Revolutionizing Fire Alarm with IoT – Scott MacRitchie

The future of fire protection is here.  Collaboration is happening more and more in fire protection.  Manufacturers are working with software providers to enhance how fire protection systems are inspected, tested, and operated.

On this Episode #49 of The Fire Protection Podcast, Drew sits down with Scott MacRitchie, of LVX Global – Fire M.  Scott has a wealth of knowledge in the fire protection industry coming from FireTrace and API Group (Davis Ulmer).  There was a big shout-out to industry legend Steve Ulmer as well.

FireM is transforming the fire alarm industry with IoT solutions allowing end users and service providers the ability to connect to any fire alarm panel in a building.  Traditionally a technician needs to hook up via the hard-wire port annually (or when necessary) to get the data and transcribe it back for analysis.  The product for FireM connects via the printer port (and a gateway) and can send alerts to the service provider and building owner through the cloud.  

Scott also tips off the listeners with new products on the road map.  An ITM / Mobile version of FireM’s product line and some unique fire extinguisher monitoring devices are in development.

0:06 –  Fire Protection Terminology
2:34  – Intro to Scott MacRitchies
3:39  – Steve /Ulmer & the Buffalo Bills
5:00 –  A Found Industry
5:17  – Drew has been in Fire Protection for 20 years
5:40 –  LBX Global & Smart Infrastructure
7:04  – FireM
7:45 –  Fire Panel Data Points
8:22  – Capturing Insights
9:20  – Upgrading what is already in Place
10:10 – My Dishwasher tells me when it’s finished
11:00 – Connected IoT
12:23 – Pain Points for Technicians
13:35 – How to Attract Young People to Fire Protection
15:01 – Roll a Truck only when you really need to
16:10 – Third-Party Device
17:13 – All Data in One Place
19:03  – Carbon Copies?
21:50  – Used to be hours, then minutes, and now seconds
24: 40 – A Little Box
25:54 –  Going Mobile?
31:02 –  We are a Conduit
33:36 – “My Panel is Beeping.”
34:14 – In Other IoT News & Trends in Manufacturing
36:10 – We are all becoming Friends
37:38 – Co-petitors
38:00 -NFPA – FireM at Booth #442
39:09 -Nathan Brown, FireM’s inventor, will be there
39:57 – New Products, including Fire Extinguisher Monitoring
41:20 – Healthcare Hand Portables
41:44 – Looking for Feedback
43:30 – Hit the Inspect Point Button!
44:00 – Fast Round
44:20 – Favorite Installation?
45:10 – Favorite Suppression System?
46:02 – Scott’s Favorite Suppression System is in the Future!
47:04 – Table Smash?
48:20 – Wrap Up

Full Transcript

Drew. Slocum: (00:03):
Fire protection. You don’t know. My boss at Tyco said he’s like six months, and you think you know a lot. And then you get to a year, you’re like, oh man, I didn’t know anything back six months ago. Yeah. Oh yeah. And then it goes another year. I mean, you said 18 months to know fire protection. Uh, I don’t even, I don’t know. I think it’s longer than that.

Scott MacRitchie: (00:29):
Yeah. Fire protection acronyms were always the biggest problem that I ran into because I went to school to be a teacher. When I got into fire protection, the terminology took me forever because nothing felt natural to me. You know? I went from something that wasn’t mechanical at all. I went from a totally different situation. So, entering into, we’re going N F P A next week. Right. Right. What does N F P A mean? Um,

Drew. Slocum: (01:05):

Scott MacRitchie: (01:06):
<laugh> just the most basic things because in our day-to-day, we say so many different things that I’m sure someone on the outside goes, guys, I don’t know what that means. Like, I try to talk to my wife about our industry, and she still introduces me to people, and she goes, this is my husband. I am trying to figure out what he does. And that’s probably the case for many people with spouses in the industry.

Drew. Slocum: (01:33):
Cause they, they; they look up a lot when they walk into a building. Yeah.

Scott MacRitchie: (01:36):
Yeah. They, they, they look up a lot. They say acronyms, and I don’t know. Um, they’re obsessed with knowing that there’s pressure on the hand. Portable under our sink a lot of times. <laugh>, you know, there’s just a bunch of really funny things that we do that I’m sure the, you know, uh, I’m sure other industries have their idiosyncrasies, but I always, I always feel a little bit on the outside when I get into parties and bars and situations where I’m introducing myself, and I say, I, I do fire protection. And like, oh, cool, man, you’re a firefighter. Nah. Yeah. Right. Not, it’s not that cool. Not, it’s not that cool. But, you know, <laugh>

Drew. Slocum: (02:18):
Well, I know we, we just, we started, uh, I just started recording because you know, it’s, it’s, it’s, I like having just us talking, so, yeah. Uh, Scott, you want to introduce the audience to yourself? I’ll do an intro to this, but, you know, um, I’ve known you for many years now, so Yeah. Yep. Introduce the audience to yourself and briefly about you, your background, and who you work for now.

Scott MacRitchie: (02:41):
Okay. Sounds good. So, uh, my name is Scott Ritchie, and I currently work for Fire, uh, a Universal Gateway to Fire Panels. I have been with them for a little over a year now. Uh, I went to work for them after about eight years at Fire Trace International as one of their sales managers as a regional. Uh, I worked in a global capacity for a few years during Covid in the Pandemic, which was a fun introduction to global sales in the first place. Uh, and then before that, I was, we with an API-owned company called Davis, Elmer Davis Elmer Sprinkler Company, which drew, I know, you know, Steve Almer and you know, that group up there. That’s initially how we started talking at NAED a couple of years ago, in the first place. Yeah. So, yeah. So yeah, about 12, 12, 13 years in, in

Drew. Slocum: (03:31):
Fire. So how did you get to Davis Homer?

Scott MacRitchie: (03:34):
Yeah. Uh, w wild situation. So, um, you know, Steve Almer was always a family friend. Okay. And this goes, this goes back to the industry things. When I was growing up and knew him, we’d always say, ” Hey, you know, Steve Almer does sprinklers. You know, my dad and him went to high school together. So in my mind, I was like, oh, sprinklers. So I’m thinking outdoor, I’m thinking irrigation. But, uh, uh, after going to funny enough a, a Buffalo Bills game and, and talking to him a little bit about what they did, it, it just kind of rolled downhill because I was, I was getting out of school, and I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher. I knew that I needed to try something, something different. And Steve won me over quickly, and I went to work for Davis Elmer as a does it all kind of guy just to get to know the industry and things like that. So, you know.

Drew. Slocum: (04:27):
That’s great.

Scott MacRitchie: (04:28):
Yeah. It’s a weird

Drew. Slocum: (04:29):
Funny way, funny way. You, you start, right? You know, everybody kind of doesn’t know about fire protection, uh, unless you go to school, WPI or Worcester come up through

Scott MacRitchie: (04:39):

Drew. Slocum: (04:40):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, yeah, exactly. Most of the industry just falls on it and never leaves. So, um,

Scott MacRitchie: (04:50):
Yeah. It’s, it’s not one of those industries where you’re 10, 11, 12 years old and go fire protection. I’m going to get into the system side of fire protection, you know, I Right. I wanted to be a pro baseball player. I want to be this; I want to be that. But fire protection is usually a found industry.

Drew. Slocum: (05:06):
Yeah. You know what’s crazy? This is, uh, I’m almost my 20th anniversary of fire protection.

Scott MacRitchie: (05:11):

Drew. Slocum: (05:13):
It’s crazy.

Scott MacRitchie: (05:13):
20 years. 20 years <laugh>, uh, leave and not leaving anytime soon is what it seems like.

Drew. Slocum: (05:18):
No, no, not anytime soon. I, I like, like what I’m doing. So, um, I, well, Scott, I wanted to have you on; obviously, we have N F P A next week. I’ll get this release. Yeah. As SAP probably during the show. We’ll, we’ll, great. We’ll launch it. So, well, let’s get into N F P A conference and all of that toward the end. Yep. But, I wanted to learn a little about, um, obviously L VX Global and, and Fire m but, and just, you know, what those solutions currently are. And then I’ve got, I’ve got a bunch of stuff slated to ask you, so. Okay.

Scott MacRitchie: (05:55):
Sounds good. Yeah. I’ll start with the L V X global. So L V X Global, first and foremost, is a smart infrastructure company. So, from a fire protection perspective, it’s always been a small corner of smart infrastructure and the data that comes out of these buildings. But it’s the forgotten trade when it comes to, and, and you know, this, you, you were just, we were just talking about you hiring someone from H V A C and things like that. It is not the first set of points that are integrated into a platform, even though it’s safety, which, which is wild coming from, we’re in fire protection. So we think about it as being the first piece of the importance of smart infrastructure. So all the X global has been involved, you know, things like lighting and energy and, and, uh, H V A C and all these other data points in the buildings.
So a few years ago when, uh, fire the company that’s L V X, um, uh, firearm is a brand of L V X mm-hmm. <affirmative>, the product was invented. It was a natural transition into the umbrella and a good starting point for us to look at these different platforms that our hosting data cause, Right? We don’t think of fire protection as data very often. We think of it as, you know, I come for Davis somewhere sprinkler it’s a pipe, it’s water, it has worked. We’re, we’re driven by code. It’s all these things. But data, what, what about it is data. And, of course the fire alarm side has been doing a lot of this with the information that comes out of those panels for a while. Sure. With Central Station and what comes out of the printer ports and things like that. But, you know, in terms of fire m and what we do transitioning into this product, it’s more about taking as many of those points that happen in the fire panel, whether during an inspection, whether it’s during service, even installation and commissioning. Right. There’s a bunch of really minute details that come out of these panels that get kind of lost. And if you don’t have a way of collecting, aggregating, and interpreting all this information, then there’s a whole lot of insights that you would miss out on. So firearm kind of takes all of the details you would miss in a contact ID central station situation. We put it into a much more usable format, a usable interface, and frankly, just make it accessible.

Drew. Slocum: (08:23):
Um, right. So

Scott MacRitchie: (08:24):
If a long introduction, that’s, that’s going to be my

Drew. Slocum: (08:27):
No, no. And, for anybody listening that doesn’t understand, this is a fire alarm solution. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong at any point, but, um, you know, there are millions of fire alarm panels out there. The newer fire alarm panels have the ability to do some of this, but mm-hmm. <affirmative> majority, 85 plus percent, are the older style panels where they’re not going anywhere because the building’s not going anywhere. You’re not going to retrofit those that easily. So you have the ability, you know, and, and service providers and fire protection contractors are doing inspections on inspections. And so service and retrofits on these all the time. So there’s some, what you can do is connect to a lot of these, uh, uh, I don’t want to say antique panels, but just like, uh, <laugh> older panels, Right. Legacy, uh, and Yeah. Legacy panels and grab data from them, right?

Scott MacRitchie: (09:30):
Yep. Yeah. So one of our big mantras is upgrading what’s in place. So part, being a part of, uh, we’re, we’re a big part of Smart City’s Council, which is all about taking, you know, buildings and, and making smarter decisions with the data that comes out of them. And a huge part of what we push is don’t replace your panel if there’s nothing wrong with it. Right. And you’re looking for mo we call modern features. Right. And I have to laugh at the idea of a modern feature being a connected IoT service. Because if you look at our houses, you look at everything around us; it’s all connected to the internet in some capacity. My dishwasher can tell me when it’s finished, <laugh>. So the fact that, uh, a fire alarm panel now is just starting to move into this world of IoT is,

Drew. Slocum: (10:19):
It’s very crazy. Yeah.

Scott MacRitchie: (10:20):
One of the things that we’ll talk about a little bit more is the workforce and things like that. But as we have Gen Z and millennials getting more cemented into the fire protection industry, the thing that I hear from them most often is, you’re telling me this wasn’t available ten years ago. And we have to explain to them politely there are listings, there’s process, there’s, there’s interpretation, there’s a lot of things that go into it. Uh, but it’s, it’s adding modern features to panels that are in the field. And, Drew, some manufacturers are looking to us to be that option, to be that connected piece as well. Cause it’s, oh wow. It’s different, going from manufacturing panels to being a connected IoT device; it’s a different type of R&D. Yeah. And you know, this from the software side, software developments, and getting connection and analyzing data. It’s not the same as, you know, the years of developing panels and boards and notification appliances. Oh yeah.

Drew. Slocum: (11:23):
And things like that. You can move faster. You can move so much quicker on the software side.

Scott MacRitchie: (11:27):
You, you can move crazy fast. I’m sure you walked by the booth at NAFED, and, you know, we had a 20-minute conversation about what; why aren’t we just doing this right now? Let’s, let’s just make this happen. So,

Drew. Slocum: (11:40):
Right, right. Yeah. No, yeah. We, I’ll promo it. We’ll talk about it later, but I was. Yep. It was kinda crazy how you were able to do that and send it to your developers so quickly to take a peek at some of our stuff. Yep.

Scott MacRitchie: (11:54):
Yeah, definitely. Um,

Drew. Slocum: (11:55):
So I want to start with the fire alarm. Uh, we have the fire alarm panel and buildings, mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but we have these fire alarm service providers. Yep. Uh, integrators, whatever you want to call them, contractors, whatever. Sure. What are the number one pain points for those service providers currently?

Scott MacRitchie: (12:18):
Yeah. Uh, I’ll, I’ll start with the labor side. Um, because, because when I walk in, the first thing that we always talk about, the bit you and I had some ban is we started here just going through the industry, it’s, Hey, do you know any technicians and <laugh>, you know, as, as OEMs of a product, we talk to a lot of contractors. We know a lot of the technicians because of it. So I always try to offer, yeah, I know this guy, I know this guy. How do we fill with, as technology providers, how do we help fill the labor gap? Because, as of right now, it’s not an industry that someone jumps up and says, oh, I want to be a fire protection technician when I grow up; I, I want to do these inspections. And it has nothing to do with the quality of the industry.
We’re just not the best marketers around here. Yeah. Um, we, we need to get better at it. And, you know, we’re a part of NAED now. We’re a part of some more organizations. The bigger BIOM gets and the youth movements and learning how to attract some of these individuals, the more technology we have in the industry, the more attraction we will have. With all this tech in place and the labor shortage, one of the things that we push on a lot is to use our platform, use our abilities to help keep up with customer demand as these inspections and service come up more often. So you’re making better decisions with fewer technicians and more focused on your day’s priorities. Yep. Because historically, the signals that come from a fire alarm panel and the amount of data that comes out of them, long, long, long lists of information that are difficult to interpret, and for the service providers, for them to say, yep, I need to do this, this, and this, and this. They have to do that manually. Right. What we can help provide for that labor gap is more; hey, this is, these are the recurring events, the most important ones. And this is all done within the software from the information we’re getting from the panels. So

Drew. Slocum: (14:36):
Yeah. You have to roll a truck. You currently have to roll a truck to go out and troubleshoot the panel.

Scott MacRitchie: (14:42):

Drew. Slocum: (14:43):
Yep. What you’re looking at is being able to do that remotely and then target what needs to be done and what doesn’t need to be done and roll the truck if you need to at that point.

Scott MacRitchie: (14:53):
Yeah, definitely. So, and a lot of these panels, if they’re just monitoring alarm trouble and supervisory, there needs to be more information or Right. Let’s say the contact list for Central Station hasn’t been updated in five years. We have projects we’re working on right now where the information coming out of the panels and heading to Central Station needs to be corrected, but they need to look for the right points to help diagnose the problems or give the information to the right people. So, as you said, they’re rolling trucks, not just service providers, but they’re rolling fire trucks. They’re, they’re rolling. Yeah. Um, incident control before they know for sure that it is truly something that has to be, um, that has to be acted on.

Drew. Slocum: (15:41):
Interesting. Labor is a big pain point, and it’s in every industry, but especially in fire, and it has been, but before the pandemic as well mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, is anything else bugging the service provider side that you can see other than just the labor side?

Scott MacRitchie: (16:10):
Yeah. For firearm is not a panel manufacturer. Right. That is one of the things we often talk about as a third-party device. You know, we, we don’t make panels, we don’t make devices. We are simply a data collection product. So when it comes to where we fill some gaps, if we have partners that aren’t direct with every panel manufacturer, we help them get a single login. They want to see their entire portfolio panels, and they want to avoid logging into this OEM’s product and this OEM’s product and this OEM’s product; we can give that high level of rich information in one single place. Because there’s, there’s nothing worse than, you know, going into a service manager’s office and he’s got, you know, five screens open over here and five screens open over here. I’m, I’m keeping tabs on, on all this. And the more we can condense as OEMs and, like you said, with software, right? Yeah. The goal is not to have ten different places to get information or upload information or keep track of things; one database, one place, keep it all in a way that our operations can get more streamlined. And, ultimately that’s, that’s labor. Again, that’s efficiency. That’s, that’s all the things that we’re, you know, that we’re going after here.

Drew. Slocum: (17:37):
Yeah. And every manufacturer’s a little bit different, even though the way it’s installed and the way it’s inspected is pretty much the same. Yeah. True. The panel and manufacturers also try to keep things proprietary. Right. Which is also, it’s a, there’s a pro and con there. If you have a certain distributorship, you will be locked in. Still, the majority of the panels that you’re doing in service and inspection on are not your proprietary or are not your distribution, your normal distribution. So you’re doing various panels that are out there in different locations. So Yeah. How do you, how do you do that at scale and manage that appropriately? Yeah. If you don’t have logins to whatever manufacturer panel, how do you, how do you do the inspection without having to essentially redo every device on that entire system and log it?

Scott MacRitchie: (18:34):
Well, you, you, and I talked about this a couple, couple weeks ago. Is pen and paper still the way many of these event verifications on inspections get done, and even the way that it’s then transmitted to customers? So, speaking of David Selmer, my, my first, uh, um, my first experience with inspections was a three-part form, and I laugh about that now, but that was

Drew. Slocum: (19:01):
Carbon, carbon copy,

Scott MacRitchie: (19:03):
Carbon copy, three-part form <laugh>. So that was 2003. And I know that, you know, they have moved into a new, more modern version of inspections, but 50% of the industry is still using some form of Excel spreadsheet, carbon copy. And a lot of it is, you know, manually interpreted. And that’s the piece we do differently than other methods: if you’re doing a three-part form, that’s one thing. But if you’re taking events from a panel and then interpreting an event, writing it down, and submitting it somewhere else, there are a bunch of cogs in that system that could be wrong. They could, right? They could have some variation on the signal that was received. So no manual interpretation; keep things in a central repository. Make sure that whatever comes out of that panel is exactly what needs to be shown for not only code requirement but, ultimately, the system’s longevity.

Drew. Slocum: (20:15):
Gotcha. Yeah, that makes sense. It totally makes sense. Is there anything in NFPA 72 that has changed to allow this? I guess I, my, my question. Yeah. And before we get into that question, Sure. Explain what the actual product is. You guys aren’t a panel manufacturer, but you say you’re collecting data. How do you, how are you doing that?

Scott MacRitchie: (20:41):
Yep, absolutely. So we manufacture an Edge gateway, and that Edge Gateway connects into today, connects into the 2 32 porter, the, the old prints report of the panel. And as the events come into that panel, we collect that information at the Edge device. And because we’re an Edge device, we take it, we interpret it at the device, and then we transmit it via a cellular connection into the cloud. Yes. The cloud, gotcha. Fun, fun buzzword. Right? But one one of the reasons that we do it that way is we wanna make sure that we can do it as quickly as possible. So because we’re computing it at the site and sending it, uh, you, you were by the booth within a couple seconds of me pulling a smoke detector off my, my, uh, demo kit there. We were getting notifications on our phone. And, you know, for us speed is huge. Yeah. Cuz a lot of times if you don’t have that, uh, that quick notification blasted out to all the stakeholders in a building or stakeholders of that panel, every second counts. It used to be hours, it used to be minutes. Now we’re, we’re talking about seconds of information right. At your fingertips.

Drew. Slocum: (21:57):
Right? Yeah. And then distributed to whoever. Right.

Scott MacRitchie: (22:01):
Whoever, whoever. And, and, and that’s a big piece of this is we, we do not charge, or our model does not charge for logins. If there are, if the end user agrees, of course we’re, we’re talking about data here. So this is an important, important piece to this. There has to be an agreement from that end user, or the building owner or the property manager, whoever is, is truly responsible for the information in that panel. They have to sign off on who has access to the data within their panels. But as long as they’re happy with the fire department, they’re happy with their service provider, they’re happy with their, even their jurisdiction, knowing the information, then we don’t have a limitation on the login creation. Cuz ultimately, if someone, if someone leaves the company true. Tomorrow, the cool part about technology is we cut ’em off,

Drew. Slocum: (22:58):

Scott MacRitchie: (22:58):
Let us know, and delete it. They’re gone. They have no access anymore. Right. So we don’t want to limit people to the information, but at the same time, the security of that information and the access that they have can be, it can be filtered, it can be customized to a point where if you don’t want the information, you don’t need to see it. Right. But if you want all of it, you can have all of it.

Drew. Slocum: (23:26):
Who owns it?

Scott MacRitchie: (23:27):
End user.

Drew. Slocum: (23:29):
End user.

Scott MacRitchie: (23:30):
End user owns their data.

Drew. Slocum: (23:31):
So the end user, meaning the building owner.

Scott MacRitchie: (23:33):
Building owner, absolutely. Okay. Yep. Building owner owns their data, uh, our license agreements that we work with in the events that an end user says, you know what, Hey guys, this has been great. I’m no longer interested. It’s just not something that’s adding value to my business and we’re gonna turn this off tomorrow. We are obligated by our end user license agreements to get rid of that information. So, um, you know, we are, it’s, it’s very important to us that while that information is within our system, that we keep it secure. But if that customer is no longer interested in having that housed

Drew. Slocum: (24:14):
Yeah. Get it out.

Scott MacRitchie: (24:15):
Yep. Absolutely. And I had this question come up a couple weeks ago, where does the information go? Well, if what should be happening is the end user and the service provider have a conversation, would you like your data? Is th would you like a copy of this? And if they say yes, then here you go. It’s sent to you. We get rid of it on our end. But in the events that they say, I don’t care, not interested. All right. Clean wipe, just like, just like getting rid of your iPhone information, you know, just Yeah. Erase.

Drew. Slocum: (24:45):
Yeah, just erase it. Yep. Um, so that’s, that’s the current module, right? Where you have this little gateway’s little box essentially, right. Connects to the box port. Yep. Uh, it’s got a device that sends back, uh, via 4G or whatever it is, 5G or whatever the device is.

Scott MacRitchie: (25:03):
Yep. Um, so cellular connection. Capable, capable of going up to 5g.

Drew. Slocum: (25:07):
Okay. Um, you’ve, and I don’t know if you could talk about it. So that one’s fully installed. What if you wanted to bring one around with you?

Scott MacRitchie: (25:17):
Oh, you’re killing me. You’re killing me. <laugh>.

Drew. Slocum: (25:20):
We don’t have to talk about it if you

Scott MacRitchie: (25:21):
No, no, no. We, we, we can. So, uh, ultimately, what happens when I, when I start to talk about our products, we call this the fixed piece. Okay. Right. So the fixed unit is very much end user centric, right? Because they’re getting logins, they’re getting user management, they’re getting customization. Um, they’re, you know, keeping track of their inventory. There’s an asset management piece of it that there’s a whole bunch of things that the end user can do, right? Uh, but of course we work with service providers and service providers are excited at the prospect of having a mobile version of our, of our product. So what I can say right now is, it is part of the roadmap. What I can’t say right now is how far we are, um, or, you know, release dates or anything like that. However, for all of you service providers and all of my OEMs that have come to me and said, I want this thing, we hear you. We understand, we know the pain points it’s gonna solve. So let the team do their magic. Cuz you know, the, the development side, um, Brett, I’ll, I’ll mention Brett. Brad Wilcox, our, our product manager, he is, he’s based out of Atlanta, um, works his butt off for us, man. He’s, he’s just, uh, an excellent part of our team and it feels like every time I have a <laugh>, I have some sort of an event I come back and say, Hey Brad, they asked for it again. He goes,

Drew. Slocum: (26:52):

Scott MacRitchie: (26:52):
Ah, come on. So

Drew. Slocum: (26:54):
I think every time I see you, I ask for it. Cuz I, I see the huge value in it cuz we didn’t get into the pain points of the building owners. Yeah. A lot of it’s, a lot of it’s a little similar mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, your current versions mainly on the, uh, the end user, the building owner side. I went straight to the service providers, which are, are similar pain points because they have to, they have to work for the building owner.

Scott MacRitchie: (27:16):
Sure. Absolutely. The the pain points, pain points, the pain points on the fixed piece. There’s, and, and here’s the, here’s the positive side for, for us right now, the pain points we can solve for an end user. We also help the service providers do as well. Cause I’ll ultimately, if you have a technician who doesn’t show up for work, he’s sick, he’s on vacation, whatever it is, our goal is to provide as much information about that site as possible within the platform if they’re out there to do an inspection or do service so they don’t have to walk in blind. We had, when I, when I was at Davis Omer, we had a couple technicians that were the person that had to go to this site and this site and this site. Right, right. Because they they knew the building. Yeah. They knew where all the devices were.

They knew, you know, how to get into that weird IT room because you needed an excess card key and they were friendly with, you know, the staff or whatever the reason. So our goal is to, let’s, if Joe doesn’t show up for work or has to go on vacation, we need Ryan to come in and do work at this site. And, you know, for us, not only could you have a senior technician back at the office helping that greener technician through that inspection, but they’re able to manage multiple people from the office. If you’re the service manager or senior tech, you could have five or six green technicians out in the fields that, hey, I’m not sure where this device is, or did I get that verification because we’re all connected now.

Drew. Slocum: (28:53):

Scott MacRitchie: (28:53):
We have the ability to help techs in the field way easier than, Hey, I, I’ll be there in an hour, I’ll be there in 30 minutes. Right. You know, we at Davis Sommer, we had a, you know, a senior technician, and I swear to, to this day, his phone does not stop ringing.

Drew. Slocum: (29:12):
Ah, that’s funny.

Scott MacRitchie: (29:13):
All, all into the night. And you know, with, with the right tools, Hey, what are you looking at? He could go on his, okay. Yep, yep. Okay. I see this here. And really help those technicians instead of him, okay. 45 minutes here and an hour here and Dr. Driving all over the place just to help solve some problems that if he had a better view, it’d be a little bit easier to manage those problems.

Drew. Slocum: (29:38):
Yeah. No, no, I agree. Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s gonna a lot, uh, I think for the industry as people start adopting it. How I guess, how has adoption been so far within the fire alarm community in North America?

Scott MacRitchie: (29:50):
Yeah, it’s, it’s picked up quite a bit in the last couple of months. So, um, you know, the first, the first year, you know, we’re a startup, we’re doing something new. I say technology, I say iot, I scared a lot of people as I walked into the old friends from, you know,

Drew. Slocum: (30:06):

Scott MacRitchie: (30:06):
Yeah. I’ve got a background with distributors, worked at Fire Trace for a long time. Had a lot of partners that I, you know, got Voice of customer from early on and, you know, the first, the fewest few months were okay, I get it. It’s cool, it’s a nice concept. But, but when we started to really get into the use cases and we solve this and we do that, and we got more specific on the problems that we were solving, that’s really when the light bulb started to go off. Right. So, you know, we’re, we’re working on, um, you know, some, some pretty nice partnerships. We’ll, we’ll display ’em at the show. I’m sure we’ll talk about N F P A later. Um, but, you know, you know, drew, from your perspective, I know we’ve been, you know, chatting for, you know, a little bit now as well, but a lot of the OEMs, not just panels, but software providers in different pieces of the industry are starting to understand what we can bring to their products as well.
Cause Oh, yeah. What what we do is we’re conduit, we take information from a panel and put it somewhere else, and we’re that in between that missing puzzle piece in the industry to help link everything together. So, you know, early adoption was, hey, nice magic trick, what do I do with it? And now it’s, oh, I have this one customer that has that problem. Can we talk about doing this at this site and this site and this site? So, um, it’s new technology. It, it was similar when, when I went on board at Fire Trace and we had, you know, a couple products that they weren’t listed or they were early in the process. And it ultimately, it’s not required. Right. And, and this is one of the things that we ran into all the time, um, at, at Fire Trace and something we had to overcome is we had, we had to sell that product. That’s a product that has a clear value proposition for certain aspects of the industry. But because it’s not required, it’s not just something you quote, firearm is not something you quote, you’re solving specific problems and providing a valued outcome for a service provider or a distributor, a service provider and user,

Drew. Slocum: (32:16):
Excuse me. Yeah. So you gotta show them their pain when they might not even know it sometimes. Right.

Scott MacRitchie: (32:23):
The biggest pain that I hear when someone says, when someone gets requested, one of our distributors like, can, can this panel send me a text message when there’s a problem? And that’s the most common thing that we get because that’s the tip of communication. That’s right. That’s the peak idea on how to get communication. What they don’t realize is the text message that they’re getting could do so much more. And, you know, we, we showed off our product at, at NAED this year, um, the mapping component, can you get a text message? You absolutely can, but you get a push notification that includes all the serial data from that panel, from that event location, uh, the device, the device type, the loca, you click on that push notification, you get a full list of all those events that have occurred within your filter. You click on that event, you get a building floor plan, Hey, oh man, this is where it is in their plotted location. So there’s no more guesswork. Yeah. It’s, it’s not, it’s not a, Hey, I, my, my favorite, my favorite comment from customers is always, Hey, my, my panel’s beeping. That doesn’t, that doesn’t gimme information. But what no <laugh> give, gimme something here. What, what does it say? And now they have something that they can clearly read on an interface and they can communicate with that service provider.

Drew. Slocum: (33:50):
Yeah. It’s, uh, yeah, the push notification. Yeah. Obviously you’re, you’re making it the ease of use for the end user as well as the service provider. Are, are there, um, yeah, I’m excited to see kind of how you guys grow and, and kind of what you’re releasing next and obviously, uh, continued partnership too, so, yeah. Um, on other iot news or just just items, what, is there anything in the industry that you’ve seen, I mean, you guys are kind of an auxiliary piece to iot fire alarm. Yep. Is there any, any different, uh, manufacturers coming out with anything that’s pretty interesting and, um, and, and I guess what’s the trend in the manufacturer realm as well and how, how, I don’t wanna say how they compete against this, but how do they interact with this?

Scott MacRitchie: (34:39):
Yeah. Um, here’s the cool part about software and iot. We know that none of us can do it on our own. Right. And that, that’s, that’s the overarching piece of where I see the industry going. So you’re a software provider. Uh, you know, we, um, uh, you had Travis from Fire Connect on Yeah. Uh, a couple podcasts ago. You know, he, he and I are chatting back and forth about cer you know, different things and all that stuff. Um, we know that we’re good at certain snippets of the industry.

Drew. Slocum: (35:15):
So wait, fire alarm talks to fire pump. I didn’t know that.

Scott MacRitchie: (35:19):
Believe it or not, all the signals within a system

Drew. Slocum: (35:21):
Always separate

Scott MacRitchie: (35:23):
Should be speaking. We should have information about every single piece of the system. And if we don’t have the full breadth of information Yeah. Then we could be missing something. Right. You know? Yeah. So if, if we have, and I, and I think about this from my suppression world of cross zoning, right? If I have one point that tells me something’s going on, that’s one point. If I have two and three and four points within a data set that tell me something is happening or could happen, then I feel more confident about whether it be the service, whether it’s the actual, uh, emergency situation we know and have more information about what is occurring. So industry trend, we’re all becoming friends. <laugh>. Yeah. And if you’re not open to being a friend of an ecosystem, then you’re gonna have to do that tech stack all by yourself.
And if you wanna do that tech stack all by yourself, you’re not gonna be good at something. You’re gonna eventually ask for. This ecosystem’s help, whether it be a firearm, whether it be an inspect point, or any of these other aspects of the industry. Cuz if you try to be, if the goal is to be excellent at everything, then customers are gonna get upset. Cuz we’re not experts in every little piece of this. So what you’ll see at N F P A and what you’ll see at our booth in particular is we’re becoming friends with as many people as possible. We’re getting really good at our aspect of what we’re doing. But ultimately you can do this, you can do this, let’s bring it all together and have the end clients. And frankly, the big word compliance as the a number one goal for products in this ecosystem.

Drew. Slocum: (37:18):
Yeah. I like, I like the, you know, I, i, I put a list together of all the, of our potential partners and it’s, it’s interesting cuz coming from a manufacturer, uh, there’s a lot usually competition, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but even competition now they’re partners. Yeah. Right. Yeah. It, they’re co competitors. It’s, everybody keeps saying so, oh, competitors, uh, co competitors. Yeah, it’s a Chris Logan, uh, fire Sprinkler podcast tagline, and I’ve been using it lately and, um, talked to some, some people at Honeywell. He liked that term this morning.

Scott MacRitchie: (37:52):
Yeah, I like that. That’s good.

Drew. Slocum: (37:55):
Yeah. What, uh, let’s get into N F P A. So next week. Yeah. Um, Monday through Wednesday, uh, what is it? Thes, what are the dates? 16th and the 19th,

Scott MacRitchie: (38:05):

Drew. Slocum: (38:06):
19th to the 21st.

Scott MacRitchie: (38:08):
20, yeah. 21st. Yeah, 21st.

Drew. Slocum: (38:10):
So what, uh, what booth number are you?

Scott MacRitchie: (38:12):
We are 4 42. Like the Oldsmobile Olds 4 42. Uh, all right. Brad Wilcox figured that out the morning he, or the moment he, got that information. <laugh>, he’s a big, big car guy. So we

Drew. Slocum: (38:25):
Put a request in for that number, maybe. Yeah.

Scott MacRitchie: (38:27):
Yeah. He, he might have. Actually, that’s, that’s something he would do.

Drew. Slocum: (38:31):
That’s funny. Um, anything to see there, you know, that I guess just stop by the booth, please. If you’re obviously rolling through the expo.

Scott MacRitchie: (38:40):
Yep. Uh, at, at our booth, we will have, uh, we will have our, our module. You’ll be able to pull smoke detectors off. You’ll be able to pull pull stations. Uh, anyone who’s never pulled the pull station before and wants to, to get that tactile feedback, they can do that. And we will have a real reporting panel sending information to a device at the show. So. Nice. Um, you know, we’ll, of course, uh, th this is kind of unique. Our inventor of the product will be on our booth. Uh, Nathan Brown, who is the principal and, and, uh, president of BCA Engineering that’s works with our team. Our L V X team in Australia will be at the show. So Oh, great. You know, all the sales and marketing stuff, all the partnership things that, that’s, that’s for me. But we will be showing off a hand portable monitoring device, um, as well that will, speaking of ecosystems, something that we’re gonna be bringing into our, uh, our line card here pretty shortly. Um, but we will be able to show off extinguisher monitoring products. We’ll be able to show off our fire alarm monitoring products, and we’ll be displaying some of the other OEM partnerships and distributorships.

Drew. Slocum: (39:50):
Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Did you say extinguisher monitoring?

Scott MacRitchie: (39:53):
I might have. I might have. Oh, wow. Did I break that out? Did I break that out too early? <laugh>

Drew. Slocum: (39:57):
No, no, you’re good. That’s exciting!  I know of NFPA 10, and it’s in the code now for some monitoring there. It’s just that nobody’s able been able to scale it and make it cost-effective, so. Yep. Uh, yep. It’d be really cool to see that.

Scott MacRitchie: (40:15):
So one, one of the things that we’re, we’re doing early on, um, is, we’ll, and, and I can say this all loud, I did get, I did get some permission, is, uh, we’ll have an Oval brand pan portable in our booth, and we’ll be showing off how we can monitor an Oval brand, hand portable, and interesting, as the industry knows, oval is typically a healthcare product. Yes. It is a hospital, you know, so solves a lot of problems in pain points within, within healthcare. Um, it’s a, it’s a premium brand and it’s a premium problem that needs a unique solution. So, you know, where, where do we start? If I were to go after every hand portable and every, sorry, pizza Hut, or you know, where wherever they are, it’s just not gonna fit. Yeah. It’s, it’s not gonna be, uh, something that a, a premium offering makes sense for in a, in a budget, but in a healthcare facility where they need to know things are in place, we’re gonna be able to show off how we can monitor those high-end hand portables and bring them into an ecosystem of, of fire.

Drew. Slocum: (41:21):
Yeah. I’m, I’m intrigued on that. My mind’s just starting to spin with the joint, joint condition, hospital, and healthcare. So

Scott MacRitchie: (41:28):
Yeah. And, and, and, and there’s a long way to go, drew. There’s a lot of things that have to be done to get us to a point where we can say, you know, it’s been accepted here. It’s been accepted here, but ultimately for us, we’re looking for a voice of customer. We’re looking for feedback. The long range wireless community and, and the smart infrastructure community wants to show off all these fire products, but everyone’s a little scared. Everybody doesn’t want to go down the route of listings and, and, and Oh yeah. And letting that kill the excitement before it even starts. Right? So for us to come and show off something that is, is, is on its way knowing that there are things that have to happen. W we want to interact with the community, we wanna get this feedback. So that’s Nathan being in the booth and, and for him to have that device, there is going to be a, a good dialogue for anybody that, that wants to stop by and talk about, you know, the future of fire protection technology. Yeah,

Drew. Slocum: (42:25):
Yeah, yeah. Well, I’ll, I’ll send. Unfortunately, I’m not making it to the show, but I’ll be sending my team over there to say hello and obviously take a photo or two cuz I know, you know, I think at some point we’ll have, um, uh, you know, an integration with you guys to be able to upload our file alarm device. Yep. And I guess they potentially could move to the extinguisher side once, once we see that product. But to be able to pull that automatically from, from firearm and then just dump it right into inspect point.

Scott MacRitchie: (42:59):
Yep. Absolutely. Have having something where if they fire, it’s all in a building, they’re using Inspect point as their, as their software for their inspections and, and service. Hey, inspect point button, you know, that’s, that’s the goal. Hit, hit the inspect point button, download it into your formats and, uh, upload it into your platform.

Drew. Slocum: (43:19):
Yeah. Pretty, pretty simple, but it’s a little more complicated than what you and I, uh, talked about. Nah,

Scott MacRitchie: (43:25):
Nah, <laugh>. We’ll let the software guys deal with that. Yeah, right. That’s, that’s the easy stuff. <laugh>.

Drew. Slocum: (43:30):
Well, let’s, uh, yeah, excited for N F P A next week. Um, uh, let’s, uh, let’s wrap this up. I, I do a, a set of quick response questions, so, uh Oh

Scott MacRitchie: (43:42):
Boy. Okay.

Drew. Slocum: (43:43):
Yeah, they’re pretty simple. I’m only gonna do, I’ll, let’s just do a couple, so. Sure. Um, I know you worked for, um, uh, fire Trace as well as Davis Elmer I on, I did some of the, what is your favorite suppression system? Why and the cool installation that you were involved with?

Scott MacRitchie: (44:04):
Mm, I’ll wrap it all into one and, and I have, uh, unfortunately I have a cookie cutter answer for this. Um, cuz I, I can’t divulge a lot of names. That’s part of fire protection. Uh, however, my favorite thing about working at, at Wire Trace and some of the things that we do is how we enable things to be made. So when I was at Fire Trace, we were on a lot of really unique manufacturing applications and some of the places that I got to, I, I was able to go in help design, help prospect. We, uh, we, we had these, these operations managers say, we can run 10% harder because we have your system. And that helps them meet customer demands and, and make things that ultimately moved. Uh, and I can say the world forward. I mean, we had some, some really cool customers that did some pretty amazing things. So long answer, but I can’t drop specific names. That’s, you know,

Drew. Slocum: (45:03):
A lot. You don’t have a favorite suppression system,

Scott MacRitchie: (45:07):
Favorite suppression system. I don’t know. Um, I would say my favorite suppression system, I’m looking towards the future a little bit. And there, there’s some, there’s some systems that are coming out, uh, in the future that can help solve some of the recharge problems. Hey, I had a dump and all of a sudden everything in my day turned into how do I get this thing refilled? Right? The future systems that I have been in contact with and heard about are actually the bottles that are in place. We can recharge them on site from what’s in the atmosphere.

Drew. Slocum: (45:49):
That’s the Oh, that’s cool.

Scott MacRitchie: (45:51):
Yeah. That’s, that’s, that’s, that’s the coolest thing for

Drew. Slocum: (45:56):

Scott MacRitchie: (45:56):
Yep. Because result, because ultimately if, if someone didn’t have Novec or f n 200 or, or whatever we were doing, it was

Drew. Slocum: (46:04):
A shut down.

Scott MacRitchie: (46:05):
It was a panic. Right. It was a panic and it shut down everything that we were doing that day and we needed to find it so that they could take occupancy again. So.

Drew. Slocum: (46:15):

Scott MacRitchie: (46:15):
That’s my answer.

Drew. Slocum: (46:16):
I like it. All right. Last one. Uh, you’re a Buffalo guy. Have you been involved or have you seen a table smash? Yeah,

Scott MacRitchie: (46:26):
Uh, so my family, so the bills went from the AFL to the N F L in 1960. And my family has had season tickets since 1960. So I have not been involved in a table smash, but plenty have occurred at the tailgates around us.

Drew. Slocum: (46:44):

Scott MacRitchie: (46:45):
However, I’ll, I’ll say this, a quick plug for Bills mafia. It started as a charity. That’s what will always be is a, is a charity. And then it has moved into the, uh, how do I say this nicely? Um, it, it has turned into the social media explosion that it is now, so

Drew. Slocum: (47:08):
Yeah. Well, as long as the charity’s in there, I think that’s a good thing, right?

Scott MacRitchie: (47:13):
It, it is, uh, yeah. What, what they did for the Patricia Allen fund, what happened when they broke the playoff droughts, um, for Andy Dalton’s charity and things like that. That’s, that’s usually what I try to refocus people to, right. When things happen. Uh, the DeMar Hamlin situation, there was a, a huge outcry for, for that as well. So, um, yes, there’s

Drew. Slocum: (47:34):
Possible, we,

Scott MacRitchie: (47:34):
We smash tables, but also <laugh>, there’s a good piece to it as well. Yeah, exactly. <laugh>.

Drew. Slocum: (47:41):
All right, well, let’s wrap this up. Uh, thanks again, Scott. Uh, yeah, thanks, Scott. Looking forward to next week. Uh, do you wanna give a, just a plug of where to find, find you on social media, email, whatever, any, any contact info you guys have?

Scott MacRitchie: (47:54):
Yep, absolutely. We’re, we’re very active on LinkedIn. That’s, that’s our number one place. Uh, we have a newsletter you can subscribe to about driving compliance with iot. Uh, we keep it as, as generic as possible, but of course, we’re an iot product, so, uh, a lot of it is focused on our capabilities and our partnerships. Uh, but LinkedIn is huge, uh, for myself as well. Not just Viam, but also for, uh, for me. And, uh, we’re Booth 4 42. Please come by and see what all this new scary technology is all about.

Drew. Slocum: (48:23):
Yeah. Yeah. Appreciate the time again.

Scott MacRitchie: (48:25):
Yeah, thanks Drew. Appreciate you having us on.

Drew. Slocum: (48:28):
Yep. Take care.

Scott MacRitchie: (48:29):