Koorsen Q&A with Dr. Bradley Howard, Project Manager for Koorsen Fire & Security
Dr. Bradley Howard wears many hats as an employee of Koorsen Fire & Security in Columbus, Ohio. Not only is he a Koorsen Project Manager, but also an appointed Principal Member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) on standards 17 and 17A. He helps write the codes, teach the codes and follow the codes in his daily work.
We recently sat down with Dr. Howard to discuss his varying roles, his many years of experience, and how it all helps Koorsen continue to be a leader in the fire and security industry.
Q: Where did you get your start?
A: My educational background is in life safety, fire protection and engineering. My career began as a fire safety inspector in the state of Ohio from the late 80’s through the early 2000’s. It was in that role that I became more interested in studying building and fire codes.
For the past 13 years, I’ve worked for Koorsen Fire & Security designing and engineering fire protection systems, educating inspectors and fellow employees, and troubleshooting failed inspections. Since 2009, I have been an appointed as a Principal Member of the NFPA standards 17 and 17A. In that role, I attend revision cycles for the next edition, collect & review public input, take part in discussion of changes, and vote to either approve or disapprove the new code.
Q: For those unfamiliar, what is the NFPA?
The NFPA, National Fire Protection Association, is a global organization devoted to reducing damages and losses due to fire, electrical and other hazards. They are known for their 300 codes and standards that provide general guidance for the design, installation and service of fire protection systems. The standards I help administer are NFPA 17, which is on dry chemical, and NFPA 17A, which is on wet chemical fire suppression systems.
The NFPA codes and standards are the beginning point for building design. Next, there is the building code and fire code, which preempt the NFPA codes and standards. If there is anything more specific in the building code or fire code, it nullifies that section of the NFPA standards.
Each state creates their own building code and fire code by picking and choosing codes and standards, usually from the NFPA or the International Code Council. Each state also adds in their own specific requirements and rules. As a result, every state has their similarities, as well as their differences, in their building codes and fire codes.
Q: How does your experience help Koorsen?
It allows us to stay up-to-date with the technology and with the requirements that the code dictates out in the field. My involvement with NFPA gives Koorsen a voice in the decision making process for codes & standards. By the way, we are the only fire protection company in our region that has someone that serves on this NFPA Board. I help write the code, I study the code and I teach the code to inspectors, fellow employees, and Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs).
One role that I partake often in is that of an intermediator when there is a failed inspection. If I see that we have a legal basis to stand on, then I’ll intervene and discuss the situation with the building or fire official on what the code says, while using code references to explain it.. A lot of this is usually due to lack of training for the building and fire inspectors. I also get periodic phone calls from plans examiners for my opinion on a particular issue.
Q: How do you educate your fellow peers?
A: I just recently gave a training seminar for the City of Columbus’s new inspectors. Seminars like this give me and Koorsen the opportunity to build strong relationships with inspectors in our area. It also educates the new inspectors on codes and technology that they may not be completely familiar with, but that I know from past experience, they will face out in the field.
We’ve also invited inspectors and others to Koorsen, where we have experts from leading manufacturers like Honeywell come in to show off new technology and answer any questions. Koorsen also holds seminars every year for local AHJs, which I’ve always had an active role in. I think these outreach opportunities give building and fire officials peace of mind knowing that Koorsen is meeting the full intent of the code with its clients.
Q: Besides keeping up with the codes, how else do you maintain your level of expertise?
A: In the state of Ohio and other states, they mandate that you have at least a Level III NICET certification to design fire safety systems. NICET stands for National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies. They are a third-party testing center that test and certify individuals to help assure quality in the field and industry wide.
Every three years I have to renew my NICET certifications to keep my designer number that’s issued by the state of Ohio Board of Building Standards, which is renewed every year. I am NICET certified in Fire Alarm Systems Level IV (highest level), Special Hazards Systems Level III, and Water-Based Systems Layout Level I.
Q: What’s your favorite part about your role in the industry?
A: Job completion in always number one in my book. When everyone comes together and works together to get the job done right, that’s one of my favorite parts about my job. Last but not least would be teaching my fellow peers in the industry. When I can teach somebody something that they didn’t know so they don’t make the same mistake next time, that’s a rewarding day for me.
As you can see, Dr. Bradley Howard is an invaluable asset to Koorsen, and we are glad that he is part of our great team. It is people like Dr. Howard that have made Koorsen Fire & Security a respected leader in the fire and security industry.
To learn more about how our impressive team of fire and security experts can help protect and secure your business, contact us today. Contact a Koorsen associate online or give us a call at 888-456-8038.