Mission Critical Fire Protection Podcast powered by ORR Protection

Episode 3 - Power Generation Applications with Charlie Johnson

November 11, 2020 ORR Protection Systems Season 1 Episode 3
Mission Critical Fire Protection Podcast powered by ORR Protection
Episode 3 - Power Generation Applications with Charlie Johnson
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In Episode 3 of The Mission Critical Fire Protection Podcast, Lee Kaiser sits down with Charlie Johnson to discuss power generation projects and the future of mission critical fire protection.

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Thanks for joining us. To learn more about mission critical fire protection, visit MCFPexperts.com.

Intro (00:07):

Welcome to MCFP meet the experts where ORR Protections' VP of Engineering, Lee Kaiser, interviews industry insiders on all things mission critical fire protection.

Lee Kaiser (00:20):

I'm here with Charlie Johnson. Charlie's a project manager for ORR Protection, focusing on power generation projects. So Charlie, tell me how you got into the fire protection industry?

Charlie Johnson (00:30):

You know, really by chance. I had electronics background in high school. Went to vocational school for electronics and a neighbor of mine, guy that knew me my whole life, actually works for ORR Safety at the time, and said, "Hey, you should come out here. I don't know what those guys do but I think it's something with electronics. So, you know, maybe you should come out and check it out." And I did. And you know, they kind of fell in love with the industry and just the never ending learning process that this industry provides. And yeah, 22 years later, still doing it, still learning.

Lee Kaiser (01:06):

Oh, that's great. You've been with us for 22 years.

Charlie Johnson (01:07):


Lee Kaiser (01:07):

Wow. And then, so how old were you when you joined?

Charlie Johnson (01:12):

Like 21, 22.

Lee Kaiser (01:13):

Oh, wow. Yeah. Oh that's great. That's great. Yeah.

Charlie Johnson (01:16):

I feel like I will never stop learning. You'll never know at all, but it's just, that's one of the things I love about this industry is it's ever changing and growing and it's just endless amounts of solutions and resources.

Charlie Johnson (01:30):

So in your role, how many different places do you wind up going in the US?

Charlie Johnson (01:33):

Well, currently in my role as a senior project manager for power gen, we cover the entire nation.

Lee Kaiser (01:41):

Do you travel all over?

Charlie Johnson (01:44):

Yeah. Everywhere in the United States. But we've had opportunities even in Puerto Rico, we've had customers calling the Dominican Republic. Rick Reynolds had a call in Spain that we almost had to deploy to. So, I mean, it's a huge reach.

Lee Kaiser (02:01):

Yeah. And why do you think that is? Is there just that many you, know, sites, power generation sites that need fire protection expertise?

Charlie Johnson (02:10):

Yeah, I think that markets grossly underserved. There's a lot of good installation companies but not a lot of good service maintenance companies out there doing that work. And these systems have been in for 20, 30, 40 years and they've not been maintained properly. And with retroactive code changes for CO2 that have not been done in over a decade when the code came out, that's kind of coming to a head and plants are realizing we really need to get this stuff done. So we're, there educating the plants that they didn't even realize they were out of compliance and their service providers aren't telling them that. So there's like I said, there's a real vacuum of quality service providers I feel in this industry. So that's why it's such a high demand. And it's just taking off really quickly.

Lee Kaiser (03:00):

You know, with the importance of energy to our economy, I'm glad that you're able to focus on that and make sure facilities are safer. So, you know, you've done a lot of projects for ORR. Tell me about one of your favorite or favorite type of project that you've worked on.

Charlie Johnson (03:16):

You know, my favorite ones are really the challenging ones, are the ones that don't, on paper we don't know what we're really doing going in. We've got to kind of figure it out as we go or develop a solution kind of in the field and maybe bring it back to, you know, engineering for, you know, "Hey, this is what we did." And you know, and there really wasn't a lot of help. Maybe it wasn't, there wasn't a path to go down, you know, it might be something that was a unique solution for this customer. Those are my favorite projects to be involved with. You know, cause I like that challenge and kind of figuring out a solution to a problem that, you know, there's not a open book answer for.

Lee Kaiser (03:56):

I'm sure with your tenure being able to do some field engineering is, you know, within your abilities and feels good.

Charlie Johnson (04:02):

Yeah, yeah it does. And it's good to provide that solution and help educate other technicians and other people in our organization and customers on, you know, on how this stuff really works and kind of the process behind it. Lift the mystery a little bit off.

Lee Kaiser (04:21):

So you've done a lot of projects but are there any projects you haven't done that you'd like to? Is there kind of like a dream project that you can imagine?

Charlie Johnson (04:28):

Yeah. Like I've not done anything new construction for like super new technology or something like cutting edge, like NASA, something of a classified nature. We've done military bases, you know, which were semi classified on flight simulator projects, things of that, that was going on 20 years ago, which was state of the art back then. But you know, I'd really like to get into something that's, you know, kind of not seen before, you know? We've got to do some really cool things and I've been in places I would never have dreamed of being in. Behind the scenes access to places that as the general public guy you'll never get to. And that's been a real thrill. End of the day, like something that nobody's seen before would be my dream project. So I don't know what it is but.

Lee Kaiser (05:20):

I hope you get to do that. So, you know, are there any fire protection technologies that you feel that you're an expert in?

Charlie Johnson (05:30):

Yeah. I would say any of the clean agents. You know, from clean agents to low pressure CO2 or to any of the enerting stuff. I've done so much of that in so many different applications, I'm pretty competent and confident in any thing we've got to do with that. Also air sampling. I probably put in thousands of those in my time, and worked on, touched, seen over that amount of time. So there's really not much I haven't seen in the air sampling world and there's new technologies coming out that I'm kind of excited about. So there is some new stuff I haven't gotten to see yet but I understand it and excited to put some of that in.

Lee Kaiser (06:13):

Now, being in engineering, your group and my group, you specifically helped us recently to revise our testing procedures for air sampling detectors. Tell us why we did that.

Charlie Johnson (06:28):

You know, the reason we revised our procedures is to give a kind of go above and beyond the minimum requirements for maintenance. You know, the air sampling gives you some unique capabilities of not having to test every single device and in certain applications that's great, that's tremendous and it's necessary. But you know, it may not be everything that needs to happen. So there is some going an extra mile, making sure, you know, definitively that each ports open. And just doing things the right way is really important to me personally, and to our technicians as a whole. They feel better about, you know, confidently knowing the system is going to work a hundred percent and just feel good about that.

Lee Kaiser (07:13):

Yeah. Are there industries you know better than most other people?

Charlie Johnson (07:18):

Yeah, I would say the power gen for sure. You know, we've devoted a lot of time and study into this, you know, recently. But also there's some sistering industries that I didn't know, like the Siemen industry. Very, very similar to what Power Generation does in terms of their fire detection. So I learned a lot about the Siemen industry, more than I ever thought I would know and it's interesting. As well as other light industrial, petrochemical plate facilities, things of that nature. It's fun to draw the parallels between them. Of course they're all different in their own ways but there's a lot of parallels to draw from.

Lee Kaiser (08:02):

Charlie Johnson, Senior Project Manager with ORR Protection, focusing on the industry of power generation. Thanks so much for spending a little time with me today and letting us know your story.

Charlie Johnson (08:12):

Absolutely. Appreciate it.

Outro (08:14):

Thanks for joining us. To learn more about mission critical fire protection, visit MCFPexperts.com.

Interview w/ Charlie Johnson