Today on the Fire Protection Podcast, Drew is joined by Ryan Fogelman from Fire Rover, an innovative company bringing AI, virtual firefighting, and fire prevention technology to waste and recycling facilities around the world.

Ryan shares about the genesis of Fire Rover and how the technology has evolved over time, including how it works with existing fire protection systems, codes and standards, and fire department response efforts.

A big concern in the industrial fire protection space: lithium-ion battery fires. Ryan discusses Fire Rover’s approach to suppression and how they support fire departments working to find better ways to fight these unique and increasingly common fires. “What we do is, we really focus on breaking the chain,” he says. “I spray all the collateral assets, and I try to let it burn itself out.” Ultimately, Ryan explains, “It’s not about stopping the fire…I’m going to let a battery burn itself out, that’s really what you have to do.”

Additionally, Ryan shares how he and his partners at Fire Rover got into the industry, what it means to have an entrepreneurial mindset, and what he sees for the future of fire prevention and the Fire Rover technology.

Tune into Episode 62 of the Fire Protection Podcast to see some of the key ways technology is transforming different areas of and industries within fire protection to enhance safety and improve outcomes.

Timecodes:

  • 00:00 – Introduction
  • 01:55 – Ryan & the Origin of Fire Rover
  • 04:51 – Fire Protection Challenges & Solutions in Waste & Recycling
  • 14:17 – Lithium-Ion Battery Fires
  • 19:05 – Standards, Codes, & Guidelines
  • 23:50 – More on Lithium-Ion Battery Fires
  • 30:26 – Ryan’s Background & Entrepreneurial Experience
  • 37:23 – Fire Engineers & Innovation
  • 39:41 – Conclusion

Full Transcript

Drew Slocum:
This is episode 62 of the Fire Protection Podcast, powered by Inspect Point. Today my guest is Ryan Fogelman of Fire Rover. Fire Rover is a newer technology–I have never seen this before. Kind of found it on social media digging through just new technologies, and it must have popped up. Anyway, Fire Rover’s working on challenging trash fires, recycling fires, transfer station–you know, when you get a bunch of trash or recycling or whatever, there’s a lot of things that can combust–electronics, EVs, lithium-ion batteries. Ryan’s really cool, he’s very entrepreneurial, it’s great to talk to him about, obviously the problem of these fires within the landfills and what they do there, but obviously Fire Rover has a pretty cool solution to do that. In the past, I had been involved in some of these big dry systems or daily systems with monitors on there, and they weren’t a great solution. So obviously there’s a problem out there. Trash and recycling’s just piling up more and more, and those fires get a lot more complicated, so they have a cool product. Again, Ryan was on chatting about that and just being an entrepreneur himself. So appreciate him coming on, and onto the episode.

Well, welcome Ryan to the Fire Protection Podcast. I know we connected recently and I’ve kind of been following what you guys have been up to over the years. So, I guess tell the audience who you are, what gets you up in the morning, and kind of your connection to fire.

Ryan Fogelman:
Yeah, that’s like two loaded questions, right? I mean, who am I and why do I get up in the morning? So I get up in the morning, I’m actually a capitalist. I believe that the world is–that the private market will solve the world’s problems, even though you have regulation and other things, and it’s never that simple, right? I believe that we need to teach people how to drive innovation–people being our citizens, to drive innovation. And I believe in the entrepreneurial mindset. So when I say that I don’t believe that an entrepreneur–an entrepreneur to me solves problems. The reality is that there’s a lot of entrepreneurs and you can have entrepreneurs and nonprofit, for-profit, social businesses, that type of thing. But the reason why I’m on this podcast is because in 2015, I started working with three guys who had started the Fire Rover.

They basically got a patent on it. And so what we do is we use thermal trending, we use optical flame detectors, we do everything that an AI system does, but we have a patent, a utility patent on the approach of using virtual firefighters. So really what we do is we have human beings who look at every single piece of hay in a haystack to find the needle. When we find those needles, then we can react. And usually that’s 15-20 minutes before any other fire protection is actually moving. So again, we do, we protect a lot of waste recycling, industrial facilities, outdoors, indoors, with line of sight, and we’ve put out a fire every other day, going on a fire every day for our over 600 systems that we have across the world.

Drew Slocum:
That’s crazy. I guess, how’d you meet these guys and then where’s their experience from? Obviously they’ve been in fire protection or fire safety.

Ryan Fogelman:
Actually no, these guys had been in the security business for scrap metal facilities, and one of the things you learned with scrap metal was that you’re really trying to keep people out, right? You’re not worried as much about safety. Again, this was in 2005 to 2015, but they had built a really good company, and what ended up happening was they were seeing these fires in scrap metal facilities and it was burning down their equipment. So, you know, one of my good friends from college calls me up. He’s like, “Fogelman, get up here. I want to show you something.” And they literally had built a red box, a 20 by eight container that was a big squirt gun, as you see it in the video. And that was our first product, and we brought it to scrap metal. I mean, the scrap metal guys were pretty happy with it, right? Because I mean, the last thing you want to do is burn down your entire building. And so we thought just like anything else, we’re like, oh, everyone’s going to want this. You’re going to blow up overnight. And just like anything else, it takes 10 years to build an ‘overnight success.’ So, that’s kind of where we are now.

Drew Slocum:
That’s cool. Yeah, you know, I’ve been involved over the years in some transfer stations and ways–mainly on the sprinkler and suppression side. But there’s always, and you may have some data, I know you had an annual report or something you put out there. But I guess, what is the problem in this? Obviously you get these transfer facilities with whatever is being sorted or disposed of, and there’s fires that happen all the time. Has it been getting worse or is there different materials out there that’s causing more trouble?

Ryan Fogelman:
Yeah, no, I think, I mean you kind of said it, right? It’s like there’s traditional hazards that have been causing fires for the last 50 years. I mean, just inherent in the risk of the occupancy. I mean, you’re in waste and recycling, you’re getting people throwing away chemicals and pool chemicals and hot briquettes and everything stupid that we throw away as the public. And then you have lithium-ion batteries, which at 15 really start to hit end of life. And I started doing the research. So, I have a seventh annual waste and recycling facility fire report for the US and Canada, and I’ve been tracking it since 2016. And really what we’re seeing is, in ‘18 we saw a huge spike and I call it the global wave of lithium-ion batteries. And then now we’ve seen it actually spike again.

But really the goal for me in the waste and recycling industry and Fire Rover is that we have nine of the top 10 waste recycling companies. There’s 10,000 potential–like scrap metal, MRF, and transfer stations in the U.S. and Canada. So, really the idea is I’ve never had a catastrophic loss start in an area that we protect. So, really the goal is for us to basically get a hold of our lithium-ion battery problem in the waste stream by catching these fires early and dealing with them fast, and dealing with them with the proper way to fight these fires. So that’s really what’s been changing in the U.S. and Canada. The reason we know this is it hasn’t been doing that with the AI systems out there because the AI systems are not working to the level that they need to in these types of very busy occupancies.

Drew Slocum:
Sure, sure. What do you mean that was about AI? Yeah, there’s an AI system out there, or is there different, I guess–can you explain what are the different–I only know, kind of the fixed fire protection systems, right? You have a detection method, a fire panel, you might have a sprinkler system, you may have a foam monitor or something like that. It’s not a video. I guess, what are the different ways to fight a waste facility fire?

Ryan Fogelman:
Well, yeah, and it’s a great question, right? Because the reality of this is that you can use thermal trending, so you can call it IR, but basically thermal trending can get you to where you know of a fire. The issue is that it tells you too late what it is. Now, you can catch it early, but you now need to have the technology to understand. We use human beings who look at it and say, “Hey, you’re having a fire. No, you’re not having a fire.” And then, not only do those virtual firefighters actually call the fire department, they do everything they need to do, and then they can spray and put a suppressant or water onto, directly onto the fire, usually 15 minutes before any other system would hit.

So, the issue is that a lot of people bought these automated systems, where it sees a fire and shoots it, and that’s okay for certain types of occupancies where there’s not a lot of movement. But when you’re dealing with waste and recycling, you’ve got forklifts and this, and you’ve got conveyors and you’ve got all this stuff going on in these locations. Again, same thing with scrap outdoors. You’re ripping up, you know, cars and all the different stuff. How do you know what’s a normal fire or hotspot versus one that’s going to cause an issue? And that’s really what we’ve built our expertise on. And working with the firefighters, working with the guys on site, to ensure the best outcome.

Drew Slocum:
Interesting. So, there’s human beings actually monitoring, so they’re not on-site, where is it kind of like a modified call center?

Ryan Fogelman:
Yeah. It’s a central station and we are there 24/7. We have butts in seats. You know, I mean, obviously if there was a nuclear bomb drop, that’s probably the only time you wouldn’t be able to not have someone behind. And we have fixed systems. So, we just did the largest battery recycler in the country with 106 detection zones, 57 cameras, a 250,000 gallon tank, and an inductor of an environmentally friendly wedding agent. And basically altogether, this is the number one fixed system in the world, because the reality is that, if you see something, you spray it and it’s early detection. It’s still a fixed system because it’s getting water from the main. And there’s a lot of these hybrid areas where you’ll have a location that might have a ton of conveyors. Well, it makes more sense for sprinkler systems. Or you might have bunkers, where it might make more sense for deluge systems. But this, as our skin on top of it, can be part of a fixed system or it can be its own system based on the back of the containers that you see in the back of our–in the video.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah. Yeah. So are those containers hooked to, obviously they’re hooked to a water main, but…

Ryan Fogelman:
They’re self-contained–like that container right there, all you need is a concrete pad, internet, electricity, and I can put a mass unit on it and shoot it. I can basically cover your outdoor hazard. So, a lot of these scrap metal facilities, paper facilities, all that stuff. I mean, that’s really, and again, we’ve been lucky that we’ve learned in waste and recycling, but the reality is that we’re trying to change the way the world fights fires, from the water, water, water approach to early detection and operation by a human, right? Because I mean, that’s really what our patent’s around, and that’s what differentiates us from anything else on the market.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, no, that makes sense. Now, so you have water in there, what type of, I guess it probably depends on the facility and what you’re protecting.

Ryan Fogelman:
Well, it’s always, we typically use water if they require it. And then there’s a product called F500 that’s an 18A NFPA encapsulator agent. We use gels. We use fluorine-free foam. So I mean, it really can use most liquids depending on what those look like. Because, I mean, everybody says that their product is the best, that it stops all these fires. I mean, we find that the biggest thing that you’re finding is how fast we get to it, is why. And again, we’re dealing with crazy fires. If you go to our YouTube channel, we have millions of views on a lot of these events. And from my perspective, safety doesn’t know competition. So our customers are allowing us to share these videos because this doesn’t differentiate their business. What differentiates their business is how they process the material. This is just fire protection.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, no, I saw a bunch of the videos. I’m like, man, your monitoring, your product is also your marketing product. Because you have all this security and surveillance on all this live video feed, and you can just take that and put it right into the marketing channel because it kind of shows it in action, right?

Ryan Fogelman:
Yeah, and there’s a little bit there too. But I mean, one of the things–so you have familiarity with tip floors, and a lot of times what we see is that a loader will go in and dig in and try to lift a fire out and lift it out. Well, eight out of 10 times, that’s totally fine, right? There’s a battery that went off, and it’s usually what we’re seeing now is about every other fire is a battery fire. So, as much as it works both ways where yeah, everyone’s dropping these vapes all in our stuff–that’s causing an issue. But there’s still, we can’t forget that there’s all these other hazards, like every other one that is still causing all these problems.

But usually the loader goes in, and what I try to tell people is that if it’s a deep-seated fire, you can maybe scrape the top of it or you can gently–but really what you’re supposed to do is pre-wet it, let us use our environmentally friendly wetting agents, let us use all the different material, stoke it so that now if it’s a battery, it can burn itself out. But if there’s accelerant–which we see, I mean so much accelerant, I don’t even know what to tell you, and I can’t even call it anything other than accelerant because they don’t even know what it is after it burns. It’s burned, so you don’t know what it is. But anyways, long story short, that’s really what I always tell people. Those loaders, if there’s a fire on a fringe or on the top, go grab it, but don’t go in. Because you’ll see on our YouTube channel, inevitably a loader goes in and it’s everywhere. And that fire that was easy is now–I mean, that fire, that was simple…

Drew Slocum:
You just added oxygen to it, right?

Ryan Fogelman:
You added oxygen, you pushed the accelerant everywhere. You took any sort of material that wasn’t already getting soaked. Now, you know what I mean? It’s like five different things that you’re doing.

Drew Slocum:
So the accelerant, are you talking more the lithium-ion battery stuff, or is it just accelerant in general?

Ryan Fogelman:
Lithium-ion batteries are usually an explosion and a spark. So ,we actually have optical flame detectors that we use for flash. We use smoke for steam analytics. We have all the AI that you could have, but I have a human being who’s my last. So it’s not to say–a lot of people think we’re automated. The problem is, and you understand this, if I look at a sprinkler system, it’s 181 degrees or whatever the number is for it to pop. Well, the problem that we have is that if you’re in a tall building with outdoor open area–and outdoors, usually, I mean the fire doesn’t go straight up. It either goes to the vent or it goes out to the other sides. And then, so what ends up happening is that even if that sprinkler’s working, it’s working over 20 feet and it’s putting out a fire below it, but it doesn’t hit the source.

For us–there’s a video that we just had where, when the fire department gets there, they’re working with us because we can still see the fire better than they can. I know that I’m spraying towards a hotspot where a firefighter or someone spraying a hose is really only spraying from the outside. They don’t know for sure if they’re hitting the right thing. And again, they’re doing a good job. I’m not questioning this, but, you know, most firefighters, they love our system because they can work with us. You’ll see one of our videos, you have their towers literally right next  to our nozzle, we’re putting the fire out and they’re basically telling us, making sure we’re hitting the right spot, which we are, and then they’ll spray a different nozzle at a different place. I mean, it really is cool. I mean, it’s not just about finding the fires for our agents, it’s about actually working and reacting and basically making sure we have a good outcome.

Just like anything else, we’re risk mitigation tools. So, when you were saying waste management and all the other big guys–a lot of these guys self-insure, so they use us. I mean, we have billions and billions and billions of dollars that we protect in property and client equipment. But we do it at a price that, even though we do have a cost obviously, we do it at a price that’s minuscule compared to what the premiums would be on that same type of risk.

Drew Slocum:
Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s been a problem. I always wondered–you know, I designed a few, or helped design, a few dry systems and some transfer facilities in New York when I was there. And I’m like, how is that sprinkler head going to go off and put that fire out? It was kind of, I guess you guys weren’t around at that point, or maybe there wasn’t much around. So we do get, I’ve worked with, and there’s a lot of fire protection engineers that listen to this podcast. I think, and maybe they don’t know you guys, but they get brought into a lot of these different facilities asking their opinions on, “Hey, what is the best fire protection for waste facilities and scrap facilities.” Stuff like that.

Ryan Fogelman:
Well, yeah. We have like 600 systems more than that in U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, U.K., and France. So our system’s a solution. We can’t just sell the equipment somewhere and say, “Okay, hey, in Singapore, they’re going to use this without us.” Right? I mean, it really is the full maintenance, the full monitoring, the full life bumper to bumper. And the reason I say that is that any fire engineer that’s interested, we’ve gotten–one of the fire engineers that I work with just received a formal variance in California for a C and D facility, which is construction and demolition, which is similar to all the scrap metal facilities. And we got Fire Rover as the primary system. So, I have a ton of variances. We’re almost FM certified, so we’re down that path, like 90% of the way done, for our continuous flow solution, which is the fixed system you’re talking about.

So I mean, we really are–you build the ‘overnight success’ over years, right? We’re finally at a point where we’ve proven what we’ve done. We have the KPIs to prove what we’ve done. And now, I mean, I love working with fire engineers, insurance company guys who are looking to mitigate risk, guys who are looking to do things a little different. We were lucky with waste and recycling, but the reality is that the world needs to be fighting these fires. And again, I’m not talking about high rise buildings, I’m not talking about–sprinklers are amazing for your home. Oh, I don’t want to say anything bad, but when you have high ceilings in an industrial setting or outdoors, then this type of system makes sense.

Drew Slocum:
Oh yeah, yeah, totally. It’s funny, when I talk to guests, I’m like, all these things pop up in my head as we’re talking.

Ryan Fogelman:
Please do.

Drew Slocum:
So this is a fixed–what standards do you use? Is it kind of a performance-based solution, or are you under any NFPA code or guidelines on the design of these? Or is it more like performance-based design?

Ryan Fogelman:
So, it has been traditionally performance based, right? So our system works as good or better than the alternative system. The alternative being the sprinkler system that they typically require in these facilities that, I mean, they’re just inadequate. I mean, only in these types of facilities. Again, I’m not saying that as a blanket statement. So I think we have been written into some of the appendixes, and we actually had a Fire Rover unit in the construction and demolition in the fire code that NFPA just put out. So I mean, there’s a lot of guys from a lot of the big fire engineers, they will back our stuff and they understand it. There’s a lot of guys who follow rules. And again, I get it. So now that’s why we’re getting the FM certification. Once we get that, there’s really not much that they could say from our–because I mean, we meet or exceed all guidelines that would ever have been set up by an insurance company or by most jurisdictions.

Drew Slocum:
Nice.

Ryan Fogelman:
But yes, I’ve been fighting that fight for 10 years.

Drew Slocum:
Who maintains the actual units when they’re in there?

Ryan Fogelman:
We do. So that’s the thing. So we can’t, right? I mean, I have to guarantee that this equipment’s going to work. I don’t want to guarantee that I put a fire out because that’s why you have insurance. But the reality is, I guarantee you that the system’s going to work when it’s needed, or we’re penalized. But the reality is that we maintain it, we monitor, we look at these every day to see if there’s a cobweb in front of it or if your piles are too high or, I mean, we’re constantly maintaining this, remotely and on site. If anything breaks, we come out. And again, one of the reasons we do a full bumper to bumper warranty–the reason we do this is because I don’t want my customer to have to do anything. So the reality is that when I call them in five years and say, “Hey, I need to replace this camera, it’s 12 grand.” And they’re like, what are you talking about? So that’s why we just have everything tied in. And then, you know, fighting fires is contentious in itself. I mean, everybody has an opinion on what you could have done different, what you could have done better, what you could have done worse. Usually, it’s not a, “Hey, that was perfect.” So I mean, that’s where, at the end of the day–I mean our customers trust that we’re their best shot at protecting them from catastrophic losses.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, no, I got to visit Sims Recycling out in northern California at one point, and I was like, man, this is quite the operation. It was kind of wild what they did there, and not only the equipment they had, but even just–scrap metal’s still worth money, right? It’s still a commodity at that point. So you want to be protecting the commodity, right? And trash facilities might be a little different.

Ryan Fogelman:
Well, and you just said it, right? I mean, that’s really funny. Because like the reputation of scrap in the country and the public is not a good reputation. But what I try to tell people is that, okay, if you look at curbside recycling–so there’s like a hundred million tons, and again, I’m probably getting the numbers wrong. But it’s like two thirds of everything that doesn’t go into a landfill and gets reused is steel, or is metal. About 30 or 25% of that is construction and demolition. So all that material goes in and like, you hear about these vape problems and all these problems. Well, those are curbside. Curbside makes up less than 10% of all recycling, but it makes up 100% of our minds of what recycling is. So I put out an article, it’s called “What’s Real Recycling,” which is scrap metal.

Everyone thinks they’re a nuisance, but they’re the real recyclers in the world. Same thing with construction and demolition. And then everybody thinks that them putting an Apple iPhone into the recycling bin, they’re doing a good thing. And this is why we, I mean, the public’s causing all these fires, right? That’s not–I mean, we cause these fires. How many vapes do you just throw into a garbage bin? I mean, it’s insane, right? You don’t even think twice about this stuff. You throw away lights and all this stuff every day. So yeah, I mean shame on us. I mean, in a good way.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, no. Speaking of the lithium-ion batteries, and I guess, what are you guys doing? You had that one facility you mentioned. There’s not a great way, obviously you can control those fires right now, but there has–I haven’t seen one at least, anything to really suppress those fires. Obviously it’s severe control, and it depends on the battery size and size of fire and all that. But what is your thought on lithium ion? And again, there’s a lot of R&D and stuff being thrown at it right now, but I guess, what are you guys doing?

Ryan Fogelman:
Well, so we had lithium-ion battery thrown at us in 2015, and so I actually just completed a course with 62 cohorts from across the globe. It was called the Battery MBA. And it was interesting because I got to learn the whole value chain, right? Every single thing that we’re trying to deal with, not just the end of life that I’m dealing with from a fire perspective. But a lot of the questions, as you can imagine, came down to the end of life because it’s the dangers of these in waste and recycling. We’ve been dealing with them since ‘15 in the United States. Really, the New York Fire Department in the last 24 months has really pushed the dangers. And by the way, all the fires in waste and recycling cause two deaths a year, about which–I’m not saying that’s good, it’s unacceptable. But I mean, the ones that are happening in people’s homes are causing, I think, 150 to 200 deaths.

It’s actually insane, right? Yeah. So I think the reality with lithium, and again, there’s a ton of guys out there who sell these materials that they say, we will suppress and stop thermal runaway. I don’t believe it, right? Number one, you’re not stopping thermal runaway. And the reality is, if you can stop thermal runaway, that’s great. It only makes the way that we fight fires better. What we do is, we really focus on breaking the chain. One of the videos you’ll see on our website or on the YouTube page, or again, you can link with me @ Ryan Fogelman, I have all my stuff basically on my fire safety report that’s on LinkedIn. 

But basically, what we do, you’ll see all these drums and pallets, and all the drums are filled with all the batteries that the guys from Lowe’s or Home Depot, bless them for taking these. Because the reality is we need people to really be the intermediaries. So we see those. So what we do is we spray all the material around it, right? I spray all the collateral assets, and I try to let it burn itself out, even inside that drum as it’s lighting, basically fireworks, boom, boom, boom, boom. But you just try to stay on the outside. And we’ve had a lot of success–we do 50 facilities that are battery recycling, specifically, or electronic recycling. So a lot of those, you don’t see as many of those because my customers in there don’t like to share how they do it because it’s still the wild west. But the reality is that it’s always about stopping the chain. It’s not about stopping the fire. I’m not saying that somebody else might not say it’s about stopping the fire. I’m going to let a battery burn itself out, and that’s really what you have to do.

The only other thing that I warn is that white–when you hear white and hissing coming out, that is not smoke. That is toxic gas. Literally, people are fighting these fires–and listen, I’m not saying that there isn’t a fire extinguisher that can be used for lithium-ion batteries that allows you to stand six feet up, for a professional in PPE, if they know what they’re doing. But any human being should not be unprotected standing six feet away from a lithium-ion battery fire that we see projectiles come out consistently. If you ever see them really tested, they’re tested in cages. So that’s really the big thing. It’s like it stopped the chain of events and then let it burn itself out. And again, whether it’s massive or one, I mean, literally it doesn’t make a difference. I mean, the bigger it is, the more power you’ve got to have.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, yeah. I follow the FDNY and what they’re doing there, and it’s like, I think they’ve just come out with something the other day of giving bags away, and I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. But did you see this, with FDNY giving out these lithium-ion bags for the battery? It’s something, but it’s just like, that’s not going to prevent it. It’s going to slow it a little bit, but it’s not going to prevent it.

Ryan Fogelman:
It’s the titanic effect, right? It’s like nothing’s a problem until there’s a major issue, and then it becomes something that needs fixed. So I’m not saying those bags don’t work, actually Call2Recycle, who has been doing an amazing job for 15 years collecting batteries, actually has a battery drop off with a bag that they claim will not start a fire. Again, never tested it, right? But they’ll put that in a Hallmark store or they’ll put it in a battery recycling store, and it’s supposedly– they allow them to ship in it. So again, sometimes, Drew, you know, in fire–I’m on the hazardous materials subcommittee, how the laws get made, where everybody throws stuff in, and then hopefully someone…maybe there’s someone who should yell about this and scream from the rafters. But I don’t know enough to do that. You know what I mean? But I mean, it’s better than nothing.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, no. They did something.

Ryan Fogelman:
I mean, on airplanes, now you at least have a bag. I hope it works, but you still get the toxic fumes, right? That’s the one thing that I think is, again, if you want to fight on the front lines, you’ve just got to be protected. That’s my biggest thing, like an aerator. You’ve got to make sure you have the right material. OSHA just changed the rules on fire brigades to emergency response teams. And again, hopefully, it brings out the right type of behavior where we see guys who are on the front lines. If you’re going to fight a fire, fight it from 90 feet away, don’t fight it from three feet away. They have CAF systems that you can use that are just like a fire extinguisher that you can spray 90 feet and at least be safe enough that you’re not getting hit by shrapnel or projectile or something. Because one person gets killed, and this is all you and I’ll be talking about for the next two years, right?

Drew Slocum:
Oh, yeah. Yeah. It’s kind of nuts, that. But it’s obviously the hottest topic out there. And it’s good that you guys–I was really intrigued when you obviously reached out, but I’ve seen you guys around before and I always thought it was an issue with these fires out there. No, this has been great, Ryan. So a couple quick response questions that are totally off topic, right? You did mention you met these three partners. Are they college buddies of yours?

Ryan Fogelman:
You know, yeah, no. So, Brad called me. Brad was, I went to high school with him, and then I went to college with him, he was a fraternity brother. And I’m 48 years old–so at 40, I decided to only work with people that I trusted, and again, at least the people that you trust, you know what they’re going to do to you. Where the other guys, I just didn’t, I had a couple not great experiences. I worked on three companies. One was COhatch with my partners that I’ve known for a long time. One was a product called Stick Grip for Hockey Sticks, and that was with one of my fraternity brothers. And then Brad called me and I was like, yeah. So I mean, I came up, listen, I’ve loved it. I mean, Brad unfortunately passed away in 2019. So we’ve really, I mean, he didn’t get to see the–you know, 2020 was probably the year that we really started getting this out.

I still think, if you look at waste and recycling, we were lucky that we were able to cut our teeth in waste and recycling because there’s very little regulation. And most, like you said, most sprinkler contractors or most jurisdictions have kind of–like it’s a necessary evil. They’ve thrown their hands up from a fire protection–and they’re just okay with having 15 to 20 major catastrophic losses a year.

So, I believe our solution is actually made for hangars. I mean, if you think about the 30,000 deluge, 409 was just changed to allow for a targeted deluge system. Ours is perfect. I can fog spray it onto fuel if I have to. I can straight stream it into certain spots. I’m not hitting anything on the aircraft that is valuable, unless it’s on fire, obviously. So I think that the real excitement for me is not waste and recycling.

I love them. I think they’re great. And again, I think we can, it’s pretty clear you can solve your problem by great best practices, educating the public as well as we can, and technology, right? So, how can we now do this in hangars and refineries and all the other high-hazard stuff that’s going on in the world with an early detection and a targeted solution, with humans, right? And the one thing I was saying to you before, it’s not always about hitting the target, it’s about collateral assets. It’s about not hitting certain things. So that’s where a lot of these AI systems fall down, a lot automated systems fall down as well.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, I know 409 semi-decent. Did a lot of those, obviously fixed design or helping them, and even on the industrial side. There’s obviously challenges there. And there’s been some changes there too, with 409 over the years, and especially with foam, with everything going on with foam. But now I asked you that question about college because I’ve worked for some pretty big fire protection companies and then did this startup with Inspect Point with one of my fraternity brothers, and he’s CEO and I’m here with him. And it’s kind of funny, you go back to the roots and kind of create a company from there. It’s obviously a lot of trust, and yeah, it’s interesting to hear that story. So that’s why I brought it up.

Ryan Fogelman:
Well, and it is, so one of the other companies that we built at the same time was COhatch, and we basically go to walkable neighborhoods–and we have 600–200 boost scholarships and 400 gift scholarships. So really it’s all startups, it’s nonprofit and for-profit startups, because honestly, a nonprofit startup has the same issues that a for-profit does. But, I mean, literally, my passion every day is to try to help people, at least give them the resources within their reach. They might have to go out and get it. I mean, we have 8,000 members that they can work with, but we’ve seen so much success over the last 10 years in that type of, basically, show and tell type of culture model, that it’s done really well. And again, so I’ll talk startups all day long. I mean, this has been, you know, a self-funded labor of love, family-owned business–we still have the same owners that we had pretty much since ‘15. And it’s amazing. The real innovation can come out of people who had no idea what fire was. I just wrote an article, I’m like, I didn’t know anything about fire until 2015 besides lighting a campfire.

Drew Slocum:
That’s funny. That’s funny you say that. Yeah, I was the fire person. And then the three other co-founders of ours, they had no idea what fire was. Right now, all of them are, they’re probably one of the…they’re experts in fire protection.

Ryan Fogelman:
Well, and that’s where literally it takes–what do people do? I follow a lot of American history, it’s my favorite thing, and you apprentice, you learn, you ask questions, you talk to people. I mean, and that’s where I say the entrepreneurial mindset is really, “How do I have a problem or obstacle that’s in front of me and go over it without getting stymied in the fact that I can’t figure out a solution.” It’s tactical a little bit. Sometimes you’ve just got to wake up every morning, do something that moves the needle, even if you don’t know if it works in that vision, and you’re like, okay, I got to do something today. I got to do something. So, to me, that entrepreneurial mindset works in everything. You’re really just trying to make everything better, and you’re never satisfied with the status quo.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, no, it creates new ideas and solutions to problems that we have. Ryan, where can we find you? Where can people listening in or watching find Fire Rover, yourself, and any more info?

Ryan Fogelman:
Yeah, LinkedIn is probably the best. I have a fire safety report that I’m about to hit 10,000 members that opt in. And so that’s one. I have a ton of articles that I write for Waste 360 and for the American Fire Journal–American Fire Safety Journal used to be, they just opened the Americas version. But yeah, I mean, I write articles, I have one coming out on best practices for high bay and canopy structures, and that was written with a fire engineer named Andy Lynch. So I know

Drew Slocum:
Oh, I know Andy!

Ryan Fogelman:
Yeah, Andy,

Drew Slocum:
Yeah. He was on this podcast early on talking about his AR technology. He had an AR technology, I think.

Ryan Fogelman:
Yeah, he still has it. He’s still working on it. And again, so I work with fire engineers that believe in some innovation. And again, it’s like half. Some guys are just like–we had a blimp that a fire marshal in Roswell, New Mexico wouldn’t allow us to get around the 409 code based on the fact that there was a blimp inside this hangar that only had a battery, right? Nothing else was dangerous, but it was like, I need the 30,000 gallon deluge system. So again, I’m not saying that we should all just throw all the rule books out, but I mean, there is–you know, innovation in fire is very difficult. And I’ll tell you, every person that I talked to said,”If you ever get FM certified in the next 20 years…” And we’re on 10 years, we’ve been written into. And Andy, he sits for all of our NFPA. So I mean, he really is a big part of what we’re doing. And listen, any fire engineer, any fire company that wants to have a new solution, I’m happy to work with them and get them integrated. And again, I’m not competing with fire sprinkler, right? I’m actually saying, “Hey, we’ll just take over this little piece of where it works and you do everything else.” So there’s no business to really lose. But I think a lot of people see our system–it’s not a replacement unless the building’s small enough for it to be a replacement.

Drew Slocum:
You still need them in the building, right? While you still need them in the building, it just enhances everything else, right?

Ryan Fogelman:
100%. I mean, if you’re doing a 10,000 square foot building that’s open, no, you don’t need it. Right? But if you’re doing a typical building with equipment and other things, I mean, yeah, you need the best fire protection in every zone. And I mean, Drew, you understand that, right? You got to say, okay, how many times have you looked? You’re like, I don’t know how we should handle this. And you put your heads together and you figure it out. So, we’re just a tool.

Drew Slocum:
No, this is great. Can’t wait to learn more. Hopefully, see that FM approval sometime soon. Right. And yeah, we will get this out, and appreciate you coming on the podcast, again.

Ryan Fogelman:
No, and I appreciate it. And I’ll let Andy know that Drew was really excited. Let me ask you. We got to make sure this does better than his, right. So I mean, how many watches did he get?

Drew Slocum:
I don’t know, probably a few thousand. It was early on, so I should catch up with him. Because there was some really cool technology that he was working on.

Ryan Fogelman:
Well, yeah. And then he’s the one who designed the facility and the recycling facility. So I mean, again, we have a bunch of different fire engineers that work with us, but Andy knows our system the best out of anyone in the world. So I would say having him on would–again, he’s always up to, he has his hands in a lot of different pots. Right? He’s very interesting. But I’m sure he’ll have some insight. But I’m happy to join you anytime. I mean, just let me know.

Drew Slocum:
Thanks again, Ryan.

Ryan Fogelman:
Cool. Thanks, Drew.

Drew Slocum:
Right. Yes. See you.

This has been episode 62 of the Fire Protection Podcast, powered by Inspect Point. I want to thank Ryan Fogelman from Fire Rover for coming on, talking about this kind of niche inside of the niche of fire protection for landfill, trash, recycling facility fires, and what they’re doing and what the challenges are still there. So really cool to talk about this technology and get that knowledge out to the masses. So thanks again for listening and we’ll see you again soon. Take care.