Dec 28, 2020
Lynne Kilpatrick has spent over 30 years in hazardous materials compliance and code enforcement. In this episode of Fire Code Tech, we discuss how to bring stakeholders together for a unified approach to hazardous materials compliance. Lynne also introduces her latest endeavor, which includes developing a web application to streamline material classification.
Would you talk about the genesis of your career and education?
How did you get into your career in fire and life safety? 4:20
Would you speak about some of the reports that you would write in your first role? 7:30
Tell me a little about how you got started in your role with hazardous materials? 9:30
What qualifies something as a hazardous material? 14:40
What all codes and standards have you worked with in your career with compliance? 17:50
Would you speak about the dialogue between hazardous materials professionals and the authority having jurisdiction? 22:15
Can you speak about your take on Energy Storage Systems and how they are being addressed? 28:00
Do you have some pro tips for addressing hazardous materials in the built environment? 31:35
Would you tell me about your HMEx Assistant and what you are doing with the program? 34:45
What trends in the fire and life safety industry do you see? 40:15
You spoke about remote fueling as a developing hazard, would you elaborate upon that? 43:10
What resources would you recommend to professionals who want to learn more about fire and life safety? 46:45
Hello, all welcome to the show. I'm Gus Gagliardi, and this is fire code tech on fire code tech. We interview fire protection professionals from all different careers and backgrounds in order to provide insight and a resource for those in the field. My goal is to help you become a more informed fire protection.
Professional fire code tech has interviews with engineers and researchers, fire marshals, and insurance professionals, and highlights topics like codes and standards, engineering systems, professional development, and trending topics in the industry. So if you're someone who wants to know more about fire protection or the fascinating stories of those who are in the field, you're in the right place.
Hello. All welcome to episode 19 of fire code tech. In this episode, we have Lynn KPA. Lynn is a fire and life safety professional who has spent her career in code enforcement. Lynn's career specialty is in hazardous materials. In this interview, we get into some different pro tips for people who are in the business of dealing with hazardous materials, Lynn discusses her career and how she has been involved.
Addressing regulations from a wide variety of codes and standards as well as department of transportation considerations, Lynn and I also talk about her most recent endeavor. With her work with HME X assistant, a hazardous materials database that she has integrated into a web-based application. Lynn is very insightful and has a lot of great information for those who are involved in chemical and life safety.
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Well, hello, Lynn, welcome to this show. I'm so happy to have you on how are you doing today? Hi, I'm good. It's great to be here. Thanks for having me. Cool. Cool. So usually how I like to get started is, um, let the listeners know a little bit. Background on your career. Uh, I understand that you have, uh, a history in chemical engineering and, um, uh, being a fire marshal and some other works, uh, in and around that sort of, uh, engineering.
Uh, I'd love to hear about that. okay. Well, um, I guess just broadly, uh, yeah, in college, I, uh, took a, you know, organic chemistry class found. I liked it. I was pretty good at it. And, uh, obviously like anyone else in college wanted to make sure I was. Employable with whatever degree I, I got. So, uh, I decided to, uh, take on chemical engineering and, uh, it was a really great decision in the end.
Yeah. I could see that, uh, I have an affinity for, um, chemistry and yeah. So I understand that draw towards. You know, uh, chemical engineering, uh, did you always have an affinity for, um, the science and math and things like that? not at all. that's, that's, what's so funny about it is that I don't think I really, you know, felt like I had an affinity in that area when I was in high school.
It wasn't until I kind of got to college and really explored with different classes and, you know, took a few math classes, took a few chemistry classes and, you know, all of a sudden I sort of realized, uh, I did have an affinity for that. So yeah. Very interesting. You picked a, one of the most difficult engineering disciplines out there, so that's a kind of unique one to stumble into I agree.
I agree. Huh? Very interesting. Awesome. So, uh, you went to college for chemical engineering and then, uh, yeah. So how did you find your way into, uh, fire protection and life safety? Did you have internships or yeah. What was the path that kind of led you. . Yeah, I can, I can explain that. So, uh, I, I didn't have any internships right.
Outta college. Uh, I was hired by an environmental consulting firm, uh, in the Seattle area. And, uh, so I started there as a very, you know, very junior employee in the, in the business. Um, and I was there about a year and a half and I learned some amazing, uh, skills. They had a lot of government contracts and there was a lot of.
Um, a lot of writing of reports by multiple authors. So I got exposed to technical editors, um, and learned some pretty amazing skills that I carried with me. But after about a year and a half, they started to have some financial difficulties and thought they might be laying off some folks. So, uh, I assumed I would be one of the first ones to go since I was one of the most recently hired.
So I started looking around for new employment and, um, found a. Advertisement, uh, in those days, uh, in the newspaper , um, the Seattle fire department was, uh, looking for a chemical engineer, uh, or chemist, I guess either one of those degrees would've sat, satisfied their, their request. Um, but anyway, I applied for a position with the Seattle fire department, uh, never having seen a fire code, uh, you know, N not really understanding very well what a fire.
Code was and what I would be doing for that department. Um, but it turns out I just, you know, really got lucky. I feel like I got very lucky, uh, landing that position. Um, it was, uh, when the, uh, article the, then article 80 in the international or the uniform fire code. Went from about five pages to 55 pages.
So the Seattle fire department was contemplating how they were going to deal with that. Um, and so they wanted to start a new program in their fire prevention division that. Focused on hazardous materials and would give them the, you know, the, the resources to enforce those new provisions. Uh, so they were, uh, out looking for, uh, someone who could provide that technical expertise.
Uh, and I got very lucky at that time. So that's how it all began. wow, that's fascinating. Yeah. I'm not aware of article 80. Um, and what that means as far as the fire code, but that's very fascinating. You're speaking of, um, your origin story and how you made your way into fire and life safety. I find that really interesting.
I appreciate you sharing that. Yeah. Um, so yeah, so you had your first job and you were speaking about these reports that kind of piqued my interest. So what kind of regulations or. Uh, things. Were you basing these reports on when you were writing these, uh, reports initially for this environmental, uh, engineering, um, consulting firm that you were working for or.
So, so primarily, uh, that consulting firm had, um, a lot of government contracts and, uh, they were working on some Superfund sites. Um, and my role in responsibilities, uh, there was a Superfund site, uh, in the Seattle area on Harbor island. Uh, and we were essentially evaluating the previous. Facilities on that, uh, site that had either, you know, used or handled hazardous materials and evaluating, uh, whether or not they.
Might have contributed, uh, to the contamination that was at the Superfund site. And so we would, you know, basically be looking at, uh, their operations or their past operations. Most of them had, you know, long been out of business. Um, but we would look at what they were handling and then we were ranking.
each one with respect to, uh, they were considered potentially responsible parties and we would sort of rank them with respect to, you know, what the likelihood was that they had contributed. Um, so those reports were, um, you know, just kind of ongoing and yeah, so it was, it was, it was interesting work that's for sure.
Oh, wow. I like hearing about that. That's fascinating. Yeah. I don't have any personal experience. Super fun sites are things of that nature. So, yeah, it's a fascinating role. It sounds like you had, so I wanted to transition, um, a little bit and, uh, talk about, um, yeah, your role at the Seattle fire department and you know, what kind of your job looked like in being employed with the Seattle fire department and how you.
Kind of got incorporated into your work with hazardous materials and, and what that looked like. Uh, yeah, I'd love to hear about. Okay. So, like I said, the Seattle fire department at that time, uh, most jurisdictions and, um, many states, uh, in the west had adopted the uniform fire code, uh, and the uniform building code that sort of go hand in hand, uh, and in the fire code, there's, uh, a chapter, there was a chapter that dealt with hazardous materials and, uh, at that time the chapter had been.
Uh, significantly revised. Um, and this was all around the time when, uh, in Silicon valley, there was a lot of high tech, there was a lot of semiconductor work starting. There was sort of some, you know, new hazardous materials, uh, that were. Uh, being handled and used, uh, prevalently in many jurisdictions, uh, and there was a need to update those regulations in the fire code.
So they expanded that chapter tremendously and most fire departments, including Seattle, um, really didn't know, or, you know, even have, they, weren't just, weren't equipped to deal with those regulations and how, if they were going to be responsible for enforcing them, how they were going to do that. Um, so.
Role at the Seattle fire department initially, uh, was really to develop a program. Um, everything, I mean, from all of the resources that we might need, the staffing requirements, um, the training requirements, um, and I. Pulled together. It was, it was really quite fun. Cuz I got to essentially develop a program, uh, from ground zero.
Um, and you know, we presented it to city council and said, you know, if you are going to expect us to enforce these regulations here in the city, then you know, we need resources to do that. Um, and so we were successful and uh, we hired. I shouldn't say we hired, we drafted, um, a couple of lieutenants and about seven, um, firefighters because the Seattle fire department at that time, uh, we were using sworn personnel to basically do those, uh, hazardous material inspections.
Uh, so, um, Yeah. So I started, uh, a program and was fortunate enough to be able to, you know, basically be the supervisor of that, of that group, of, uh, individuals. And, uh, it was everything from, you know, code enforcement, uh, to permitting, you know, designing a permit program. Temporary and annual permits, uh, training the inspectors, um, you know, deciding how our enforcement program would go.
Um, as well as, um, in some jurisdictions and in Seattle, uh, they amend the, uh, State adopted code and add local amendments. Uh, so at that time we had a fire code advisory board. It was about a 15 member board, um, of, you know, that represented the community different business, um, segments as well as the public, uh, and any local amendments that we'd.
Wanted to adopt and, and draft and incorporate into the, into the state code. Uh, we had to first get clearance from the fire code advisory board. So I would liaison with the fire code advisory board, and then we would, um, bring those local amendments, um, to the city council for adoption. Um, so there was a lot of code development work, uh, associated with that as well.
And then obviously, you know, we would liaison with the operation side of the house, uh, if there were. Hazardous material incidents. Um, and they needed some technical support. Um, there was also the, you know, whole, um, I wanna say, you know, plan, review and, um, Predesigned conferences with developers and architects and folks who wanted to, you know, build new buildings, uh, where hazardous materials were going to be involved.
Uh, so the role was very, very broad , um, lots of activity and, you know, lots of, uh, different things to do, uh, just related to hazardous materials. That's remarkable. Yeah. It sounds like you really got to experience the full gamut. Uh, hazardous materials and interacting with those in the built environment and also, um, in more of a hazardous materials, incident capacity.
And so, yeah, that's extremely fascinating to hear about, um, you speak about your career and your role in being a part of a program and building a program from the bottom up. So, wow. That's fascinating. I love hearing about that. Yeah, maybe just for the, the layperson or somebody who's not, um, extremely aware of hazardous materials and what all that encompasses.
Maybe you could go over, uh, kind of. What qualifies something as a hazardous material or, you know, what does that look like in the context of, uh, your role that you had with the Seattle fire department? Yeah, sure. So hazardous materials can be, you know, that that term is used can be just extremely broad.
Uh, in the context of the fire and building code and the enforcement of, you know, those rules and regulations, um, essentially you can break them down into sort of two broad categories, those hazardous materials that have physical, that present a physical hazard. Like they are flammable. Or they are water reactive or they are explosive, or they have oxidizing capabilities, things that can, you know, um, a hazard that would present a physical hazard.
Um, and then there are health hazards, um, materials that qualify as health hazards. And that can be very broad. Uh, the, the fire code currently, um, focuses on the more. Health hazards like something that is toxic or highly toxic and corrosive. Um, the code used to actually go into regulating some of the more chronic hazards like.
Carcinogens and, uh, you know, irritants and sensitizers and radioactives it no longer covers those types of materials. It has narrowed its focus on the more acute health hazards. Um, so right now the fire and building code really do, you know, sort of narrow the field in terms of hazardous materials. With respect to things that can either present a physical or health hazard, uh, an immediate physical or health hazard.
That's great. I love that explanation. Yeah. Um, it's always like, uh, hearing from the experts about the description of these things, because, you know, even though there are definitions in the building code, sometimes I can find that it's a little bit hard to, uh, get the idea of how to define these chemicals.
There can. You know, sometimes it's difficult, you know, of course when with the flammable and combustible, liquid there's clear and defined thresholds for these chemicals, but with something, um, like a oxidizer or a corrosive or a caustic material, sometimes it can be a little bit more difficult to suss out if you have a problem.
I guess it's just comes from some of the testing methods and how these get tested and verified for how these chemicals are hazardous or not. And yeah, I don't know. It's just a comment on, um, the difficulty of dealing with these materials. It is it is a challenge. That's no, no doubt. So, yeah, I know that we've talked about the building code a little bit.
Also, I just wanted to ask about if you had experience, um, during your role dealing with, um, hazardous materials, transportation, or any of those other, uh, like OSHA related, uh, federal standards or was it mostly just a built environment? That you were concerned with a little of all of that. Um, so the department of transportation, obviously, you know, regulates commerce, you know, interstate commerce.
Um, but there's also transportation, you know, within a facility. Uh, and I had a lot of experience with that in Seattle. Uh, it being a. Um, you know, a, having a Marine terminals and a port city. Um, so we dealt with hazardous materials coming across the Marine terminals, um, very frequently. And we had a, a Lieutenant who was dedicated just to dealing with the hazardous materials, uh, at the Marine terminals.
Um, and so we would regulate, you know, where the materials could be stored on the terminal itself. So the department of transportation, uh, certainly was involved in, uh, those activities, um, as well as, you know, some of the regulations in the fire code relate to, uh, tank vehicles and transportation and loading and unloading of tank vehicles.
Um, so some of that would come into play as well. Uh, when you were regulating, um, You know, a bulk, uh, petroleum facility, for instance, that had loading and unloading facilities. Um, and some of those tank vehicle regulations. Uh, so the transportation, even though it's, you know, regulated by D O T uh, you still did as a part of our.
We still did as a part of our role, you know, have to be very cognizant of those regulations and how they sort of played into the fire and building code regulations as well. Um, so yeah, and obviously, um, any of these other federal regulations, you know, the OSHA regulations, the, you know, most of these facilities.
Had to comply with all of these other federal regulations. Uh, and in my role in Sunnyvale, um, the state of California has a very unique program, uh, where local jurisdictions, uh, can essentially, um, agree to enforce some of those environmental rules, uh, as a part of their. Program. Uh, so we were, you know, partly responsible for, uh, enforcing, uh, some of the sort of local waste regulations, uh, some of the local clean air type regulations for accidental releases from these, from these facilities.
Um, So, yes. So you do have to, you know, incorporate and at least have some familiarity and be aware of all of these other federal regulations that are impacting the facilities, um, and, and might sort of overlap, uh, with the fire and building code rules. That's fascinating. Yeah. I don't get into as much of the.
Uh, transportation side of things, although is a part of the program that I graduated from. We did speak to, uh, hazardous materials in their, um, treatment and response in a transportation capacity. Of course, the hazard, um, diamonds and different, uh, ways that they are classified in the transportation means and how those.
Different from the way that they're classified in the built environment, as far as, uh, nomenclature, just, uh, hazardous design, right? Um, yeah, but anyways, for my personal interest, since I deal with the, the built environment and I am really interested to hear you talk about how you have experience in like, sort of the meetings with architects and engineers.
I find it to be a exceedingly difficult task to, um, compile these, uh, hazardous materials and the requirements for them. So, yeah. I just wanted to ask you about, um, you know, what one of these meetings with the architect or engineer would look like if you were going to, uh, if they had questions about their hazardous materials compliance or.
Um, you know, what form would it, what form does compliance look like for, uh, architects and engineers for the built environment? Let's say for, uh, a new construction building, you know, if, if somebody wants to be straightforward and, um, code compliant, . Yeah. So, um, often, you know, uh, outside of the general pre-designed conferences, uh, you know, you would meet with the, a group of architects and designers and, and hopefully, um, you know, facility representatives.
So the people who are actually going to be the end users and, and know exactly how the materials are gonna be, um, used and in what quantities. So the starting point for any of this is really know. What you have, how much of it you're going to have and you know, where it's going to be and how it's going to be stored or used.
Um, and, and once you can capture that information, um, then you can really start to navigate through the fire and building code and identify, you know, The fire protection controls are, are going to be needed. Um, so you know, the meetings often, uh, we just have, you know, conversations about exactly. What's going to, um, take place, how they're going to use the materials, how the materials are received, where they're stored, um, how they're handled.
What type of equipment and systems, um, they're planning. Um, and, and most of the time, you know, the facilities that are really serious about this have, have hired, um, consulting firms who have some familiarity. You know, with the requirements. So you're often not having to explain everything from the ground up, but you know, one of the starting points for sure is really capturing, you know, everything that's going to be used and, and being, and understanding all of its hazards, all of the hazards, because many of the materials will present multiple hazards.
So, so that's kind of the starting point. And, um, what's fascinating about some of it is obviously, you know, the code is limited with respect to, um, you know, what it contains. Uh, obviously it's, it, it speaks and directs you very broadly with respect to, um, you know, how to manage hazardous materials by category, but there's often times, you know, no roadmap in the fire code for what it is the facility wants to.
Um, and so, uh, that's when it gets really interesting, that's when it gets really fun, um, to, you know, sort of identify, uh, outside of the context of the code, you know, what, what needs to be in place and what kind of controls are necessary, uh, and reasonable with respect to, you know, what they plan to be doing.
Uh, and a good example of that right now is, you know, um, lithium batter. Um, you know, there's nothing in the fire and building code right now that gives us guidance with respect to what to do with lithium batteries. Um, so every jurisdiction is really, you know, faced with, uh, How they're gonna handle it, you know, coming up with some, some guidelines on, um, you know, the storage and, um, you know, I guess the use as well, these energy storage systems, there is stuff in the 2018 code that's coming out, um, with respect to energy storage systems.
But, uh, when you've got, um, You know, lithium batteries in storage either, uh, you know, newly manufactured or, uh, if you can think of the end of life batteries after these, uh, devices, you know, after we've finished using the devices and the batteries have to be recycled, there's a, you know, there's a, a whole.
Activity going on about, you know, removing the batteries and storing the, the spent batteries, um, and trying to get rid of those. Um, so it's, it's, it's very fascinating. And, you know, like I said, not every activity that the facilities wanna do is really captured in the code currently. Yeah. That's a great point.
I love that point about, um, you know, there are. Portions of the code, which are gray to the point of ambiguity as far as specific, uh, combinations or, uh, types of hazardous materials. And it's been really interesting to see, uh, energy storage systems and the new research that's been put out about energy storage systems and the hazards that they, uh, pose.
Uh, yeah, I, I think I saw you, uh, link the article recently, uh, Energy storage systems that look pretty comprehensive, but yeah, I have a personal fascination about them as well. Uh, I think I was reading something about FM had a new paper or recently about, um, energy storage systems and some of the fire protection and life safety measures for, uh, these different, um, batteries or, uh, batteries.
Isn't the word? Um, assemblies of batteries and how they store energy storage systems is the correct term. But yeah, I find that extremely fascinating. And anyways, yeah, I wanted to ask, what do you see as the future of these, uh, sort of a tangent, but I, it sounds like you've been reading about, um, energy storage systems.
So I I'd love to hear. What you see as the future for these things. And as the building code gets these more fleshed out, what do you see as the likely conclusion or the next steps for defining the hazards for these energy storage systems and. how do we move forward? Well, like I said, um, the 2018 addition to the code has a new chapter, uh, dealing with these energy storage systems.
And, and like you mentioned, there's still ongoing research with respect to how to properly, um, You know, protect these systems. Um, and you know, we're learning stuff new every day. Obviously there was a, you know, there was a fairly recent incident in 2019 outside of Phoenix that, you know, resulted in an explosion and there's, um, and this may be the article that you're referring to, you know, there's.
Uh, some lessons learned, uh, from, from that incident that injured some firefighters. Um, so you know, these technologies, the new emerging technologies obviously present, you know, some, some issues that we don't always have a firm grasp on initially. Um, but with respect to the energy storage systems, like I said, there's, there's some good guidance that's going to be in the 2018 addition of the code.
If you know, if it's not already been adopted. In your local jurisdictions. Uh, and then there's ongoing, um, activity, uh, behind the scenes with the fire code, um, action committees, um, who are dealing with this very topic and, you know, getting together and having work group meetings, uh, regularly to try to, you know, develop the.
What will be the new code, uh, proposals to, uh, modify chapter 12 and update it and improve it. Um, so there's, you know, there's constant activity, uh, going on and, uh, trying to, you know, stay abreast of all of it is, is often challenging for most of us, cuz we've got other things we're doing at the same time.
Um, but yeah, there's, you know, uh, there is just a tremendous amount of work in this area going on, uh, behind the. Hmm. Definitely. Definitely. I understand what you're saying. It's, it's neat to keep up with these new and emerging technologies, but yeah, it's hard to, you can't really stay focused on cause that they're changing so quickly.
Um, yeah. You said something earlier and I, I really thought it was great. A great quote you said was asking you about, um, how do you define these. These meetings or these hazardous materials. And you said, um, knowing what you have, knowing how much of it you have and knowing how it's going to be stored and used.
And I thought that that was a, a wonderful, um, little ha capturing of how to deal with hazardous materials as it, uh, regards to the, the building code. But yeah, I just wanted to. Get back to our talk about hazardous materials and just speak a little bit more about, um, yeah, I don't know. I just, uh, been dealing with hazardous materials a lot recently, and I just want to get some, if you have tips or I know that, uh, the obvious one is to try to capture these qualifications or requirements as early as possible.
But I see, you know, we talked about consultants or professionals who have experience with this, so you're not having to start from ground zero, but yeah, I didn't know if you had any, uh, tips for how to capture these requirements or how to, um, properly deal with these hazards. And I don't know. Yeah. Maybe that's too nebulous, but, well, I do, I do think that, you know, if you put some framework around it and, and this is what I've always had to do, um, at least from my vantage point for a code official to, you know, be able to evaluate what's being proposed.
Um, you know, I can't tell you how many times I've had to turn away plans at the counter or turn away. Um, you know, consultants who were there to, to get over the counter permits, uh, because there just wasn't sufficient information being provided with respect to the materials, uh, that were going to be used and you know, their hazards.
So it really is, you know, the obligation of the, um, you know, the. The user to be providing the proper information to the jurisdiction so that they can, you know, give the guidance that's needed. Um, but you know, that is the starting point. And like I said, I've, I've had to turn many folks away just because there's just not enough information to do the evaluation.
Um, so, uh, you know, the, the sooner that becomes something that they do at the, at the onset of a project, um, you know, the more likely it is that, you know, that will go smoothly. um, yeah, so, so that's one of my biggest tips is really just, you know, uh, um, and I did say that before, just understanding, you know, what exactly it is that's, uh, going to be used and, and how it's gonna be.
Yeah, that's a good tip. Yeah. It's, uh, it can sometimes be difficult to, um, extract that knowledge of the quantities and the specific chemicals and, um, material, data sheets. But, uh, I find that the larger client, um, as far as employees or the size of the, the company, the more likely it is that they'll have somebody whose position is dedicated to this sort of role of knowing what.
Hazardous materials registry looks like and getting this list of, um, quantities and, uh, compatibility or incompatibility for their register of materials. So, yeah, I think that's a good point. That's always, usually the biggest struggle is trying to find out what it is, what it is that we're storing you. I understand from our conversation before that, um, if you're comfortable with talking about it, That you're working on, um, putting together a tool, a hazardous materials, um, data tool or database, and that you had used in your career, uh, several times or throughout your career.
Um, I'd love to hear more about that. I was really interested when you were telling me. the database and its use and kind of how you're refurbishing it. Um, if you'd tell me about that. Yeah, appreciate it. Yeah, sure. So, um, we were just talking about how it is such a struggle to really identify, uh, how to classify the materials based on the fire and building code definitions, which do differ from transportation, uh, definitions.
And it, it does also differ from, um, any of the OSHA or GS, you know, regulations. We've got with classifying materials. Um, and so for many years, and that's been true for, you know, a very long time. And so most all of my career, uh, I used a, essentially it was a CD that was available. Uh, through ICC the international code council and it was, uh, Hm, E X assistant was the name of the software.
Um, and it was a, like I said, it was a CD. You loaded it on your computer and, um, you know, one time and, and. You were off to the races. Um, but it did classify. You could look up in the database, um, you know, the classification of the materials, you could easily identify whether it was a class two oxidizer, you know, a corrosive, a toxic, a highly toxic.
Uh, water reactive three. Um, like you said, some of the definitions are very prescriptive and they're easy to, you know, use the safety data sheets to sort of find out what the classification is. Um, but some of the definitions are very. Um, you know, they're not prescriptive, they're very subjective. Um, and, uh, trying to figure out, you know, exactly where the material fits into those hazard classes is a challenge.
So this piece of software that I used for 25 years, um, was, uh, you know, um, something I relied on every. Pretty much. Um, and, uh, when I found out that the founder, uh, was no longer, um, going to be updating the information, um, I sort of saw an opportunity , um, to, I didn't want to essentially just fade away to nothing.
Um, so I, I, I purchased, uh, the soft. And I have been, uh, since the end of last year, uh, working to make it a cloud based system, um, and expanding it so that, um, the users not only can look up hazardous materials in the database to find the classifications, but you can actually manage your inventory in there as well.
Um, inventories, as you know, the, to determine whether or not they're over the maximum allowable quantity. That's allowed by the code. Um, you know, you have to know your inventory by control area. Uh, so this software enables the user to essentially evaluate their inventory, uh, and compare with the maximum mobile quantities and see if they're over for control areas, which as, you know, then sort of guides whether or not the occupancy, uh, needs to.
Hazardous group H occupancy or not. Yeah, that's great. I love hearing about that. I'm such a big fan of, uh, technology and even better is where code code nerd. The code nerd to me meets technology. And we can see the advancement of the field through, um, kind of pairing these two things together. So I'm endlessly fascinated with that.
And it sounds like I, a tool that I would love to use. Yeah, I'm really fascinated with that. That's that's pretty interesting. Yeah. It's, you know, it's, it should be useful to code officials. Uh, as I used it for many years, uh, just to, you know, verify and validate, uh, what the, uh, architects designers and, you know, facilities were submitting, um, just verifying and validating that, you know, they had properly classified things.
Um, but yeah, it's a, it can be used by architects and consultants and facilities. Very interesting. Very interesting. Yeah. I talked to another, uh, chemical engineer recently and we were talking about the caveats of, uh, H occupancies and when you need 'em and when you don't and sort of what the different, um, variances are for the different levels of occupancy.
yeah, they can be a pretty costly endeavor. If you happen to exceed maximum allowable quantities for your control areas and find yourself in a situation in which you need to provide a occupancy or a detached structure for your H occupancy. So it sounds like a good thing to know,
but, um, yeah, I think that's very interesting. I'd love to keep in touch about that and. Um, no, as it progresses and, you know, uh, maybe when it comes out, we can let everybody know and I'm sure people will be interested in taking a look at it, but yeah, that's fascinating. Yeah. Great. Um, so I wanted to get into some couple different professional development topics, but, um, I know we.
We just recently talked about, um, energy storage systems, but I wanted to, um, pick your brain on whether, what other trends in the industry you see right now for fire protection and life safety. Well, the trends, um, You know, in terms of, I don't know that there's any, uh, are you talking about emerging emerging technologies or, uh, trends?
Sorry. It really, it could be nebulous really. I just mean like things that you see in the industry as, um, new topics that are gaining popularity. Like when I think of this, I think of. I see a lot for timber. You know, how buildings are tolerant, Toler buildings are being built with timber or energy storage systems, or just some of the new hazards we're seeing as an industry and fire protection and life safety, or I have a special interest in, um, technology or the system side of things.
Yeah. Yeah. So that sort of thing, but yeah, well, well clearly the batteries and the energy storage systems is probably, you know, the, the biggest one, uh, for sure. Um, the, you know, an another one that's been an issue for folks dealing with hazardous materials lately has been, um, Mobile fueling essentially.
um, this has been a, a challenging and debated topic. Um, and there are some relatively new regulations related to, um, mobile fueling using class one liquids. So gasoline, uh, we've we've had for many years in the code, you know, regulations that, that deal with. You know, fueling of class two and three liquids, diesels, and, um, but the mobile fueling, uh, using class one liquids is, is relatively new.
And like I said, fairly controversial, uh, I dealt with the topic, um, as the fire marshal in Sunnyvale. Um, and you know, so the industry is obviously wanting to expand. Maybe what the current regulations allow, which is, you know, allowing that in, um, you know, large sort of parking lots, um, as opposed to, uh, street fueling.
Um, so, so that's probably a topic, um, of interest to most folks that are, you know, sort of involved in hazardous materials. Um, but clearly the, the bad, the battery issue. Um, first and foremost, you know, um, taking center stage. Definitely. Definitely. I agree with that. So when you say mobile fueling, I guess I just don't have a real good picture in my mind of what that is.
Is this like a. A truck or something that's providing gasoline to other vehicles or what is it? Yeah, yeah, yeah. It is. It is essentially, um, you know, fueling from a, from a truck to, uh, your personal vehicle basically. Um, and there's a different models of this there's um, you know, a model that might include, uh, what looks like, uh, a mini tank vehicle, right.
Um, You know, very small and maneuverable through parking lots and built to tank vehicle standards. Um, but there's also the model, which includes, um, you know, they're not even portable tanks, but they're just, uh, containers in the back of a pickup truck, um, that, you know, will. Move around the city and, and essentially, um, and you, you know, there, it, it's very technology driven, right?
You download the app on your phone, you order up the gas and while you're, you know, working during the day, um, you know, they, they come by the parking lot where you may have your car parked and, um, you know, fill your, fill your fuel tank. Um, so, so. Issue and that topic, um, was first addressed, um, in, I believe the 2000 and, um, Oh, it may have been in the 2015 addition to the code, but, uh, the, you know, it's, it's obviously, um, a topic where the industry wants to expand its footprint with respect to, uh, that activity.
So, um, there's task groups and, you know, ongoing work in terms of. You know, what are the safety precautions that need to be taken? And, and, and how can we best allow for sort of that, I guess, emerging, it's not really an emerging technology, but it's sort of an emerging activity. Interesting. Yeah. I've never heard of that.
It sounds like it could be pretty hazardous though. Was, yeah. I just read a good article recently about the hazard, the hazardous nature of, uh, intermediate. Bolt containers or composite IBCs, um, right. How they can, it sounds like one of these vessels that somebody could have in the back of their car and, or in the back of their truck, I should say.
And so you could easily get several hundred gallons of. Class one flammable liquids. And that sounds like, uh, unique. Yeah, they're actually, um, they're actually not using the IBCs, but they're using container sizes, uh, somewhere below about 109 gallons, which is just below the threshold that, um, you know, they actually end up being, uh, regulated.
So, um, and they'll put maybe three or. Possibly four in the back of a pickup. And, um, yeah, so it's, like I said, you know, the, the code is starting to address that. Um, and you know, some jurisdictions may not have actually seen it yet. Um, but I, you know, like I said, it is, it is certainly a, an area of the, um, the code that's, um, expanding with respect to, um, that activity.
Interesting. Well, I appreciate you bringing it up. I hadn't heard of that. Um, So another topic I always like to ask professionals is, uh, are what resources would you recommend to somebody who wants to learn more about, uh, hazardous materials or maybe just fire protection or life safety in general? Well, uh, you know, my biggest resource has always been, um, you know, Getting and staying involved with, um, you know, whatever local organizations you can, uh, if there are local, you know, fire communities, if you're, you know, if you're a code official, um, trying to stay connected, um, with, you know, the training and, and outreach to your other jurisdictions, your counterparts and other jurisdictions.
Um, I have found that to be the, the most. You know, the most amazing resource throughout my career, um, is, is making the connections with other people. I can tell you how many times I've, you know, I've, I've just connected with what I consider to be experts that I respect and just continued to ask questions.
Um, you know, you don't be shy, don't be bashful, but, you know, um, so, so for me, uh, staying involved with. You know, the, the organizations that are sort of dealing with the topics, um, is just, is just the best, you know, resource of all. Um, and it, you know, it can be, uh, lifelong essentially. Yeah, that's wonderful.
I, uh, resonate with that a lot. Um, it feels like to me, that fire protection is a very close knit, fire protection, less safety is a very close. Field and that people are always very willing to share their knowledge and their expertise. Um, if you have a question or topic that you don't know about, and yeah, it seems like also with the authorities, having jurisdiction is even a, a tighter knit group of individuals in that.
Between jurisdictions. There's a lot of cross pollination as far as, uh, policy and procedure, uh, in regards to life safety. So, yeah, I think that's a great tip people, uh, for people to stay connected through groups and organizations. Yeah, I, you know, I think there's a, obviously a lot that you can learn from, from books and, you know, periodicals and, and whatnot, but, um, you know, talking with someone about their experiences and you know, what they learned and, and what they went through and what went right.
What went wrong. Um, it's just, it's invaluable and it's really hard to get that same kind of information from, um, books or online. Sources so, um, you know, I, I am quick to pick up a phone and, and chat with folks who, you know, I, I feel can, can share information with me. Um, and I just encourage others to do the same.
It's it's it's been an invaluable tool. Yeah. It's remarkable. How much time you can spend Googling something or searching through code books or standard books. If you are able to just spend two minutes with somebody who's an expert in the field or has conquered that problem before it can just save you hours of time.
So I think that's a great point anyways. Well, I wanted to, uh, end Lynn with, uh, I wanted to ask you, uh, what do you wish you would've known when you got started at the beginning of your career? Uh, what's one piece of advice that you would give somebody getting into fire protection and life safety right now?
Well, it's almost the same thing, you know, ask people questions and get to know people. Um, if I had to look back, um, obviously I wished I would have known more about. Career in general. Um, you know, from, from the beginning, I, I happened to just sort of stumble across the topic. Um, and it, it certainly was my experience as the fire marshal, that one of our biggest challenges was just finding, uh, folks to hire.
Um, it's just not a field that is, um, you. Uh, well known or well advertised, unfortunately. Um, and I would say it's, you know, as a, as a new person starting out, um, you know, for me, 30 years down the road, uh, honestly it was so fascinating and there was. Barely a day that I didn't learn something new. Um, there are so many topics and so many areas where you can focus and, you know, learn, um, that it just is.
It is just an endless learning experience. Yeah. I agree with you, Lynn. I think that, uh, fire protection and life safety doesn't get the PR it deserves. I think that if people only knew about what a fascinating career and what kind of rich and fulfilling work that, uh, we get to do on a daily basis, I think that people would be flocking to, um, join the end.
But, yeah, I totally agree with you. Well, anyways, I just want to thank you again so much, Lynn, for coming on and talking with me. I really appreciate it. And, uh, I, yeah, I got to learn a lot. Great. By talking to you. Thank you. Yeah. So thanks. It's been fun. Thank you. Thank you. 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.