IFSJ Exclusive: Talking Sprinkler with Chris Logan

AEI Cables is asking for further guidance on the application of new measures which make sprinkler systems mandatory in all new high-rise blocks over 11 metres high.

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Chris Logan speaks to IFSJ Editor Iain Hoey about the Fire Sprinkler Podcast

Chris Logan is on the board of the directors for the Canadian Fire Safety Association. He is the Second Vice President of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers Southern Ontario Chapter, Canada and is involved in the Future Leadership Committee with the National Fire Sprinkler Association. He is also the creator of the increasingly popular Fire Sprinkler Podcast. IFSJ sat down with Chris to ‘talk sprinkler’ and find out more about the man behind the microphone.

Where did the idea for Fire Sprinkler Podcast come from?

I started doing the podcast because, I am a sprinkler fitter in the field who moved into the design and project management in a small family business, and I am looking for new ideas and looking to educate myself in more ways than paid seminars. When I started it, there wasn’t a lot of content out there.

With no background in audio, or computers aside from sprinkler design, I started looking into developing a podcast. I made a Facebook page called the Fire Sprinkler Podcast where I asked: ‘if somebody had a fire sprinkler podcast, who would listen?’. I created the page at 9.30pm and the next morning, I had over 100 followers. I realised I now actually had to do this.

My first three or four episodes were just me talking to myself about things in the industry that were interesting and my thought process on different stuff – they were terrible. Then I started having guests on.

I just like talking sprinkler. I’ll talk about that with anybody as long as they’re not filling the industry with negativity. I’m open to everybody’s opinions. I’m more than happy to have the conversation. I just wanted to create something that I was looking for, and it gives me the opportunity to talk to the smartest people in the industry from around the world. It is very selfish of me to do this podcast, because I believe, personally that I get more out of this podcast than any of the listeners do – I might as well be talking to a buddy that I went to high school with except that its only about the industry.

Do you get a lot of feedback or do people have conversations with you online about things you’ve spoken about in an episode?

I’ve actually made a lot of really, really good friends – guys that I knew before I started the podcast in the industry, just sprinkler guys from all over North America – but the relationships have kind of evolved from ‘How are the kids?’ to ‘I saw this problem, this is what I think you need to talk about next’.

People are coming to me with problems that they have looking for solutions – not because they don’t think that they can pick up the phone and talk to [their supplier] but because if they are having a problem, other people are having the same problem, and I may be able to help and benefit the industry in one way.

What are the typical guests that you have on your show?

Lately I’ve had a lot of manufacturers come on and talk about advances in their technology and new product releases. I’m trying to not necessarily move away from the manufacturers but I’m trying to get more sprinkler business people to come on board to talk through their career. I’m interested in speaking to heavy hitters in the fire sprinkler industry and understanding how they went from being a first-year apprentice and moved up the ranks to where they now have their own business. What was that evolution? What did they learn from it?

How often do you release the podcast?

I have been getting a lot of help this year from a lot of manufacturers that are jumping on board with consistent content every other month. They want to provide something to the industry. If I don’t have somebody to talk to, I don’t release an episode. I noticed when I upload regularly, my viewership goes up in leaps and bounds. I do have a fair amount of content from Intersec in Dubai and I’m going to be posting that on the regular. I think I have content probably for the next month and a half.

What are the main issues that people have been speaking to you about?

The big issue that I’m finding in our industry is getting the education out on sprinklers. It has gone a long way in the past six or so years to where people are becoming more knowledgeable on how fire sprinklers work.

Hollywood is doing a better job of depicting sprinklers in a positive note, as opposed to a negative note where the hero lights a lighter next to a sprinkler and then every sprinkler on the building goes off and they’re able to escape. That’s not the way sprinklers work. You’re seeing a lot of education there.

I do still think that there’s a lot of need for improvement. When I go to a customer that doesn’t have a sprinkler system they say ‘Why do I have to? I don’t want this whole building to flood if I have a fire or if somebody burns toast’. As much as it’s gotten better over the past couple of years, I still think there’s a lot of work to do in benefiting the industry and getting that education out there.

There’s a lot of good educational things out there for the layman and the professional – shout out to MeyerFire University, to Joe Meyer who was doing a lot of big stuff in the industry, Drew Slocum from the Fire Protection Podcast, Gus Gagliardi with Fire Code Tech.

Is there anybody else you want to give a shout out to?

I have to thank all of my major guests. My first guest was Drew Slocum from the Fire Protection Podcast – he hadn’t created that at the time, but he was my first guest. We talked about Inspect Point and just talking about the industry in general. He’s actually been a guest on the podcast the most.

Over the past four or five years the podcast has grown a lot, but it remains an expense. Without the support of companies like Reliable and Tyco and Victaulic and Viking, EGF manufacturing, Inspect Point – all of those companies and organisations help me to create a better product and to travel North America and now the world which is insane. I’d also like to shout my family. I’m a third generation sprinkler fitter. My grandfather started the family business that I work with.

Finally, why should our readers listen to your show?

I like to think that the benefit of what I do with this podcast is: I’m a curious guy, I like to learn about the industry. When I have a guest on I don’t script questions, it’s not premeditated. I have guests on from the industry and we talk sprinkler.

One of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten in my life was somebody who said that the podcast is giving everybody a behind the curtains peek of the conversations that are happening in sprinkler contracting offices, in schools, and on job sites. It lets everybody be involved in on these conversations that may not be privy to these conversations otherwise.

When a salesman comes into an office and the designer and owner are asking questions, ‘You’ve got this new product, why should I use this?’ All of a sudden it ends up on a job site with that fitter not understanding why this product is better and they’re left questioning ‘Why are we doing this instead of the way we’ve always done it?’ One of the most dangerous phrases in the English languages is ‘We’ve always done it this way.’

Anybody that has any topics or questions about the fire sprinkler industry, or if you’re interested in supporting the podcase feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

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