, it's funny, you know's. We tell people all the time, we're actually not a, uh, education and training company at all.
Um, and we are an empowerment company. Um, we believe in empowering people through education and training. It just, it just so happens. That's our vessel to do it. Right. Um, we want people to do their, to, to have the knowledge, so they're able to do their best and give back to, um, society and to their hospitals and facilities and all of that.
Yeah. That's, uh, I like that piece about retention and, you know, uh, keeping this knowledge base and having a succession plan because, uh, you know, it's, it's, I'm sure it's hard. It sounds like already, it's hard enough to get these technicians who are qualified and the work is very technical and difficult.
And then also, you know, needing to keep this knowledge base. Keep your technicians, um, up to date on their training. And yeah, that's really interesting. I didn't, uh, I didn't realize that all that's all that some of the services that you guys are involved with with legacy FM, that's very interesting. I wanted to hear a little bit about, I see that you're on a couple different committees for, um, the NFPA, um, standards or codes and standards, uh, specifically applying to, uh, healthcare.
Yeah. I'm really fascinated about the codes and standards development process. Yeah. I'd love to hear about that. Yeah, absolutely. Um, I love it. I love, I absolutely love codes and standards development. Um, I think that, that, and it's, it's even, it's gotten me to the point where I actually now, um, uh, read the federal, uh, registrar, you know, for submission to, to CMS as well, because what drives, um, But I'll get into that.
So , uh, it's, it's a, I actually sit on, um, I think five NFPA committees. Um, and I also sit on the healthcare codes and standards review committee, uh, which, which is basically kind of, uh, I think, I think the phrase is like where the watchdog of, of healthcare codes and standards. And, um, we, we keep an eye out for, uh, changes that are coming and looming.
Um, and man, some, I, I was very blessed. Somebody got me involved in this and, and I just, I dug right in, you know, and it just really, um, when they, when they heard kind of like my story and, and, and background of why, why I love this, you know, I, I hate, I hate when, uh, codes and standards are developed because of a tragedy.
I mean, we've had, we've had so many, um, fires, you know, they're all over, all over the news, uh, you know, um, Beirut and, and Notre Dame and, and, um, all of these, all these terrible tragedies where, uh, you know, we implement, um, codes and standards after the fact, um, because of those and some of 'em are UN unpreventable, you know, but, um, you know, many of them, uh, you know, we sacrifice human life before we take it seriously.
And, um, you know, that's codes and standards development is that's our chance to change it. You know, that's, that's where, that's where we can stand up and every single person can make a difference. Um, you know, any member of the public, uh, it, it doesn't have to be a fire protection engineer. It doesn't, you don't have to be on a committee.
You can submit public input and you can drive. Um, and, and that's what I love about it is that everybody has a voice in, in that you can be heard. Um, and you know, I just love the whole history of it. Like I, I got, I was fascinated, um, and did a ton of research on how, um, the safety to life committee was formed, uh, after, after the, um, the triangle shirt waste fire in New York.
Um, and that's what really got me like, like loving all of this was, was, you know, in the beginning, um, you know, I, I like to say, like, there are a whole bunch of people way smarter than me that decided to form this committee, um, to save lives, you know, and, and man that, I got a ton of respect for that. I do.
Um, but. Not everything that that was input in the code had scientific reasoning behind it. Um, some of it is there's no scientific basis, uh, to it. And a great example that that I like to use is, is, um, the smoke compartment change, uh, in an FPA 1 0 1. You know, we, we used to, uh, only be able to do, um, 22,500 square feet, uh, for smoke compartments and, and in the, the, the 2018 edition of code, um, we are now able to do 40,000 square feet.
Um, , you know, do you know where the, the 22,500 square foot comes from? No idea. Yeah. So, uh, the committee, and I don't know when it was, you know, but it was, it was years ago, the committee, uh, back then was made up of, of, uh, primarily men. And what they did was they said, well, we need to separate out these smoke compartments and well, what size should we use?
So what they did was they, um, took every, every man of the committee and made them hold their breath and walk as far as they could. Well, the average was, uh, 125 feet. So we used a smoke compartment size of 125 feet by 125 feet, which was 22,500 square. So, and, uh, yeah, and you know, there's no scientific evidence there clearly at all.
Right. So, um, that doesn't mean that it's not a great idea. Right. But now we have scientific evidence and now we have, you know, so one of the big things that, that I try to push, um, when we're, when people are proposing changes is okay, what, what's the scientific reasoning behind that? Um, unfortunately there's a lot of manufacturers, uh, that really take advantage of this from a profit perspective, you know, they'll go out and put things in there.
Um, that don't make any sense. Um, but it's just, and, and it's kind of this, this, and luckily, you know, w people are getting smarter, um, and, and kind of wing up to it, but, you know, they'll put it in there, um, and make it specific. Like somebody will say, oh, well, we have to do this, this specific UL system, you know, has to be UL listed to this.
And there's only one, one manufacturer that makes it right. Well, , you know, we can't do that. I, I, I don't, I mean, it's. Sometimes things like that get voted in. Right. But, uh, you know, it's, it's what takes people putting up a fight for what's right. Um, and, and that's what, that's, what I love about the codes and development process is that anybody can do it.
Anybody can, anybody can say this doesn't make any sense and it needs to be different. Yeah, I think that's a good point having stuff that's so sourced through one UL listed process is, uh, it sounds like not a, uh, not a good thing, not a competitive environment, not that's right. An environment for, you know, systems and technology that is sustainable and, uh, you know, has life safety first and foremost.
But, uh, yeah, that's, that's interesting. It's a lot of fun. It is. I mean, and, and luckily I'm able to be heavily involved. I sit on Ashe's regulatory affairs committee as well. Um, and I'm able to be heavily involved in kind of like the research processes, uh, at, on how we're doing this. And, and because I have such a large healthcare system that, that I do life safety for, I'm able to provide a lot of data as well.
And, um, so a good example of that is like, you know, something that doesn't make any sense to, to healthcare specific is monthly fire extinguisher checks. Um, in, in five years, I've had eight failures on my fire extinguishers and that's it eight and it's taken me, uh, an entire FTE over five years. Not, not each year, but you know, a fifth of his time is dedicated to checking fire extinguishers for eight failures.
Right. Well, if we're in an industrial environment or a more corrosive environment, then yeah. You know, I may need to do monthly or even weekly, but code says that bare, like the minimum I, I can go is, is monthly. Well, I'm spending a ton of time and effort to check extinguishers that, um, it doesn't make, it doesn't make any sense for us to check, right?
Because now we have scientific evidence backing it. So that was actually proposed for the most current current edition, uh, of N F P a 10, um, is, Hey, we wanna, we want to make some changes to this specific for, for healthcare. So, um, it's really fun being involved in that, that whole process though. And I highly encourage others to.
To, to jump in and do it. Yeah. It's cool that we live in a time where we can make data driven decisions about fire protection and life safety. And we don't just have to have anecdotal, uh, rule of thumb knowledge, uh, guide what is right for codes and standards, but that's, uh, that's really interesting. So I wanted to, I know we talked about it a little bit in the beginning of the interview, but I wanted to talk more about, um, your instructional videos that you've been doing, uh, for those who don't know about the kind of videos that you've been putting out, you know, uh, yeah.
Maybe give some people an idea of what you've been doing on, on social media and kind of the, the goal or, or what's been going on with your videos. I've been really enjoying them well, that's awesome. Thanks. Thank you. Um, so yeah, I just, I started, I don't even know like really when it started, um, but.
Somebody said, Hey, you should do a video on that. You know? And it was something, it was something, I don't remember what my first one was to tell you the truth. Um, but , and it, it started out, you know, they started out pretty rough and, and I've learned a lot, uh, since then, but, um, you know, it's everything that all the videos that I'm doing are all, are all related either to fire protection or towards healthcare facilities management.
Uh, and it's, it's like day to day stuff that, um, somebody may not know. And it's something, you know, a big part of it is, is things that I've learned, uh, as I go along or things that, you know, somebody sends me questions now. Uh, and I love, I love helping other people research and find the right answer. Um, you know, so, and I'm like, look, if, if somebody's asking or if I'm asking right, then there's gotta be others out there who are asking or need to know this.
Uh, and it it's been, some of 'em have been kind of simple. Um, you know, and some have been more complex, you know, but I love taking complex topics of what people think are, are these big, scary, like fire alarm program is a great example. You know, like, so many people think this it's just this kind of like terrifying, uh it's oh, it's the fire alarm program.
And it's just, no, it's really, really simple. It's just if then equations, right. That's all it is. It's if this happens, then these things need to happen downstream to make sure that we've got a, a protective atmosphere. Um, but you know, just taking these, these, these topics and, and kind of breaking it down and showing people, you know, code doesn't, isn't always the best at like this kind of visual representation.
Right. Of, of understanding, um, how to do it, you know, they're great at writing out the steps. Um, so are manufacturers, but, but the visual component of that, you know, some people. Some people need to see it in action and see that it's not this daunting task and see that, you know, here's, here's how you can do it.
And I love, and I love taking those, those opportunities. Um, and a big part of it came from developing our ITM program for our hospital system. Um, you know, we're, we are, as far as I know, at least we're the only hospital system in, in the nation right now that does integrated, um, system testing, uh, which is required, um, by, uh, for high rise buildings, uh, by one once adopted at least by NFPA 1 0 1 20 18 and the newer edition coming out to the 2021, um, and integrated system testing is, you know, in the past, ITM has always just been individual systems.
You know, we're going to test, we, we send out somebody to test, uh, sprinkler systems to NFPA 25. We send out somebody to test, um, uh, Portable extinguishers to NFPA 10 fire alarm systems to NFPA 72 fire doors to NF P 80, so on and so forth. Right? Well, integrated system testing is, is where the fire alarm system really comes in.
You know, it's the web that connects everything together. Um, you know, if, if I need to close these smoke doors, when this smoke detector goes off, then I've got a fire alarm relay downstream, um, you know, tying all of that together. So, you know, kind of breaking all of this down in these videos and showing people, um, how to like how to do it, the proper ways to do it.
Um, common, common issues that, that I've seen, or that I've heard of, um, in the industry, sometimes we're talking about the contracts, uh, the contract language. Um, sometimes we're talking about, uh, generator testing. Sometimes we're talking about, um, stand pipe, testing it, you know, just kind of it's all over the.
Um, so, but it's just one of those that, that I know that I, you know, some, somebody, somebody in, in college, one of our, one of our professors at OSU, uh, taught me, um, and it was actually professor pat Brock. I don't know if you, you ever got the chance to know him or not. Yeah. I, I know pat Brock, I didn't have him as a professor, but, uh, I did know him.
He's a, he's a legend at okay. State. He is, he is. And he is the, the godfather of sprinkler hydraulics. Um, you know, so, but he taught me, um, you know, if, if you have a question about it, then it's highly likely that somebody else does. Right. And, and I really took that to heart. And I, I, I try to live that, you know, of, of, uh, you know, and, and the thing is, is that so many people comment on my videos and, and improve them, right?
It's not, this is not just me, uh, me out there trying to, to, to do it. There's, there's a ton of. People that comment and say stuff. And I think every single video I've learned something new, either through the research process or through somebody commenting me saying, Hey, think about this. And that's really what it's about.
Yeah, that's awesome. I feel, I feel very similarly about, uh, fire code tech and it's, uh, of course it's awesome. I get to highlight, uh, different individuals and different topics and fire protection and life safety. But yeah, it's a chance for me through every interview, I always get to learn something. And even when I'm, uh, going back and editing the episode, I usually learn something else that I even missed, even though I was the one interviewing at the time.
There's, uh, a lot of wheels spinning. So it's, uh, it's fun to, uh, be a part of putting resources out into the, um, space for professionals. Uh, I think it's as much about individual development and professional development for the one producing the content as those who are getting benefit out of just watching the content as well.
That's pretty special. So I wanted to talk to you about, I think I'd be kicking myself in the pants. If I didn't ask you. About, um, what's been how you guys have been doing in COVID and how, uh, like the pandemic has, has changed things for you in facilities management. I feel like, uh, I, you know, I try to stay away it from COVID as much as possible cuz I'm sure people hear about it every day, but, uh, yeah.
I feel like it has had to have had impact on you in some regard. Right? Huge. Yeah. It's, it's hit the healthcare industry. Um, very hard. I mean, you know, some luckily our hospital system is, is, is, was very financially secure. Um, and, and we're not having issues that some other hospitals are, you know, I've seen, uh, news news stories and things like that, of hospitals shutting down or converting to, um, psychiatric hospitals or converting to, uh, you know, you name it.
And, um, man, it's been very difficult and, and I'm very, you know, we're also very blessed here in Arkansas that we didn't have, uh, we weren't overrun. Like, you know, I've got a really close. Um, who's, who's also a fire protection engineer, uh, up in New York. Um, and his hospital system, he, I mean, he, he was averaging like four hours of sleep a night for like six weeks.
I mean, it was, it was really hard. It was really hard up there. And, um, you know, so, so luckily we didn't have that, that peak here. Uh, but that doesn't mean that it hasn't changed things forever. Right. And, and we're gonna see, we are gonna see, uh, the ripple effects of this, not only just, you know, economically or in all of this, but from codes and standards and all of it for years to come.
Right. And, um, and which is why one of the reasons I I'm advocating so hard for codes because, uh, I mean, I think everybody's seen just a great example is everybody now sells masks, right? Everybody, everybody produces masks and sells masks and sells this, this PPE stuff. Right. And it's, it's become this, uh, financial, this lucrative way for people to.
Money. Well, it's gonna be the same, um, for filters, for air handling units for, um, all kinds of stuff, you name it, right. UV people are gonna try to, to there, there UN there are unfortunately people out there who see this as an opportunity to profit. Um, and they're gonna try to use the codes and standards as that as a way, and a mechanism for them to do that.
Um, and again, if there's scientific evidence and research, then fine, let's, let's do it. But, uh, let's not just do it just because somebody says it's the right thing to do. Um, so yeah, we, we have, there's been, uh, one of the biggest changes in, in healthcare. There's two actually, there's two that, um, uh, well, there's a lot, but there's, there's a few that I like to focus on.
Um, when I'm talking to people, uh, clearly the negative pressure issue, right? One of the things that, that I think is gonna be coming in the codes, um, is the conflict between, um, having. Smoke dampers on at, at all of our shaft locations and things like that. Smoke and fire dampers. When, you know, we have like an active what we'll call pandemic or COVID unit or whatever, right.
It could be the next COVID, um, who knows, but, um, there's this, there's this conflict between the fire side, where we have, uh, a potential for like a faulty alarm closing down, um, air resources, right. Um, for exhaust purposes, uh, and then, or shutting down the air handling unit and keeping that, keeping that going.
The last thing that we want to do is, is contribute to spreading, right? So, um, one thing that we were actually able to do from an ITM perspective, it's called an 1135 waiver from CMS. Um, which means basically that we don't have to follow the code, uh, as long as we properly properly document and do a risk assessment of why.
Right. So we continued actually doing all of our testing and maintenance. For our hospital, except for anything tied to, um, air handling units, serving our COVID areas. Right. So, and the reason why is it's just not worth it. It's not worth taking that chance and that risk, um, knowing that I know that the, uh, the, um, devices were working a year ago.
Right. So, um, and then there's also been a huge, huge increase in, uh, plexiglass in hospitals and hospitals are PRI primarily, you know, um, non combustible or required to be non combustible construction. Um, and so we've had this, this huge increase of, of plexiglass, which, you know, doesn't, it's very hard to find a plexiglass that meets the smoke development, um, or.
Fire fire development, index ratings, right. Uh, flame, flame spread index. And I'm curious how that's going to, to, to change in the codes as well. Uh, and there's several other factors. Of course, you know, we have a lot more vacant spaces. Um, you know, I don't, I think, I think design specifically will forever change for hospitals.
Um, I think these elaborate, uh, lobbies and atriums that, that we're used to seeing in hospitals, the hospitals five years from now. I, I, I highly doubt that we'll see that. Yeah. That's fascinating about the, some of the different, uh, ITM things with the air handling units. I know that we've been, uh, in the process of buildings that I'm designing currently, we're looking at, you know, uh, different.
Like, uh, vestibule slash entry, um, configurations in order to facilitate testing and like, uh, like a room maybe that might be for individuals that could be experiencing symptoms. And so, yeah, it's definitely changing the, the industry irrevocably. It's, uh, it's pretty interesting to hear you talk about, um, some of the impacts you've been seeing, um, for healthcare facilities, but, uh, Josh, I wanna be mindful of your time.
And, uh, I just wanna say thanks so much for coming on the podcast and talking to me about, uh, what you're doing. I think that the work you're doing's, uh, endlessly fascinating and yeah, I hope you keep up the, the videos and the good work, but yeah, I just wanna say thanks, sir. Absolutely. No, thank you for having me.
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.