In Episode 9 of The Mission Critical Fire Protection Podcast, Lee Kaiser sits down with ORR's Michelle Wille. Michelle discusses her tenure in the fire suppression industry, her take on engineered fire protection, different types of sprinkler systems, and power generation, and they discuss the future of mission critical fire protection.
To learn more, visit us here: https://hubs.ly/H0zPstp0
Thanks for joining us. To learn more about mission critical fire protection, visit MCFPexperts.com.
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 (00:19):
I'm here with Michelle Willie, Account Manager in the Midwest covering, you know, States like Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, and sometimes down into Nashville, Tennessee. And so, Michelle, I know you've been in the fire protection industry a long time. Tell me how you got into fire protection.
Michelle Wille (00:36):
My dad was a, owned a company called Protective Systems, started the business up in 1986. He was out of the Air Force and was a Fike nationals, regional sales manager out of Tennessee. And he decided that in the late eighties that he was going to open up his own business. So he moved our family to Florida and he opened up a business. And so my husband and I both, we worked for him coming out of high school and we just kind of grew up under him and mentored under him. And he kind of just taught us the ropes. As a kid growing up in the industry, it was pretty cool. We went to all the big Fike events. I met Mr. Fike, he's been to our home, Bill Howerton back in the day. So, he was, you know, it was really cool to see that. My sixth grade science experiment was the effects of Halon 1301 on human beings. So that was the funnest project ever. Sitting at the table, sitting at the table with your dad's sucking Halon. Yeah, that's the stuff. So that was a lot of fun. But really just, you know, we specialize in heavy industrial. And so I really, that's kind of how I found my niche and I really got into that world. So it was a lot of fun.
Lee Kaiser (01:45):
I'm curious to hear, do you have any favorite projects that you've worked on?
Michelle Wille (01:49):
Really, I think my favorite ones are where it's at the power plants, where I'm in the heavy industrial market, helping them with high and low pressure CO2, any kind of Protectowire panels, fire alarm, Notifier, all of those type of scenarios are really my favorite projects.
Lee Kaiser (02:06):
So you really like power plant work.
Michelle Wille (02:09):
I do enjoy being in boots and jeans and a hard hat. If I could be in that every day, I'm one happy girl.
Lee Kaiser (02:14):
But do you dream of any different projects? Is there, can you imagine some projects that you'd like to have still in your career? Something different than power plants?
Michelle Wille (02:24):
Yes. So one of my biggest dreams is to work on an oil rig. I want to sell fire protection on an oil rig. I want to be able to get on that helicopter and land on the pad and walk on that like it's the red carpet. So that's really, yeah, that's my dream.
Lee Kaiser (02:43):
That's really neat. I hope you get to do that. Yeah. So, with regards to any fire protection technologies, are there any technologies you feel that you are an expert in?
Michelle Wille (02:52):
I guess I would say the low pressure and high pressure CO2, especially in the power plant applications. I'm good at the explosion proof devices, understanding class one, div one and div two applications. Really getting in there and being able to provide a solution so that they quit false alarming or false discharging, any kind of those applications. So, you know, Protectowire again, right, any of the high pressure, low pressure CO2 applications. I'm starting to get into the video analytics and so learning that and how I can apply those in different applications. So it's been a lot of fun.
Lee Kaiser (03:28):
Wow. Well, I can imagine I know the answer, but are there any industry, vertical industries or applications that are just your absolute specialty?
Michelle Wille (03:40):
I would just say the heavy industrial market, I enjoy those different areas. Automotive, any kind of the pulp and paper, you know, the gasoline, of course the power generation market. I really enjoyed the heavy industrial market across the board.
Lee Kaiser (03:58):
So what makes fire protection for an industrial space different than, you know, normal commercial building spaces?
Michelle Wille (04:06):
So I think for the commercial industry and those spaces, those are typical brick and mortar facilities. If you take a typical spot detection or heat detection, sometimes a clean agent environment, whereas...
Lee Kaiser (04:19):
Lots of sprinklers, right?
Michelle Wille (04:21):
Yeah. Lots of sprinklers, pre-action, any kind of those applications. But in the heavy industrial market, I feel like there's a lot more advantage for different types of fire protection. You have all different types of heat detection that you can provide, whether it be linear heat detection with Protectowire or any kind of the new flame detectors that are coming out. Fike has a new, really great flame detector with the video analytics. I think that provides a great atmosphere, especially in magnesium plants. I also see water mists. It's trending right now. It's very safe.
Lee Kaiser (04:56):
Why water mist in an industrial plant?
Michelle Wille (04:59):
So the water mist in an industrial plant, we will replace now, is what we're seeing, is replacing high pressure and low pressure CO2. CO2 as we all know is deadly and it can cause, you know, death across the industry. With water mist, you have a nice fogging application, doesn't cool down the turbine too fast, you're not going to destroy millions of dollars worth of equipment. And it's safe, it's water, it's non-conductive. I think in those applications and those are heavier industrial applications. I think it's a great application for those type of environments and protecting those hazards.
Lee Kaiser (05:33):
Yeah. And you're right in so many industrial spaces they're pumping and moving combustible or flammable liquids and, you know, water mist is great for those fires that come in those types of scenarios.
Michelle Wille (05:44):
I also enjoy working in some of the steel factories where I'm seeing Protectowire. I'm seeing rolling steel mills where they do have high pressure and low pressure CO2. We're starting to see foam in those applications now. And so I think in, you know, in those type of heavy industrial applications, I'd love to go in there, do a few more lunch and learns, show them the variety of product that's available. You know, putting foam versus Vortex on a pickling line, I think is great information to relay to our clients.
Lee Kaiser (06:16):
You mentioned Victaulic Vortex. Is there, you know, tell me about that product.
Michelle Wille (06:21):
So Victaulic Vortex is a new design for them, it came out a few years back. I really enjoy the technology behind the science of the nozzle. I think it is very unique to their application and I really enjoy trying to present that product and finding the right application for that.
Lee Kaiser (06:43):
It's new. It's something that people haven't heard about before, correct.
Michelle Wille (06:46):
It's very new. We're out on the market now trying to educate our clients. The code is still in process and being worked on. And I think that until we have a code mandated, water mist, fire suppression systems, that it's just going to be a little difficult to sell and to get it out there. But I think in the right application and with the right end user, I think we'll be in great shape.
Lee Kaiser (07:12):
Well, Michelle Willie, Account Manager for ORR Protection in the Midwest. Thanks so much for spending time with us today and telling us your story.
Michelle Wille (07:19):
Thanks for joining us. To learn more about mission critical fire protection visit MCFPexperts.com.