PFAS Restriction Report

February 9, 2023

This Annex XV report addresses the risks to the environment and human health of the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and provides an assessment of the effectiveness, practicability, monitorability and socio-economic impacts of two restriction options (ROs) under REACH as the most suitable risk management option (RMO) to address the identified risks.

PFASs are a group of thousands of mainly man-made substances that are used in numerous applications in the EU. These applications comprise uses in textiles, (food) packaging, lubricants, refrigerants, electronics, construction and many more. The substances are used as substances on their own (either non-polymeric or polymeric) and as constituents in mixtures and (complex) articles for consumer, professional, and industrial uses.

Read the full report below:

Letters to the Editor (3M Shocks the Industry)

February 2, 2023

The Fire Protection Industry, and specifically those of us that focus on special hazard and clean extinguishing agent fire protection systems, was shocked by the sudden announcement by 3M on Tuesday, December 20, 2022, that they would be ceasing production of their Novec TM 1230 Fire Suppression Fluid at the end of 2025.

This announcement caught many of us off guard, and immediately prompted many more questions and emotions than it probably should have, but completely understandably so. After all, the industry consensus is that the 3M organization was one of the key lobbyists involved in getting HFC Fire Suppression Agents targeted by the EPA for eventual Phase Down because of their “High” GWP when released to the atmosphere and their atmospheric lifetime of 30+ years, but all the while the manufacturing of Novec TM itself results in the creation of PFAS (aka “Forever chemicals”) that get discharged into the environment and never go away and may even pose a more significant threat than what HFCs do.

After several years of “HFC Slandering” that only contributed to more doubt, confusion, misinformation and the miseducation of the market in general, 3M finally “won,” and as a result of the HFC phase down that began January 1, 2022, their product was literally going to be the last and only choice for any clean agent fire extinguishing system. Yet here, less than a year into their victory tour, they’re withdrawing from the market altogether….so what is the “real” deal?

The “real deal” that we’re coming to learn has been a very fast paced and moving target, and at the same time very enlightening. It turns out there were 60 total products that 3M identified as creating PFAS as byproducts of combustion, and Novec 1230 was 1 of the 60. As an organization 3M was likely not feasibly able to differentiate or justify the market value of keeping any 1, or 5, or 10 of these items, and made the corporate decision to eliminate them all.

The “further details” we may soon come to learn is whether or not the additional steps that 3M took to make their brand of FK-5-1-12 “better” is what actually contributes to the PFAS as a byproduct of its production.

Regardless, 3M certainly spent many years of resources and several hundreds of thousands of dollars successfully marketing their FluoroKetone product, and had placed their FK-5-1-12 molecule at the top of the list of the most desirable fire suppression agents, only to now abandon their own recipe and success, thus leaving the industry to once again abruptly start thinking about “what’s next?”

In the immediate future, even though Novec 1230 may no longer be “preferred” and will not be manufactured post 2025, FK-5-1-12 is expected to be readily available through several other manufacturing channels for many years to come.

Our industry’s biggest challenge is going to be managing the public’s interpretation of this news. Many of our AHJ’s and A&E’s associate FK-5-1-12 with Novec 1230 (like Kleenex with tissues, or Xerox with copier machines), but just because Xerox closed their doors doesn’t mean copying machines ceased to exist. The same would apply if Kleenex suddenly stopped making tissues, and it’s our job to ensure the market understands that FK-5-1-12 will not disappear as well, or perhaps more importantly that the market understands there are other very viable solutions that can be utilized.

Environmental initiatives are nothing new, and whether we know it, or want to acknowledge it or not, the USA has always lagged a few years behind Europe when it comes to environmental policies driving fire protection preferred practices or standards, and the most common fire protection systems for the past several years in Europe have in fact been WATERMIST and INERT GAS.

They evolved to those standard approaches because of environmental initiatives they have always had and strived for that the US has historically pushed back against or been reluctant to adopt. But slowly over time (and presidential administrations) those same environmental initiatives are starting to have more prominence in the US, and we’ll eventually be left with no choice but to adapt and overcome.

It is very unfortunate that we are the ones left to deal with the ramifications of 3M’s recent decision, but if any industry and group of experts know how and have proven to be able to weather these types of storms and overcome these types of challenges, it is ours.

One of my favorite quotes is “Every adversity carries with it a seed of equivalent or greater opportunity” and, while we didn’t necessarily need any more unexpected adversity after everything we’ve dealt with the past few years, we always welcome great opportunities.

— Halonman

The Air Up There

February 2, 2023

By John Demeter

Once again, the Special Hazard Fire Suppression Industry is faced with a challenge. Some call it an existential threat. Others call it a speed bump. Whatever the outcome, 3M’s decision to end production of its fire suppression fluid, Novec 1230, will occupy discussions, trade association activities and business strategies for the balance of 2023 and beyond.

In 1994, Halon 1301, the world’s first reasonably safe and commercially successful “clean agent” was banned from production because it was determined to be an ozone depleting substance. In the early 2000’s we learned that Halon’s successor, FM200, was a global warming chemical and the industry would spend over a decade not knowing if FM200 (HFC227) would too be banned or phased down. Either one would be a blow to the industry.

In 2021, because of the AIM Act, the production of FM200 was capped and regulations put in place for an 85% phasedown.

Now, in 2023, the industry is faced with the possibility that Novec 1230, the fire suppression agent developed and marketed as the environmentally friendly (non-Ozone depleting and Non-Global Warming) replacement for FM200, could potentially fall into the category of “Forever Chemicals” or PFAS and possibly be banned or highly regulated.

There is ample scientific evidence that Novec 1230 (FK-5-1-12) while considered a PFAS, falls outside of the category of products that pose a threat to humans or the environment. Studies have shown FK-5-1-121 to be non-pervasive, non-bio accumulative and non-toxic. Nevertheless, it is on the hit-list of the European regulators. The U.S. may not be far behind.

As of this writing, no one knows where this issue is headed. (Though, it does make the entrepreneurial class among us consider investing in the manufacture of aluminum buckets, sand, and sodium bicarbonate.) The European Union is scheduled to release its report on PFAS restrictions on February 7th.

This will give us an indication of how difficult of a battle the industry faces. One thing is certain. The Novec brand has been deeply tarnished. Unknown is the future of Fluoroketones in the Special Hazard Fire Suppression Industry.

(Note: The 3M salespeople we have known for years have been nothing but professional, candid and honest in working through this issue . As for the 3M C-Suite Suits? That’s for another column.)

Janus Fire Systems Sold

December 5, 2022
Janus Fire Systems

Effective November 1st, 2022, Janus Fire Systems has been acquired by new ownership – South Central Inc. South Central Inc (SCI) is the family office and investment company for the Engelbrecht family of Evansville, IN. For three generations and over 75 years, SCI has believed that being in business is an honorable calling that makes a difference in the world.

Under the new ownership team, Janus Fire Systems will continue to offer the same quality products and service you have come to expect. All members of the management team will remain in place.

Our tax identification number will be changing, however, and we will be submitting new banking and financial information to you separately. It will be arriving from your standard contact from our financial department. Please be advised our official company name for this documentation will be JFS Holdings, LLC, doing business as Janus Fire Systems.

Please contact me or your sales representative if you have any questions regarding this. We thank you for your continued support.

Very truly yours,

Fred Hildebrandt
Director of Sales

The original letter can be found here:

Food Retailers Prepare for HFC Phasedown

November 14, 2022


INDUSTRY CHALLENGES: From left to right, Russ Barnthouse, Nick Doherty, and Jim Salamone talked about some of the challenges facing the industry, including the refrigerant transition and labor shortages. (Staff photo)

By Joanna R. Turpin

Meeting for the first time since 2019, the Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI’s) 2022 Energy & Store Development Conference was recently held in Orlando, Florida. The three-day event consisted of numerous peer-led sessions, which covered everything from new refrigeration technology to changing store formats to regulations that are requiring the phasedown of HFC refrigerants.

Many things have changed since the last meeting, as the pandemic fundamentally shifted the way stores operate and how consumers want to shop. In addition, the passing of the AIM Act in December 2020 means food retailers will need to make plans for transitioning away from high-GWP refrigerants in their refrigeration equipment.

As Andy Haig, vice president of tax, trade, sustainability, and policy development at FMI, summed it up during a panel discussion, “The EPA is a much bigger player than they ever have been, and there’s a host of rulemakings that are currently underway. To this environment you have to throw in COVID, supply chain challenges, workforce challenges, getting components, as well as the uncertainty that goes with this. This is an ever-changing field and I think people are extraordinarily nervous that they make the right decisions at the right time.”

Refrigerant Transition
Seeking to help attendees make these right decisions were Nick Doherty, refrigeration engineer at Cushing Terrell in Missoula, Montana; Jim Salamone, branch manager of the Northeast Region of Climate Pros in Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania; and Russ Barnthouse, P.E., executive vice president of United Refrigeration Inc./National Refrigerants Inc. in Lenexa, Kansas. During the aforementioned panel discussion, these experts discussed some of the many challenges affecting the industry, including the refrigerant transition, new store formats, and the labor shortage.

Barnthouse discussed how this refrigerant transition differs from the last one. He noted that while there was essentially a 30-year window to transition from R-22 to R-410A, the AIM Act has far more aggressive stepdown goals. Indeed, the first big production cut occurs in 2024, when HFC production must be reduced to 60% of the baseline established by the EPA. Another big cut comes in 2029, when HFC production will be reduced to 30% of the baseline.

“We as an industry are going to need to work together to meet those goals,” he said. “I think that CO2 is going to be a part of this solution, as well as A2L refrigerants. But in order to move forward, we need to have some certainty in the industry. We need to know what [GWP] levels we’re trying to attain. And, quite frankly, we need EPA to approve some of the proposed [A2L] refrigerants that are out there. Once we have that certainty, OEMs can start developing more equipment, and investment can happen. Without some certainty, it’s harder to make that investment.”

As for what food retailers can do now to prepare for the HFC phasedown, Barnthouse advised them to start making plans for how they will operate their existing stores once supplies of refrigerant start to drop. This includes properly reclaiming and banking refrigerant, as well as fixing leaks.

The latter point is important, said Salamone, and contractors should be helping their food retail customers develop a solid leak management plan. To that end, everybody needs to understand not just what to do and how to do it, but why they’re doing it, he said. He’s found that explaining the regulatory environment and what is needed to support their customers helps technicians better understand the importance of what they do.

“We encourage our technicians to start up that leak detector up and keep it on,” he said. “We leak check on every call, because it’s that important. With today’s technology and leak detection systems, you can get early indicators to drastically reduce leak events. The other piece is documentation, because you can have the best practices in the business, but if your team isn’t documenting exactly what they’re doing and getting that information into the customers’ database, it might as well have not happened. That’s a key point.”

Food retailers should also start evaluating their current refrigeration equipment and understand what they have in their store, said Salamone.

“Historically, there’s been a lot of attention paid to merchandising — what’s on the sales floor — and back rooms tend to be neglected. I think that sometimes owners might not really understand what they have and what their exposure is going to be to this upcoming regulation.”

Store formats are also changing, and combined with the refrigerant transition, new types of refrigeration architecture are being used to meet food retailers’ goals. For example, distributed systems are often used in smaller format stores, which usually range in size from 40,000 to 60,000 square feet, said Doherty, and CO2 systems are also an option for larger stores. But the commercial refrigeration industry is still waiting for the approval of A2L refrigerants.

“I’m assuming long term that there will be approval on increased propane charge sizes and that there will be approval on A2L refrigerants,” he said. “You can’t really plan a whole lot around it right now, but I do believe that it’s going to happen. We’re getting there, we’re seeing equipment that is meeting our needs for smaller stores and being able to add on that fulfillment center to the grocery store. It’s just a matter of planning for the future right now, and it all starts with understanding what the store’s needs are, and where they want to go.”

Labor Shortage
As new refrigeration technology becomes available, the need for skilled technicians to work on it becomes even greater. That’s why attracting new people to the industry — and keeping those already here — is extremely important. Salamone believes that predictive maintenance is the key to the future when it comes to technician retention.

“With predictive maintenance, instead of receiving an alarm for a case at 3:00 a.m., you can see if that temperature is acting abnormally. Then you can schedule technicians during normal working hours, Monday through Friday, in most cases,” he said. “There’s always going to be overtime, weekends, nights, and weekends, but I see this as an opportunity to retain talent.”

This would help address one of the biggest challenges in the industry, said Salamone, which is that while technicians may like to work on refrigeration equipment, they don’t want to be called out to a supermarket to fix something in the dead of night.

“I think in the future, there’s real opportunity to manage that,” he said. “And to give that flexibility to the younger generation, which is very important. If we’re going to attract talent, we need to find ways to have an environment that’s a little more flexible than it has been historically.”

Another way contractors can address the technician shortage is to completely change the way new employees are brought into a company. Salamone noted that when he started in the industry, he was given a van, some inventory, and told to head out into the field and prove what he could do.

“That needs to change. In our company, when we onboard technicians, we spend a week with them before putting them in a van and sending them out into the world,” he said. “They are going to be familiar with all the documentation, as well as the specific requirements of our customers. They’re going to be comfortable and feel appreciated.”

Salamone’s company is further training their technicians at their in-house school, Climate Pros University, which is essentially an operational supermarket in Glendale Heights, Illinois. An additional school will be opened soon in Texas, with others opening in other regions.

“This indicates to our technicians that we’re investing in you. We are here, you have a career path, you have the ability to grow into this industry and not just stay where you are. You’ve got an opportunity here,” he said. “Showing the techs that there’s way more opportunity than what’s right in front of them helps attract and retain talent in our market.”

The original article can be found here:

EPA Issues HFC Allowances for 2023, Plans for 2024

October 31, 2022

HFC ALLOWANCES: EPA recently issued HFC allowances for 2023, as well as announced the methodology it would use for future years. (Staff photo)


By Joanna R. Turpin

As part of the AIM Act, the EPA is directed to phase down production and consumption of HFCs to 15% of their baseline levels in a stepwise manner by 2036 through an allowance allocation and trading program. The methodology used to issue allowances for 2022 and 2023 was detailed in the Framework Rule and was based on the three highest non-consecutive years of production or import between 2011 and 2019.

EPA recently issued allowances for 2023 and they are at the same level as in 2022 per the phasedown schedule, although the number of entities receiving allowances next year will increase slightly. These allowances will be valid between January 1 and December 31 of 2023 and represent the privilege granted to an entity to produce or import regulated substances in that year.

Figure 1 shows allowances for entities receiving greater than 0.5% of all consumption allowances in 2023 and aggregates those entities receiving fewer than 0.5% of all consumption allowances, while Figure 2 illustrates the production allowances allocated to each entity for 2023. Entities will need to expend allowances in order to produce or import bulk HFCs. Producing HFCs will require expending both production allowances and consumption allowances, while importing HFCs will require expending only consumption allowances.

Honeywell received the largest application-specific production allowance for HFCs in 2023 and the company continues to support a coordinated effort to transition from high-GWP HFCs to lower-GWP solutions.

“We have maintained close observation and awareness of the industry for years, anticipating the need for more environmentally friendly, low-GWP solutions,” said Jeff Dormo, vice president and general manager of fluorine products at Honeywell Advanced Materials. “We are proud to continue to drive significant progress through our Solstice portfolio of ready-now HFO solutions, which are alternatives to HFCs. We continue to invest in this platform, which has already resulted in a positive environmental impact.”

Similar Methodology
Shortly after releasing the HFC allowances for 2023, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan signed the proposed rule, Phasedown of Hydrofluorocarbons: Allowance Allocation Methodology for 2024 and Later Years, which focuses on the second phase of the HFC phasedown. The rule proposes to establish the allocation methodology for the “general pool” of HFC production and consumption allowances for 2024 through 2028.

EPA is proposing to continue applying a similar methodology to allocate general pool production and consumption allowances as it previously did for calendar years 2022 and 2023, while incorporating former new market entrants from an earlier set-aside pool as general pool allowance holders. EPA notes that implementing the current methodology through 2028 will align with the next phasedown step, which occurs in 2029. This will allow EPA to consider lessons learned from implementation, prior year use of allowances, and any concerns surrounding distribution of allowances.

Some in the HVAC industry would have preferred a different methodology be used for 2024 and beyond. Daikin, for example, noted that while the company appreciates EPA’s efforts to implement the AIM Act and the orderly phasedown of refrigerants, it is disappointed that the proposed rule for allocating HFC production and consumption allowances starting in 2024 does not provide an allocation to air conditioning equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that use HFCs in their products.

“This is a valuable tool that could have been utilized by EPA to enable OEMs to better plan, invest, and innovate for the future,” said David Calabrese, senior vice president of government affairs at Daikin U.S. “The OEM allocation would encourage more market participants, improve market stability, and provide the HVAC industry with the certainty and predictability needed to innovate for the future — ensuring an orderly and economically beneficial phasedown with U.S. investments and jobs, just as the AIM Act intended. The EPA can support the industry’s shift toward climate solutions by providing us with the certainty we need to innovate and invest in the development of ever-more sustainable technology in the U.S.”

While still reviewing the proposal, Arkema was pleased to learn that EPA would keep the same system for allocating allowances that it established for 2022 and 2023.

“Changing the rules for market participation would introduce uncertainty, putting all the stakeholders, but especially U.S. producers, at a significant disadvantage,” said Glenn Haun, general manager of refrigerants at Arkema. “Maintaining the current system would promote predictability and allow American producers to invest in the next generation HFC alternatives to be made in the U.S.”

Chemours also believes EPA’s methodology and direction for allocating HFC production and consumption is best for the industry at large and consistent with supporting the intent of the AIM Act, said Joseph Martinko, North American business director of thermal and specialized solutions at Chemours.

“Chemours commends the EPA for their efforts and timely delivery of the proposal that continues to support President Biden’s agenda to combat the climate crisis, while advancing manufacturing and innovation in America,” he said. “The ratification of the Kigali Amendment by the Senate last month allows Chemours and its partners to continue working towards delivering advanced lower-GWP solutions to meet HFC-reduction goals.”

Other Changes
In addition to applying a similar methodology to allocate HFCs for 2024-2028, there are other changes that EPA is looking to make in this rule. These include:

  • Adjusting the consumption baseline to reflect corrected data;
  • Confirming that entities may confer or transfer allowances as soon as allowances are allocated;
  • Codifying requirements related to the expenditure of allowances for import; and
  • Clarifying and revising recordkeeping and reporting requirements, including a new requirement to report emissions from HFC production facilities.

The reason why the consumption baseline is going to be adjusted is that after the Framework Rule was calculated and codified, a company informed EPA that it had misreported data that factored into the consumption baseline. EPA is now proposing to update the consumption baseline and associated phasedown schedule with this corrected dataset. Specifically, EPA is proposing to revise the consumption baseline from 303,887,017 MTEVe to 300,257,386 MTEVe, which is a decrease of 3,629,631 MTEVe to account for this error. Table 1 shows how EPA proposes to revise the production and consumption allowances.

Another proposed change in the rule would clarify that entities may confer or transfer allowances at any point after they are allocated until the allowance expires at the end of the calendar year for which it was allocated. Allowances can only be expended to cover imports or production in the calendar year for which they are allocated, but entities can confer or transfer allowances before January 1 of the calendar year. EPA is proposing language that more clearly states that entities may transfer and confer their allowances upon their allocation, including ahead of January 1 of the calendar year for which the allowances were allocated.

As for clarifying the requirements related to the expenditure of allowances for import, EPA cites concerns over the possibility that imported HFCs, including in heels (defined as the amount of a regulated substance that remains in a container after the container is discharged or offloaded), could be reported to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as U.S. goods returned as a way to evade EPA’s import restrictions. To reduce this possible avenue for illegal imports, EPA is clarifying that the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code for the regulated substance, regardless of whether or not comprising the heel, must be used, and not the HTS codes for U.S. goods returned or empty containers.

Another proposal involves beefing up reporting requirements for HFC production facilities. EPA currently requires producers to submit a one-time report, documenting any hazardous air pollutants (HAP), ozone-depleting substances (ODS) or HFC emissions coming from their production line. Instead of one-time reporting, EPA is proposing a requirement for annual reporting of the emissions from each facility’s HFC production line, specifically HAP, ODS, and HFCs.

This annual report would include the quantity (in pounds) of HAP, HFC, and ODS at the facility in the prior year and the quantity (in pounds) of each HAP, HFC, or ODS emitted in the prior year on an emission unit basis. EPA is proposing that the reported emission levels reflect each facility’s and emission unit’s actual operating hours, production rates, in-place control equipment, and types of materials processed, stored, or combusted during the preceding calendar year.

According to EPA, collecting this data would allow the Agency to more closely monitor potential impacts of the HFC phasedown on relevant emissions and on communities located near facilities producing regulated substances.

The original article can be found here:

Florida-based Metro Fire Protection Services, Inc Acquired by Protegis Fire & Safety

February 15, 2022


By Protegis Fire & Safety

Cleveland, OH – Protegis Fire & Safety announced that it has completed the acquisition of Stuart, Florida-based Metro Fire Protection Services, Inc. which significantly expands Protegis’ existing Florida operations. Like Protegis, Metro provides installation, inspection and repair services. Metro covers the full range of fire protection and life safety disciplines and serves commercial customers in a variety of end markets in Southeast Florida.

As a leading fire and life safety business in Southeast Florida, Metro was started in 1984 by Ron C. Lee and Phillip (Don) Paris. Douglas K. Crawford joined Ron and Don in 1993 and eventually became an owner in the Company. Doug will continue to lead the Company as a member of the Protegis team.

Metro co-owner Doug Crawford said, “My partners and I enthusiastically embrace Protegis as our next-phase growth partner after we were exposed to their team culture and shared core values. We completely identify with their promise to deliver fire and life safety services at a very high level. The Protegis tag-line says it best, Doing it Right, Making it Easy and Being there for You twenty-fourseven. This partnership creates immediate benefits for our customers, as well as, exciting growth and development opportunities for our valued employees.”

Peter van Niekerk, CEO of Protegis, added “We are thrilled to join forces with Metro and work with Doug and his team to support their growth and enhance customer relationships. I am confident that as part of the Protegis platform, Metro will continue to thrive and build upon its leadership position in the Florida fire protection market.”

About Protegis
Protegis is a leader in fire protection and life safety services in the Ohio, Mid-Atlantic and central Florida markets. A trusted provider that partners with customers for the long-term, serving as their single source for installing, inspecting and monitoring protection, prevention and suppression products and replacement parts. Protegis also provides national account services through 200 affiliates across the United States. For more information, visit

The Passing of Norb Makowka

January 30, 2022



It is with sadness in our hearts that NAFED has to relay the news of Norb Makowka’s sudden passing on January 26, 2022. The cause of his death is not known at this time, but we didn’t expected this, as he seemed to be in good health. Norb was a much beloved father, grandfather, husband, co-worker, and friend and will be incredibly missed.

As many of you know, Norb was very much a part of NAFED’s foundation. He was always a dependable source of knowledge for everyone, not just for NAFED members but anyone he had contact with throughout our industry. After his years in the fire equipment distributor industry, he joined the staff of the association in 1992. For thirty years he has been a phone call away when people have had questions or concerns. He has been our point person on over a dozen NFPA technical committees, DOT compliance, and federal regulations. He helped create and manage our robust certification program. His hard work has been a large part of what makes NAFED the successful and essential association it is today. It is hard to know what we will do without him.

We know that many of you had a personal relationship with Norb, so know that you are in our thoughts as we hope we are in yours. The world just lost a generous bright light of a human being, and that is something hard to recover from. Please take the time to mourn and look out for one another.

He is survived by his wife Sue, daughter Kristen and son Michael, and granddaughter Lucy. Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.

An Interview with Anna Gavin, President of Fireline

January 24, 2022

1. What is your role at your company?


2. Tell us about your family.

Husband Jeff, son Ben (12), daughter Libby (6)

3. What was your dream job growing up?

Cheesemonger. It’s a thing I swear. I mean, you get paid to work with (and sample) cheese all day. What could be better? Frankly this is still a goal for retirement.

4. What was your first job?

Bakery assistant at Graul’s Market. I was famous for accidentally getting my foot stuck in a bucket of icing that I was using as a stool. They called me Frosty after that.

5. How did you get into the fire protection industry? Please describe your first job within the industry.

Like so many of us newer generation folks, I was born into the industry. My grandfather, John Waters, started the business in 1947 and my father, Steve Waters, took over in 1982. I grew up looking at extinguisher tags like all the other 6-year-old girls. No? Just me?

I started working at Fireline in 2001 while I was still in college. I did the usual array of office jobs: accounting, payroll, answering phones, assisting the sales staff, and I even tried my hand at sales for a bit (never again, though it did allow me time for field experience in training).

In 2008, my grandfather passed away and, in 2009, my father passed away. No other family members were actively working in the business and, at the time, we didn’t really know what else to do but have me take over as President. I was 27 years old and had a 6-month-old baby at home. It was a crazy move when I look back at it now but, thanks to a lot of help from folks in the industry, other business owners in my area, and my loyal employees, we fumbled our way through those early years. From then on, I was able to grow into my role and plan out the vision for the Fireline of the future.

6. Over the course of your career, what has been the biggest change you have seen in the industry?

In just the 12 years I have been doing this, I have seen some really major changes with the “corporatization” of how our manufacturers operate. With many of the main players in our industry being owned by large multi-national corporations, we have seen more red tape, slower product releases, and less collaboration than in years past. Our industry reps in these companies have worked very hard to keep things moving along, but it is tough when they don’t always have the control they would like to make progress. The recent shipping challenges have served to pull the distributor-manufacturer relationship even farther apart. It has caused a lot of us to re-evaluate our business models and how we focus our efforts in the market. What used to be a broad stroke of sales strategies has become more refined, more niche, then it was in the past. In the end, this may be a positive change brought out of crazy times.

7. What do you love most about your job? Least?

Most – The culture building with my company. The quality of our employees at Fireline have been on an incredible upward trajectory. We are hiring better, engaging with each other, and finding a way to make this a great place to work for our “Fireline Family.” It is a constant challenge and takes hundreds of different touch points. But it is absolutely worth the effort.

Least – Insurance claims (usually sprinkler related). I mean, who really likes dealing with subrogation clauses and lawyers (sorry lawyer friends)? Most of the time we have no role in the claim, yet we still get dragged into the paperwork shuffle. Definitely not where I want to be spending my time if I can help it.

8. What is your favorite movie?

Stop it! Who can answer this with one answer?

Princess Bride, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Hot Fuzz, Pride and Prejudice (1995 version), Dogma, Yesterday, The 100-Foot Journey, Secretariat, and because I am a child of the 90’s – Clueless. I could go on….

9. What is the best piece of advice that you were ever given?

Focus on what you can control…..This is my life motto at this point.

10. Who inspires you?

No one specific person, more groups of people:

  • Strong women leaders who are smart, competent and foster collaborative work cultures
  • Men who take more of a role at home, or who support their wives having the more important job when it makes the best sense for the family
  • Those who donate their time to a greater good, whether in their job, their community or in public service. Time is so precious, and I am always blown away by how much some people give when they can.

11. Would you rather take an ocean, mountain or lake vacation?

Lake with a mountain! Grew up going to Squam Lake in New Hampshire during my summers.

12. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A stress-free day with a good book, good food, a good cup of tea (and later a cocktail) and maybe a couple cats to cuddle with. Yes, I am that lady.

13. What is the trait you most dislike in others?

Passive aggressive behavior. Just keep on walking if you are bringing that to my door.

14. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Cheese. We go way back to the early days. The love is real and has withstood the test of time.

15. Which talent would you most like to have?

I used to sing in high school and I was….ok. I would love to have a really powerhouse singing voice. I’d blow them away at karaoke.

16. Where would you most like to live?

I like living in Maryland. In a few hours, I can be at the beach or at the mountains. In less time, I can be in big cities, or out in country farmland. It’s wonderfully diverse. I would love to spend my time traveling cities all over, but Maryland will always be home.

17. What is your most treasured possession?

My kids of course! My son Ben is charismatic, clever, and just so genuinely kind. My daughter Libby is just as clever, creative and brings kids together in a way that shows she is going to be a great leader one day. It’s fun to watch them grow.

Also my grandmother’s teaspoon collection. It’s incredibly special to me.

18. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Losing my father was a shock. I remember having to sit at his desk at Fireline for the first time after he passed. It was incredibly difficult. Those first few months, the loss felt so consuming. I would have to hold it together during the day at work where I felt overwhelmed and in over my head (we were still in the recession just to make things extra challenging). And then I would get in the car, cry the whole way home mourning my father, and then have to pull it back together once I got home to my family. 2010 was a tough year.

19. Who are your favorite writers?

Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, JK Rowling, Naomi Novik, Sarah J. Maas. Yes, I am a romantic. Don’t judge.

20. Who are your heroes in real life?

See question 10

21. What is your motto?

See question 9

Exciting News about Fireline:

After years of planning, we finally started the full renovation of our Baltimore office this year. The main building was built in 1964 by my grandfather and had 50 plus years’ worth of wear and tear. It was wood paneled walls, low lighting, winding hallways, and not nearly enough bathrooms. Not exactly a place where I would be able to recruit the younger generations.

The renovation took 10 months and was a full gutting of our office buildings. Our warehouse had already undergone a shop rebuild in 2019 so the focus was on the three office buildings. New roof, new plumbing, electrical, HVAC, walls, everything. New layout and new furniture. The main building floorplan was completely opened up so we could fit all of operations support staff in one building. One of the smaller buildings was fit out for our HR and accounting team and the third building was converted into a conference and training center. It has a tech lab and a large training room that can be used for all sorts of needs. The whole campus was rebranded and the outcome is incredible.

I made this move to help improve communications between our teams, to better recruit new team members, and to prepare Fireline for the future (also, you know, more bathrooms). I am so glad we were able to make this dream a reality. It really speaks to Fireline’s growth and our desire to invest in our staff. I like to think my father and grandfather would be proud.

The newly renovated office is just in time for our 75th anniversary as a company in 2022. We plan to host our customers and friends of the industry in an open house in the spring to celebrate 75 years of Fireline success. Check out the 3D tour of the new office here!

What the Equipment Manufacturers Are Saying

January 11, 2022