Monday, August 24, 2015

Collaborative Leadership

The most successful organizations are led by successful leaders.  The most successful organizations are led by, not one, but many leaders.  These leaders form a team.  It is through the collaboration of the members of team that success can be found.  However, working together as a team, especially a team of leadership personalities, is not always easy.  Multiple ideas, conflicting agendas, and varied perspectives can all get in the way of decisions that must be made to ensure organizational success.

Bobsleigh team, by Tyler Ingram

In the book, Teams That Thrive, Ryan Hartwig and Warren Bird describe 5 disciplines required for collaborative leadership.

  1. Focus on purpose.
  2. Leverage differences in team members.
  3. Rely on inspiration more than control.
  4. Intentionally structure the decision making process.
  5. Build a culture of continuous collaboration.
Purpose is the true leader of the organization. Collaborative leadership works when everyone is focused on the organizations purpose, and not personal agenda.

Each team member brings a different skill, different life experience, and different perspective to the team.  Utilize these to make the team stronger and "rounded out".

By maintaining focus on the organizations purpose and team strengths, the team will create its own inspirational force. Rely on this, not command and control tactics.

Make sure all team members understand how decisions will be made.  Follow the same process for every decision.

Do all team members feel that they can discuss issues and decisions openly? Keep this communication line open.  For more on this subject, you must listen to Richard Ryerson's podcast, "No Egos in the Cockpit".

By instituting these five disciplines into our teams and leadership we can finally accomplish what Vanilla Ice always wanted, "...stop, collaborate, and listen".

Monday, August 10, 2015

Determining Alternate Power Needs (for electric pumps)

I was recently involved with a project concerning a structure in which the fire sprinkler flow requirements could not be met with the municipal water supply.  The fix for this is the installation of a fire pump.  In this instance the design called for an electric motor-driven fire pump.  The question to me was, "Is an alternate source of power required? If so, how can it be supplied, and what criteria must be met?"

Photo by, Crawfish Head

NFPA 1, Fire Code, section refers to NFPA 20 and NFPA 1:13.4 for pump installation requirements.  NFPA 1: requires the approval of all pump installations. 

NFPA 20, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection does not “intend to require a backup source of power for every installation using an electric motor-driven fire pump”. [NFPA 20:A.9.3.2(2)]  An alternate source of power is required only under one of the following conditions:
  • Normal power source is not reliable (as defined in NFPA 20:A.9.3.2)
  • Building height exceeds pumping capacity of fire department apparatus
  • No back-up pump is installed
Questions for alternate pump determination:
  1. Is the structure within the pumping capacity of the local fire department apparatus?
  2. Is the electric-motor driven pump connected to a “reliable” power source?
  3. Will a back-up pump be installed?
If it is determined that an alternate power supply is required, the power supply shall come from one of the following:
  • shall be provided with a generator (in accordance with section 9.6)
  • be connected to a power source independent of normal power (in accordance with section 9.2).
If a generator is to be used as the alternate power source its fuel capacity must be sufficient enough to provide 8 hours of operation at 100% of rated pump capacity.

Monday, July 20, 2015

How to Conduct Hydrant Flow Testing

photo by Jens Knudsen

NFPA 25, Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, requires all fire hydrants to be tested and inspected at least annually, and flow tested every 5 years. This applies to all fire hydrants that are on, and within, private property (shopping centers, mall property, parking lots, etc.).

NFPA 25, Table - frequency of inspections for hydrant components

These testing and inspection requirements are the responsibility of the “property owner or designated representative” and must be performed by “qualified personnel”.

NFPA 291, Recommended Practice for Fire Flow Testing and Marking of Hydrants, outlines the proper procedure required to perform the flow test, and the information to be documented.

The required equipment needed for this test is:
  • Flow test kit
  • (2) Hydrant wrenches
  • Hydrant flow test documentation
  • Hydrant number/location map

The flow testing procedure should be conducted, as follows:
  • Position one personnel at the test hydrant, and one at the flow hydrant.
    • Flow hydrant should be located downstream from the test hydrant, or next in line in direction of flow.
  • Attach gauge to test hydrant.
  • Open hydrant; record static pressure reading.
  • Record outlet coefficient size of flow hydrant.
  • Attach pitot gauge to flow hydrant.
  • Open hydrant; record pitot/flow gauge reading (flow for 2 minutes).
  • At test hydrant, record residual pressure reading (should not be less than 20% of flow)
  • Shut down flow hydrant.
  • Shut down test hydrant.
  • Disassemble gauges from hydrant.
  • Hydrant test is now complete.

Document all gauge readings and complete report.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Hyperloop Safety Standard

The Hyperloop is a conceptual high-speed transportation system put forward by entrepreneur Elon Musk. In August 2013 Musk published a 57-page document, Hyperloop Alpha, summarizing his plans for the supersonic Hyperloop that might someday traverse the space between Los Angeles and San Francisco. This report focused on the economics and technology required to build such a system. 

The Hyperloop Alpha document briefly addresses safety and reliability concerns.  The Hyperloop as a new technology has many unique characteristics. These unique traits require specialized knowledge, expertise, and equipment to ensure that this mode of transportation is, indeed, “safer”.

As there does not currently exist a “safety standard” that addresses the Hyperloop mode of transport, it is proposed that a safety standard be created. has started the creation of this document This document is the beginning of this fire protection and life safety standard.  This document outlines specific concerns that should be addressed, and refers to standards that currently exist and can be applied to the Hyperloop.

The Hyperloop Safety Standard is not a fully developed solution. This document is intended to be dynamic. There are safety issues that are currently unforeseen, but will need to be addressed.  This document is intended to be open source so that members of the fire protection, life safety, and emergency services industries can contribute and create a comprehensive safety standard.

Click here to download the current document:  

Click here to to edit and add to the document:  

Our sincere desire is that this safety standard will stimulate discussion and thought on fire protection, life safety, and emergency preparedness features for the future design of the Hyperloop transportation system.