Today on The Fire Protection Podcast, Drew is joined by Amy Liedman and Bob Teta, product and software leaders at Potter Electric Signal. Amy and Bob discuss Potter’s development of new, cloud-capable fire alarm panel technology that aims to simplify alarm system installation and maintenance.

From the onset of cellular communications to a rise in remote programming and the expansion of real-time data monitoring, Amy and Bob offer an inside look into how technology is changing the fire protection landscape–specifically when it comes to alarms.

“As new products come out, there’s always a consideration that they’re going to be cloud-connected, or at least capable of that,” Bob says, looking toward future developments in fire system software functionality. “It’s all about connectivity.”

Data also plays a huge role in the tech landscape in fire protection, which is shifting. “People love data these days,” Amy says. “It’s just a matter of getting the devices to have the technology to do it.” They explain how Potter is modernizing various fire protection systems and making the industry more agile and adaptable.

Tune in to Episode 54 of The Fire Protection Podcast to learn about critical advances in alarms and what the future of fire protection systems holds.

  • 00:11: Introduction
  • 03:59: Amy’s & Bob’s roles
  • 08:01: Potter’s innovations in fire alarm systems
  • 10:41: The launch of a cellular communication tool for fire alarms
  • 11:45: The shift towards cellular communication for stability and security
  • 18:50: Ensuring data ownership and privacy for customers
  • 23:00: Enhancements in remote programming and cloud-based services
  • 25:09: Utilizing apps for walk tests and real-time data monitoring for technicians
  • 28:27: IntelliView
  • 31:20: Integrations
  • 37:17: Growth of BDA and ARC systems
  • 42:41: Potter resources
  • 44:47: Conclusion

 

Full Transcript

Drew Slocum:

This is episode 54 of the Fire Protection Podcast powered by Inspect Point. Today my guest, our is Potter, Amy Leadman and Bob tda from Potter Electric Signal. Dealt with Potter a lot over the years, mostly on the sprinkler and suppression side, but wanted to learn on them growing the fire alarm side and their connected solution side. It’s really exciting to see their growth and kind of how they’re approaching the fire alarm market. And obviously it’s the largest part of the fire protection market and how they’ve kind of gone at it the last 15 years and continue to go after it. So they’re both on more of the fire alarm side and the software side. So it was exciting to talk about in telecom and tele view and how that’s going to proceed into the future. We get in a little bit about obviously their devices and everything, but I have some jokes on some of the stuff on Bob’s wall in the back of his office. So yeah, really excited to have them on and yeah, welcome Bob and Amy onto the podcast live. All right, thanks Amy and Bob for joining me today in the Fire Protection podcast.

Bob Teta:

Glad to be here.

Drew Slocum:

So this episode’s probably not going to come out till November time, but I do have the fire prevention month in my background. It’s October still when we’re recording this, so just have a heads up to the listenership out there. Bob, I know we started the conversation. You have a pole station behind you. You got to give me the background of where you got that.

Bob Teta:

Yeah, so I always wanted to have one of some legacy fire products in my office and gosh, those pole stations are pretty notorious. So I found it on Facebook and someone had it up for like $30 and contacted my, it was in Lexington, Kentucky, I’m in Louisville, and my daughter was going to the University of Kentucky at the time. So I sent her on a mission to pick this up and she called and she picked it up, but then immediately said, dad, do you know this is an old piece of garbage. It’s really beat up and all these things. And I said, yeah, I’m aware of that. So yeah, that’s where I got that for my office,

Drew Slocum:

So I didn’t include you guys in this. That is a requirement in Rhode Island. So outside of any commercial or even residential neighborhood, those are required still those pole stations. Yeah.

Amy Liedman:

Is that the only state? Rhode Island? I knew it was on the East coast.

Drew Slocum:

Connecticut. You see ’em in Connecticut a little bit, but yeah,

Amy Liedman:

I think I’ve seen ’em in Maine too. I think there’s still some that exist in Maine.

Drew Slocum:

It’s wild that they’re like, how often do they even get pulled? I don’t know. It’s kind of an old blue law or whatever you want to Yeah, right.

Amy Liedman:

It’s fun. I’ve looked for ’em too, but they’re hard to find. So I didn’t know Bob had one now I know. Take the sign and that Bob.

Drew Slocum:

Yeah, right. So I know who both of you guys are. Amy again, we’re having Potter Signal I guess. Is it Potter Signal?

Amy Liedman:

Potter Electric Signal is the full name. Yep. Potter Electric Signal. Yep.

Drew Slocum:

So let’s give your background quick and we’ll get up into it from there.

Amy Liedman:

So Amy and Amy Leman, I’ve been with Potter Signal for about 15 years and I’m strictly on the fire alarm side for Potter Signal. So Potter is usually known for as a sprinkler company, sprinkler monitoring products that they make. About 15 years ago we started getting into our own design and engineering of fire alarm systems and I came on board at that time and am in that division of Potter. So on the fire alarm side, I’ve been in product management training and now kind of a marketing business strategy sort of role with Potter.

Drew Slocum:

Cool. 125 years.

Amy Liedman:

I see that. Yeah, we’re celebrating 125 years. It started in St. Louis, Missouri is where it’s headquartered. And so it started as a runner. Service for security was really where it started. And then it has morphed into water flow switches, tamper devices, that’s what they’re known for, the little red boxes on sprinkler systems. And then they moved their headquarters about 15 years ago when they brought on the fire alarm stuff. And they still do that. They’re doing nitrogen systems on the sprinkler side. We do all fire alarm and trying to do all the different fire alarm products that we do for systems, conventional, addressable voice, all the things. Yep.

Drew Slocum:

Bob, where are you? Where do you live?

Bob Teta:

Oh, me. Yeah, so I’m in Louisville, Kentucky, so I’m the director of software services and in Louisville we have our software development team that does a lot of the headend kind of things, cloud integration. So really strictly on the software side. And then we have another team that’s kind of our core fire panel team, which is where Amy is located in Minnesota. So we work closely together on a daily basis, but just all happen to be in different locations. And then of course our factory, as I think Amy mentioned, is in St. Louis, Missouri.

Drew Slocum:

Nice. Yeah, I guess you could do that now. It’s like you can have teams and we’re in the same boat, we’re in software, we’re all over the US and you see each other every day. Just this is how they see each other, right?

Amy Liedman:

Yes. So yeah, software comes out of Louisville Hardware, design engineering comes out of Minneapolis, it’s all assembled in St. Louis and yeah, it’s kind of all over.

Drew Slocum:

That’s awesome. Yeah, I’ve seen fire, the Potter fire alarm kind of really take off the last five to seven years and I see them a lot more. I come from the sprinkler side and suppression side of things and obviously worked with Sean Heskett the team over there for years and years and I love what you guys are doing on the fire alarm side. And I guess what is the core and what are you working on over the next or have been working on over the last couple of years?

Amy Liedman:

Yeah, I can give you actually a little history on what we’ve done. So when we came on board about 15 years ago, the very first thing we did was a power supply. This that’s just a notification intended for notification, power supplies, turn horns and strobes on. And that is actually still one of our top selling items is this power supply. And then after that we designed addressable fire alarm systems ranging from small to large. And then from that base we made a second generation of it and it’s always adding each time, adding things that the market needs or what we need to compete with the other guys out there. So we’re doing that. And at the same time when we did this since it was about 15 years ago, maybe less than that for the fire alarm panels, we were able to start from scratch with newer technology where some of these systems that are out there still are using also all these older technologies.

So one of the things that we did with our fire panels was put ethernet connection right on the panel. And so a lot of times you’re connecting to panels through like RSS two thirty two connections or old phone line connections, but here we’re connecting with an ethernet jack just makes it faster to communicate and because we, it was a new design, we could do that. So that’s really what kind of started all the other things that have come from it, what can we do with that now that it’s there? And part of that is just getting data out of the system and then what can you do with it? Then with fire alarm, there’s so many codes and standards and you have to do things this way. And then trying to know that we have to comply with all those things, but what else can we do now that we can maybe talk to the panel in a different manner?

And there’s no codes on that. You’re just getting data, analyzing data, what are we doing with this data? And so that’s kind of changed how we look at fire systems because it’s a little bit different about what can we get from this panel and then what can we do with it to just better service it, the lifespan of it, knowing what’s going on, all of those things. So at this point we just released on the fire system and all our fire systems have this in there. We just have voice coming out, we’re doing new things along that line. And Bob’s team is instrumental because they are the software guys. I will say one of my favorite things about Bob’s team and the products that they have, and this goes back to the years of Covid where there was such a supply chain problem, I always said, I love software, it’s always in stock. We have

Bob Teta:

Stock of software, we’re good with the bits and the bites.

Amy Liedman:

That was always my joke. I’m like, we should just sell a ton of it. It’s always there. So that was just kind of a joke we had when the supply chain was such a debacle, but so Bob’s team just released in telecom, which really allows us to do more with that data. So backing up just a little bit on our addressable fire panels with this ethernet deck, the idea was putting an IP communicator and it is an IP communicator built into the panel kind of the way communication to central stations was going. Phone lines are kind of antiquated and there’s now codes around that too. So then we released it built in, no longer need a dialer, pots lines, those types of things. And what we sort of started to learn is that the trend in the market was more towards the ability to not get on a building’s network.

It’s challenging for a fire alarm installer to do that. They don’t own it. Fire panels on a buildings network, there’s other requirements for battery backup types of devices, that type of thing. And those networks can go up and down and of course fire panels don’t like that. Things beep. And so the trend really was going to a cellular communication where they could just tap into the cell communication and get that signal out. So we embrace that trend in a better way, even now in telecom, allows us to grab the data off the panel very easily and then use cellular communication to get it to the cloud and then allow the customer to do more with it. And Bob’s team has, we just rolled that out so I know Bob can say more to it.

Drew Slocum:

You mentioned that another reason is just security. That’s how Target was broken into through the IOT and the HVAC system. They were connected to their wifi.

Amy Liedman:

Thing. Yeah, people are leery about buildings network and it’s just new and they reset things and they change port names and all that and fire panels don’t like that stuff. They want some stability to it and going through a cellular communicator does that. And that was kind of the trend we were seeing that was becoming more and more requested and our panels could do that, but it required dialers and various things. You didn’t get a lot of good stuff out of the system doing that. And so we changed that around for our panels to better get information out and then of course communicate to essential station, that’s check that box is done, but then also there’s a whole nother layer of data we can get out of this panel. And Bob’s team has got this whole software base that does things with that now or can do things with that. I dunno.

Drew Slocum:

Yeah, 5G is big too. We were tooling with some iot devices at one point and I don’t even think 5G was on our radar. So you guys obviously have that on the telecom already.

Bob Teta:

Yeah, so we have 5G and I think even add with what Amy was saying, the nice thing about she came in 15 years ago, started developing the fire panel and getting the IP port on and then my team came on about six years ago and really is leveraging that data now. Now it’s all about what can we do above and beyond. And if you think about it, a dialer made sense 50 years ago, it makes no sense anymore. It doesn’t make sense to do dial capture off of a fire panel when you could do so much more. And that’s the way we thought about this. Sure, we need to get this data to a central station and unfortunately people are still using things like contact ID and C, but we have to live with that, but we don’t have to live with that data going to our other cloud services. So we send a much richer amount of data to our cloud services allowing our ESDs, our end customers, first responders to get very detailed information about what is going on on the fire panel during an emergency situation or even during commissioning or any kind of a debugging. So that’s kind of the approach we’re taking is to go above and beyond code.

Drew Slocum:

Yeah, it’s really cool. So it’s a gateway right now. Is it just connecting to specific Potter panels or can you connect? Is it, where is it?

Bob Teta:

Yeah, so the in telecom it will attach to any fire panel because it does still have dial capture and you do need to still support that because many of the legacy panels and even current panels coming off on the market still have dial capture. So it’ll do that, but only when you connect it to a Potter panel will you get the rich set because we’re not just communicating using contact ID anymore to our panels. Like I said, we’re getting that data and we are sending it to the central station, what they want, but we’re also getting the richer data so that now you have the apps and you could remotely program our panels. We’re always backing up our panels to make sure that you never lose your programming and you’re not looking for someone’s laptop. It’s always safe in your cloud portal for you to grab. So anyway, those are the things that we’re trying to do above and beyond.

Drew Slocum:

I always, sorry to interrupt Amy, it’s just like looking at the technician set. From my point of view on the service provider side, it’s like you go in, why do all the fire techs need a laptop? It doesn’t need to be that complicated. It seems like the technology’s kind of moved past that where you need a laptop every time for a lot of the older panels, but why can’t we bridge that with this communicator, right?

Bob Teta:

That’s right.

Amy Liedman:

Fire alarm has always dragged on technology. So it’s kind of funny. We’re talking about using the cloud when I don’t know, the cloud’s been around forever and here we are very excited about this, but it’s trying to, and you have a lot of younger people coming into the fire industry and they’re starting on that installation base and their whole life revolves around their phone and their iPad, whatever their device is, and making something that they know how to interface with that and they use that and they’re going to use it in ways we don’t even know and trying to keep up with that. And that’s kind of a new way of looking at things and trying to get other youthful people into the fire alarm industry, which is a little aged, but, and this is all through webs and they have mobile applications and you can get to this information and it’s for not only the installer side that can use it in one aspect of servicing things and finding out information, but even on an end user side too, for those larger places that have multiple locations, an installer can provide this to their end user as well to help them know what’s going on as well.

So the data is owned by the customer and the installer, it’s their data. We’re just using it or I’ll say dishing it out, it’s probably not the right term, but providing it to them in a way that’s easier to understand than a seea code type of deal. Sure.

Drew Slocum:

Wait, who owns the data? I always ask that. Is it the distributor or is it the actual end user.

Amy Liedman:

Both? The installer who has the software license owns that.

Drew Slocum:

Whoever’s paying for the software license, right?

Bob Teta:

Yeah. And we try to, it’s always a concern I think out there is that you’re getting all this data and then what are you doing with this data? And we actually spent probably inordinate amount of time with our legal department trying to be very clear that we Potter do not own the data. It is our customer’s data and we will not share that data with anybody in any way, shape or form because it is their data. As a matter of fact, we’ve even done some things where I think I mentioned to you that the database for the panel is backed up. Well, that could be concerning because you might say, wow, Potter could take that and maybe give it to another distributor. Well, we’ve not only encrypted that data but also allow our end users to password protect it. And there’s nobody, there’s no way for us to get into it. So even though we see that data on our cloud, we can’t open it. There’s just no way that we can do it. So we’re trying to bring that across that there’s no evil intent here. It’s all very good intent that we want to make their lives better, make more efficient and what have you. So we’re trying to go above and beyond in those areas to make sure they understand what our intention is here.

Drew Slocum:

No, that’s good. I always ask that. It’s always, yeah, people ask us the same thing.

Amy Liedman:

You want to know what are you guys doing with my information? Yep, absolutely.

Drew Slocum:

Yep. Well, I think a big you guys touched on it a little bit is this can connect any panel with a dialer and I think from a service provider point of view or your distributors, they may be rolling with Potter for majority of their portfolio for the recurring inspection and service work, but there’s probably a good 50 to 40% of that or even more that are other panels. You don’t have to be a distributor to do an inspection. So if you’re able to connect to whatever panel out there that’s not Potter, I think grabbing that information for that inspection, I think there’s real power in that. And I’ve had previous podcasts talking about that as well.

Bob Teta:

Definitely we certainly didn’t want to come out with a communicator that was only used on our panels again, right? Something they could standardize on ’em. On the other hand, the other thing we wanted to make sure to do is our communicator does work with our IP port and you don’t need our UD 2000 dialer, but that 2000 dialer is going to stay in our portfolio. So if you don’t want to use our in telecom, you can still use the third party communicator. Again, we’re not trying to lock you out. We think what we have is a better solution, but if you have a different opinion or have already a relationship with another communicator company, that’s fine and we are going to allow you to, I shouldn’t say allow you, we’re going to keep the dialer in our product line so that you can use those.

Drew Slocum:

Nice, nice.

Amy Liedman:

Yeah. Nothing’s being replaced. We’re adding. We’re adding and enhancing. Yeah, that’s right. I think when used with other panels, since we can’t get information, it is just dialer capture. So it’s the contact ID CA correct Bob that goes to the, they don’t get that higher level of data.

Bob Teta:

We have our eyes set on being able to use that data also connect to another brand panel. We can use that contact ID with our cloud services. We haven’t done that today because our first priority was the Potter panels, but the contact ID does have some information that we could use to provide through our app and our cloud services. And so the idea in telecom is again, like we were just said, continue to add, we are going to be continuing to add services to our in telecom and all of these services are included with your monthly rate that you pay. It’s just for your monthly cellular rate. And then we’re adding all these services, but that comes with that. There’s not an extra dollar for push notifications or an extra nickel to program a panel remotely. It’s all part of what we offer and we think this is the way we think the fire industry should be going.

Drew Slocum:

Yeah, I fully agree. It’s got to be more of open and collaborative. I think traditionally even coming until I started or co-founded in Spec point with the others, I wasn’t. I knew fire alarm, but not that much. But it seemed very proprietary, very locked down and there’s certain aspects and OEMs that still are and trying to keep it that way, but you guys are pushing the envelope to make it more open and collaborative. I don’t know, it just makes it easier for the industry. Right?

Bob Teta:

Yeah, I think I would agree that we are trying to be more open with what we’re doing and I think you’re going to see some more things from us that allow people like yourself and spec point to have access to some of the data that now that we’re having access to on our panels. So those are the things that are coming now that we have this great connectivity with our in telecom.

Drew Slocum:

Cool. Now with in telecom, obviously that’s the gateway. What is the software piece that it’s communicating with I guess?

Bob Teta:

Yeah, so in telecom is the hardware piece. We call it the in telecom advanced gateway to differentiate it from just a communicator, but it is communicating with our cloud services, which are called IntelliView. And with IntelliView we have a web access, so you can get all of your data on the web. We also have an app for Android and iOS. And then addition IntelliView is now being built into other software products. So we have a programming tool. Most companies do a PC-based programming tool that could also be going to the cloud at certain points. But right now our PC-based programming tool also integrates with IntelliView for the purposes of doing the remote panel programming and being able to get all of your databases from all of your sites making changes and sending ’em back to the site. And for those that I know will probably the hairs on their neck will raise, when I say we’re remotely programming a panel, it is true we are remotely programming panel, but someone still has to be at the panel to enable the download. So we still kept that in place to make sure we’re complying with all the UL requirements.

Amy Liedman:

But it allows, if you as a company have a person that’s savvy in the programming software, but they’re not there and you’ve got a newer person on site that doesn’t know what they’re looking at when they download this program, you can easily move that program without just use the panel and the gateway to send it or get it or pull it from the cloud, make some changes, review it, send it down, and that person’s on site that can then enable it and do the required testing of whatever needs to happen based on the number of changes made and that type of thing. So because the trends in the industry, sometimes if you have these people are very focused on what they do. You’ve got the guy that does the install, you’ve got the software guy, and now those things can better be more efficient in how they’re putting a system together. So that’s kind of the thought behind that. But yeah, you do have to have somebody on site still to comply with all the nfpa a UL requirements.

Drew Slocum:

Yeah, NFPA nine 15, I sit on the remote inspection and testing committee and obviously 70 twos brought this in, but it’s getting to that status like, hey, you can do stuff remotely and obviously a lot of the newer fire alarm panels are on the market are be able to do remotely test and some of that, but you’re able to do that, I think do that software program remotely, like you said. And since we have such an issue with labor in the industry, it’s helping out there. You don’t need as many bodies doing it.

Amy Liedman:

Right, with even the labor stuff. That’s absolutely correct.

Bob Teta:

Yeah. And I know you’ve been involved quite a bit with the testing and inspection, and again, we’re trying to also support companies like you that want to try to bring apart the one person walk test and get better data and more assurance that the system is being tested correctly. Well, we’re the source of that data, and if we could provide some of that data to people like yourselves to make your product stronger, I think overall it’s just a stronger package. When you look at, say, a Potter system within Spec Point is going to be a stronger product than anybody else’s in the market. And so like you said, the more we can open up, it just makes us stronger.

Drew Slocum:

Yeah, no, I agree. Yeah, the one tractor to wash test is pretty, I know it’s out there. It’s funny, I’ve seen the first instance of these one person W tests where it’s literally, it’s like this device that has you put another phone or whatever on, it’s manually pushing the buttons on a panel while the other person’s doing a walk test. So it’s like this weird contraption, but it’s manually pushing the button of clearing it while there’s a video there and the other person doing the one walk test is actually going around and pushing this arm out to push the button, right? Come on, we got to move. I mean, that was the first thing 10 to 15 years ago. Now we’re here with it remotely.

Amy Liedman:

And I think mean even they can just walk around with the app on their phone during a walk test Bob, and they can see the data come in and work through it that way. And it’s like that’s what people are looking for on these things. So yeah, we’re getting there even though apps have been around forever.

Bob Teta:

And then even in the commissioning, like you said, when you’re having, maybe you’re doing a ground fault issue or you have a detector that’s acting up on you, it’s terrible that you have to keep calling back to someone at the panel saying, Hey, did you get that app in front of you? We’ll see live what that panel’s doing. And there’s no need to have someone at the front panel just sitting there with a walkie talkie telling you No, nothing yet. Nothing yet. So again, it’s a tool to be used by all people. Sometimes for first responders, all they care about is the alarm and where it is and all those things, but as a technician, you care about a bunch of other things. So we tried to create tools for all the different functions and the lifecycle throughout the life of a fire panel.

Drew Slocum:

So the fire panels obviously connected or through the gateway or the panel directly to IntelliView. Is there any other products that you guys connect to IntelliView?

Bob Teta:

Well, yeah, with IntelliView, the first thing that we had done is we created what we call the IntelliView link, which again, it was just a piece of software that enabled the panels to talk to our cloud. And it was a good product and still exists, and it is a good product, but it is an extra widget you have to add to the panel to get it to talk to the cloud. And that’s why we went down the communicator route. We thought, all right, they’re already putting that on the panel, so that’s already there, so let’s just leverage it and not make our customers buy an extra thing. If what I’m talking about there this way, you’re already buying that communicator, let’s use it for more instead of making you buy an extra thing. So that’s kind of the way we go about connecting to the cloud. Now we have other integrations too that do require separate hardware and in terms of Modbus and backnet and all those things, but those are not really cloud-based integrations. They’re usually for building management systems and industrial.

Amy Liedman:

I think IntelliView was first started for the nitrogen generators though.

Bob Teta:

Yeah, nitrogen generator started it all.

Amy Liedman:

So nitrogen generators by our sprinkler division, they detect nitrogen or rust in a pipe. The sprinkler system, and I’m not an expert on this at all, but I know in Tel was started from that to gather information from the nitrogen generator and they called it IntelliView. When Bob’s team came on board, they really have acquired all software that Potter ever did, and of course all the stuff they’ve now done and they now developed that and own it. And so we, I’ll say piggybacked or we’re just using that platform because, so what else can you connect? Well, in your building if you have Potter panels and Intel or nitrogen generators, those are the things from Potter that go right into that IntelliView software right now. But yeah, IntelliView started with the nitrogen generators.

Bob Teta:

Yeah, that’s right.

Drew Slocum:

Yeah, I remember, I think I was the number one nitrogen salesperson. I worked when I worked for Fing Supply net for about a year. So I wasn’t able to get anybody to sign up for IntelliView though, because, and the sprinkler side is very mechanical and it’s just starting to get connected. And I’d be interested to see if you’ve had more nitrogen systems be connected to IntelliView than five, I’m sure, than five years ago. But how is that adoption going on the sprinkler side?

Bob Teta:

I’d say the adoption there is going really well because the connection to IntelliView is built right into the nitrogen generator. They don’t even need the in telecom. So they do have an IP connection coming straight out, and so they can go right to the internet straight. And then there’s also, there’s no requirements for them to have central station communication, or if they do, they’re usually going through a fire panel so they can go out of that generator right into the cloud. So that one’s built in as it comes out of the factory.

Drew Slocum:

So wait, there’s a gateway on the generators now?

Bob Teta:

It’s built in. It’s built. Oh, wow. Communication capabilities are built in.

Drew Slocum:

On. Oh, that’s awesome.

Bob Teta:

When they come out of the factory. And so you could be looking at your fire panel, your generators, and there’s a couple of other products that the sprinkler team has that also will integrate to IntelliView. So we’re starting to bring the entire product line into IntelliView. So it’s not just fire, like you said, it actually started with Sprinkler. So Sprinkler continues to grow their product line. We’re integrating that into IntelliView. We’re integrating fire to IntelliView, so it becomes our cloud platform.

Drew Slocum:

Is there anything that you’re, so you have the fire alarm, you have the nitrogen communicating with it. Is there anything else that communicates with IntelliView or about to communicate with IntelliView?

Amy Liedman:

Bob might know more than I do. I don’t, I’m not aware. We develop on the sprinkler side, they just came out with their, they’ll come out with new fire systems and if it works, we’ll get those connected. So I’ll say that as we develop products, IntelliView’s there, and so the concept would be, well, that just is going to be part of these new products. So that’s how we think of it. On the fire alarm side. On the sprinkler side, again, I don’t actually know what they’re all working on.

Bob Teta:

Yeah, they’ve got a couple of products too. We recently came out with a thing called the leak rate monitor. So yeah, the leak rate monitor has an integration, and in their cases, actually we do a little bit more advanced things too. I’d say we’re doing some graphing on the nitrogen generators, being able to graph the data that’s coming into us. Also on the leak rate monitor, same kind of thing, being able to do that with them too. So yeah, continuing as new products come out, there’s always a consideration that they’re going to be cloud connected or at least capable of that. And even in the sprinkler side, same thing. Yep.

Drew Slocum:

Yeah, you have the hub there, you just need the devices to connect to it. That leak rate thing, I think, I don’t know, there’s a huge potential there. Again, I’ll have to talk to Jason or Sean or somebody to kind of tell me more. I’m interested in that. Some ideas that I have, obviously on the fire alarm side too, to put alerts in to essentially roll a truck to get somebody out there, and there’s some pretty cool ideas that we can work on.

Bob Teta:

Yeah, I think it’s all about connectivity. And again, even on the sprinkler side, they’re trying to go above and beyond where they ever were before. They certainly have their core product line that’s, like you said, more mechanical in nature, but they’ve gone well beyond that and are trying again, also to advance that part of the market too.

Drew Slocum:

Well, if you bake it into the actual product, if they want it, great. If they don’t, you don’t. Obviously if they want it, then there’s that subscription fee that kind of comes into that,

Bob Teta:

Right? That’s right.

Amy Liedman:

People love data these days, and so it’s just a matter of getting the devices to have the technology to do it, which on the fire side, we were a little more agile to be able to do that. And then the sprinkler side kind of started that with the platform and just go from there. Provide people the data they want.

Drew Slocum:

Yeah. Yeah. Everybody’s connected to their ring or Google Home. And I think once you can self-test your smoke detectors from, I don’t know, 10 miles away, I feel like people kind of get it. If they’re doing it residentially, why can’t we do this in our regular business?

Amy Liedman:

Right.

Drew Slocum:

Cool. Anything else on the product side? I know those are the two big ones.

Amy Liedman:

And telecom was just released at the end of, was it August? I think it was on August, yeah. Yeah, end of August. And actually that same week we released that, we released a new part for our voice system. So voice is something that we’ve just gotten traction with integrated into the fire system. It’s silly to talk about, there’s voice systems all over, but on the Potter platform it’s now integrated as part of Intuit. So that’s kind of the newest stuff that we released. We are of course working on all sorts of other things to enhance these systems, but that was just released, it was an amplifier that just sits right inside the actual panel, so named, we joke about it, call it the movie theater panel, but it’s more of a small application panel. It’s just one cabinet with an amplifier inside of it. So we released the integrated amp. That was the newest thing that we released, but we’ve got lots of things in the work, so I got to stay tuned. I’ll probably have to talk again, I guess.

Amy Liedman:

The BDAs, that’s a growing trend as well, and it’s very pocket, very pockety across the country on where that is needed. But it always starts that way. And then it starts to gain traction for BDA systems and then the ARC systems. That’s very centralized in New York these days.

Drew Slocum:

Yes, New York. Yeah. Similar name. Why don’t they just name it what emergency response communication.

Amy Liedman:

As New York does, they have a few different requirements than the rest of whatever people are requiring. But yeah, BDA is a, and it’s getting kind of lumped into fire alarm systems, that low voltage installation, and it’s really helping the fire industry. That’s the intent. And so it’s starting to become something of fire alarm installer is starting to work on, which is then of course, new and unknown and dunno how to apply. And so yeah, we’ve got a team of people that help with design and everything for those new system requirements.

Drew Slocum:

It’s radio versus low voltage. Right. And interesting, I think I talked to some of your, you guys acquired Tower iq? I think I initially talked to the co-founder of that and yeah, he was a radio person. It was interesting. Not even in fire, just radio, right?

Amy Liedman:

Yeah, those amplifiers take those BDA systems. We provide FCC training. We personally don’t provide it, but we have a resource that does FCC training because you’re integrating to radio systems, and that’s a regulated industry. So we offer our customers classes on that because, or they have to get certified on that to put BDA systems in to buildings. They’re on the radio networks.

Drew Slocum:

And for anybody not knowing what we’re talking about, it’s emergency. Yeah, it enhances their radio signal. You get into a building and the concrete shuts it down. They can’t communicate outside. So it really amplifies what radios they have on their equipment. It amplifies those radios. And in some areas there’s major requirements to make sure that in any point in a building, the fire department has signal, which makes sense. And so that’s what those systems do. And the acronyms have been changing over the years, but emergency wireless communication systems, I was calling ’em BDAs, bi-directional amplifiers. It’s kind of all the terms, but yeah,

Drew Slocum:

It’s fun. Well, yeah, I’ll definitely, I think there’s definitely some more episodes that talk about some of that. And before we end this here, I wanted to ask you guys, it’s called the Quick Response Round I’ve created a while ago, so I always ask the guests a couple different questions. It’s pretty easy. And then we’ll kind of get out of here. Amy, specific to you, what is your favorite type of detection system? It doesn’t have, it could just be in general. It doesn’t have to be specific.

Amy Liedman:

I think I like the aspirating detection actually. It’s just very sensitive and it’s used in some pretty unique situations. So they also then have some pretty interesting things that are activated by it. So those are the most interesting systems that I think, we don’t do a lot of those, but they’re interesting when you read about ’em.

Drew Slocum:

Yeah, it grabs the different chemical makeup of the air and before even it’s smoldering or smoking, right?

Amy Liedman:

And it’s used in very specific locations that have a large need to not have anything happen. So they’re just more interesting systems. That’s usually where I think it’s invisible. Maybe I’ll convince Potter. We got to get into all that.

Drew Slocum:

So Bob, for you, this has nothing to do with fire. So you’re a big horse racing guy, right?

Bob Teta:

Well, I have to be.

Drew Slocum:

You have to be. What do you think, what’s your opinion on all the stuff happened with Bob Baffert over the last couple of years?

Bob Teta:

I think Cheating’s not good. We’ve kind of had a run in with that here in the Louisville area. Our basketball team’s kind of had a couple of run-ins.

Drew Slocum:

Oh yeah, right.

Bob Teta:

Yeah. But overall, I mean, when you look at, everybody’s an expert on the horse racing industry, right around derby time. Everybody seems to know everything there is to know about horses and including me. And then it’s just a fun time between that and the bourbon. It’s a good time.

Drew Slocum:

Is fun. I grew up in Saratoga Springs from there, and it’s summertime is their big time and everybody’s a handicapper giving you their opinion on whatever the race of the week, and it’s kind of funny. Oh

Bob Teta:

Yeah. But it’s a good place to go and between going to Churchill Downs or Keeneland over in the Lexington area, yes. That’s why I think Keeneland is even a nicer place than Churchill Downs just for a day out. But

Drew Slocum:

Yeah, I’ve heard great things over at Keeneland. Well, let’s wrap this up. Let I guess the audience know where we can find you and some more information on the Potter products.

Amy Liedman:

So our website has all the information that we were talking about. It’s potter signal.com, and you can go there actually in the search bar is the best place. I use it all the time, type in the product we’ve been talking about in telecom or the integrated voice and it’ll just pop up all the information in nitrogen generators. It’s all the sprinkler and fire products. So Potter signal.com is where you’ll can find all the information on our products.

Bob Teta:

And there’s some good videos that even Amy has publish on there. So yeah, I think some of those videos are some of the really good way to get yourself introduced to some of the products. And I know Amy’s done, she was kind of the beginning of all of the recording of all the videos, but they’re really good and get you started on trying to understand what we’ve done and what our products do.

Amy Liedman:

Yeah, they’re like short videos. Some of them are just very introductory on basic fire alarm, and some of them are introductory on a product. Some of ’em get more detailed, but we started to use Embrace videos to do training, and it’s not, you’ll hear my voice, but also the training department’s voice doing a lot of those videos. But that was a really good way to help people new to the industry, figure out our stuff.

Drew Slocum:

I actually might utilize that. I didn’t even know that.

Amy Liedman:

It’s a whole library of videos.

Drew Slocum:

I’ll have to utilize that. We have a lot of new hires outside of fire protection.

Amy Liedman:

And even though some of ’em might get kind of in the weeds, it’s a great overview of just fire alarm in general, because since it’s code driven, many of the things that we say work across the board on any products because they’re just fire alarms things. But yeah, we did a lot of video training and we have webinars actually, that people can sign up for on our website too. There’s no cost to training webinars if you’d like to actually have a live webinar where you can ask questions. We even do training out in the field, so we do all sorts of things to talk about fire alarm and what products we have, but just fire alarm in general.

Drew Slocum:

Awesome. Well, thanks Bob. Thanks Amy for joining me today.

Drew Slocum:

Problem. Yeah, love to do this again at some point here in the future. Yeah.

Amy Liedman:

Excellent.

Drew Slocum:

All right, thanks. This was episode 54 of the Fire Protection Podcast, powered by Inspect point. I want to thank Amy and Bob Tada again for coming on the Fire Protection Podcast and talking about everything, fire alarm within Potter and beyond. So really cool to see what they’re doing to open up the platform within the Fire Protection community and keep pushing forward. Thanks again for listening and like and subscribe. See you.