Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a fire protection designer? F.E. Moran Fire Protection has a design training program to learn how to be a fire protection designer from the best of the best.
I interviewed Cordell Beache and Wayne Conrad, our main fire protection designer trainers.
1. You two are both fire protection design trainers. What is your favorite part about being a trainer?
Cordell Beache (CB): I derive a great deal of pleasure seeing someone progress from not knowing anything about fire protection, to developing into a legitimate designer.
Wayne Conrad (WC): I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned, and seeing designers apply what they’ve been taught.
2. In your experience, what qualities do great fire protection designers have?
CB: A good mechanical aptitude is essential and a strong desire to learn. The ability to communicate well. The fire protection industry does not get as much recognition as most other mechanical professions. There are opportunities to learn the required skills through online or in classroom courses. However it is incumbent that someone new to this business be motivated to seek any opportunity available to master their skills.
WC: A very detail-oriented individual with good communication and multi-tasking skills who takes ownership of his projects, and produces code-compliant shop drawings on time, consistent with best practices of their office and installation teams, while managing design and material budgets….. Drawings fully coordinated with building components and fully coordinated with the other MEP trades….. Thorough stocklisting and planning so all materials arrive at the jobsite at the optimum time to allow the fitters to perform at a high-level, with results being minimal / no rework in the field.
3. In the last class you taught, what background did your students have?
CB: I have a trainee who has a graphic design background and who has very good computer skills. His progress is moving forward at a very good pace. One of my other trainees came from the carpentry trade, this is his second career. He is very familiar with working in a construction environment and understands how to work with other trades.
WC: The last class (Standpipe Design with Calculations…..9 students) had a fairly wide range of experience in fire protection.
4. If you could tell someone who was interested in going into design one thing they should learn today, what would it be?
CB: AutoCAD with an emphasis on BIM. The fire protection industry seems to be late adapting to new technology. We were the last trade to embrace AutoCAD and we seem to be the last with BIM also. 3D design is the future of the construction industry and we need to be focused on hiring people with those skill sets.
WC: I typically describe Fire Protection Design as a great career for those individuals who are detail-oriented, and like the challenges of problem-solving and time management, while working in a team environment. They must be willing to apply themselves in a significant manner toward learning a very challenging business as there is a significant learning curve.
Wayne Conrad started his fire protection career in 1976 at F.E. Moran. I attained his NICET Level 4 Certification in 1989. He now has 41 years of fire protection design experience and enjoys using his experience to benefit his students.
Cordell Beache began his career in London in 1973. He has since continued to grow his fire protection design experience, and has been designing and training at F.E. Moran Fire Protection National since 2016. He uses his extensive experience to help trainees grow their fire protection design knowledge base.