Talk about your role and responsibilities.
As Director of Fire Systems I oversee our national fire systems program. I work with our teams to implement and standardize policies and procedures and support our associates in the field so that we can ensure safety for the patients, staff, and visitors at the sites we serve. The fire systems team is responsible for inspecting, testing, and maintaining the various fire systems in our customer facilities including fire alarm and sprinkler systems, fire pumps, portable extinguishers, and more. I work with the team to take quality to a higher level, working together to elevate our processes and the ways we serve customers, providing value by keeping the work we do in-house. I partner with our construction team on projects such as designing a new facility, or working with a customer site on an expansion, renovation, or fire systems upgrade. It’s important that we get our work done with minimal impact on the facility and their patients. I also manage vendor relationships with our fire systems partners, ensuring the work is done to our expectations and in a timely manner.
I have been in the fire protection industry for over 27 years. I began my fire systems career as a technician for a large fire alarm manufacturer, working my way up in that organization for 17 years. One of my customers was a large hospital system in Indiana and as a result I became very experienced in healthcare and came to really enjoy the healthcare industry. I was eventually offered an opportunity to step out of my field contractor position to work inside a hospital and it was very eye-opening for me to view fire safety through the customer lens. The work I was doing didn’t change dramatically, but my viewpoint became that of the owner. A year and a half later I joined the Medxcel team, and I saw that Medxcel was looking to bring all the fire safety work in-house to the facilities they serve. They wanted to take what I was doing on a small scale and grow it into a larger program. I eventually moved to Medxcel’s corporate office to develop the fire systems program, helping our customers eliminate contract spend and using our own technicians to conduct in-house inspection, testing and maintenance. Over time we built plans for each of our regions and then I stepped up to lead the national fire systems program for Medxcel, which is the position I hold today.
Describe your career path and how you arrived in this role.
Safety is our number one goal. We take care of the fire safety equipment the way we do because first and foremost, our job is taking care of people and keeping them safe and comfortable. Some of our time is spent responding to things that happen in our customer facilities. Perhaps there was a fire, and we need to assess how the fire systems were impacted and work to get things back in order. We also support our sites proactively, conducting preventive maintenance and making sure that the equipment we’re responsible for is in proper working order. The fire safety team also impacts patients in ways many people may not realize. Fire and sprinkler systems are noisy and messy. If you’ve ever smelled sprinkler system water, you know that the smell is not pleasant, and you can’t forget it. And we all know that fire alarm system noises are disruptive. Keeping the fire systems equipment maintained to the highest standard leads to a better overall environment for patients.
How does the fire system team serve Medxcel’s customers and positively impact patient care?
Jobs within the fire protection industry tend to be somewhat specialized or segmented. What we often see with outside contractors is that a fire technician is specifically focused on one department or product. We all know that water and electricity don’t mix, and we see that carried over in the way the work is typically assigned. Fire alarm technicians work on the electrical side, and sprinkler technicians work on the water side. Historically these two generally don’t know much about what the other team does even though both are integral components of fire safety. The systems have a lot of similarities but there’s traditionally been a separation maintained there. We approach this differently at Medxcel. We see cross training as a great opportunity for associate career development. Our focus is on hiring the best talent and then cross training them if they don’t have both skill sets. This results in well-rounded associates, making them morevaluable when serving our clients and allowing them the opportunity to grow their skill set and career.
How does Medxcel differentiate itself from others in the industry?
We offer fire systems training through a variety of channels including factory training, online courses, and hands-on courses. Offering training via multiple methods ensures our associates have access to the best training possible. It’s exciting to see individuals on the fire team broaden their knowledge base. I’ve learned that most people want to learn more but it’s difficult for them to step outside their comfort zone and take that first step to try something new. To ease the way, we put training and development opportunities into the path of our associates, and managers facilitate discussions around career growth and areas associates would like to learn more about. We even have associates that transferred internally into fire systems from a facilities department because they had an interest in what we do. We encourage that at Medxcel. As a leader, it’s rewarding to see our associates so engaged with investing in themselves and their career.
What types of training and development opportunities does Medxcel offer to fire systems associates?
The Medxcel culture is rooted in leading the transformation of healthcare and we all have responsibility for a piece of the puzzle when leading that change. I’ve been in jobs in other organizations where you just did your job the way you were told to do it, and the culture at Medxcel is very different. We look to each other as experts in our field and we ask our associates, “How else can we do this? Is there a better way to do our work?” And in that way, we are leading healthcare transformation by engaging our associates to be part of the solution rather than us just telling people how to do their job. It’s rewarding to see our associates bringing forward new ideas and sharing ideas and information with each other. Culture blossoms when you get out of the way and give people the opportunity to take ownership and do things the way they know they should be done, with the expectation that we will elevate our game along the way. The other way I would describe the Medxcel culture is that we’re like a family. We spend so much time working together but we are also able to have meaningful relationships and that element brings so much more to our workplace. When you come to work and know and care about the person working next to you, and they care about you and support you, it makes the workplace so much more than just a job. I’ve been touched so many times by others at Medxcel who care about me, and I feel the same way about them. Our culture here is all about caring for people, our customers, their patients and staff, and our fellow Medxcel associates.
How would you describe the culture at Medxcel?
The best part of my job is seeing the pride our associates take in their work and what they are accomplishing in our customers’ facilities. Our fire safety associates take ownership of their work. They see what needs to be done and they just do it. In our field, it’s important for us to be proactive when we can. Sometimes we see an indication that something bad is going to happen, perhaps it appears we’re about to have a catastrophic equipment failure. I love seeing our associates identify those situations and then just jump in to handle it, take care of the issue, and keep our facilities running safely. We empower our associates to make decisions and handle issues, they know that they don’t have to wait and ask for permission. I also love seeing our associates excited about their careers. I’ve had team members call me in tears when they pass a state licensing exam, and those times are right up there as some of the best moments in my career.
What is the best part of your job.
The most important Core Value to me is integrity, it’s what you do when nobody’s looking. Integrity is something we look for when we hire, we want to see our associates demonstrate integrity along with the knowledge and experience needed for the job. Sometimes we see people who have been overworked in their jobs prior to coming to Medxcel, and they’re looking for trust and room to do their job in the way they know it should be done. When associates demonstrate integrity, we can give them the space to do their job the right way.
Which of Medxcel’s Core Values is the most meaningful to you?
During my time here I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to co-author a book with some of my industry peers. We produced the book for The American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) based on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Four and it’s being used within our industry, offering a different perspective and influencing change. Medxcel has supported me in becoming actively involved in NFPA and ASHE and it allows us to partner with our peers to affect positive change in the fire systems industry. Codes are slow to be adopted, and when you look at healthcare being regulated by CMS, many of the codes are over ten years old. We need to be part of those looking at codes for the future, even with the understanding that it may be ten years or more until they’re adopted. It’s very exciting to be part of the shift to forward thinking and leading change within our industry.
Is there anything unique that’s happened during your time with Medxcel?
It’s been interesting to learn that although we have a national set of codes that everyone works from, those codes are interpreted in different ways from state to state, and sometimes even within one state. It’s taught me that we need to sometimes accept that things will be done differently from region to region, but over time I hope that we will eventually see more standardization. There’s a best practice for everything we do and through the collaboration of the Medxcel fire teams and industry peers, we’re working towards everybody performing to the same best practices. I want to see everyone in our industry be successful, because to me, fire safety is not a competitive market. If we see how to do something better, then I want to share it with everybody, no matter who they work for, because we’re all in the business of keeping people safe and that’s how we define success. We need to all share tools and knowledge to be successful.
What’s one thing you’ve learned in your role that you didn’t expect?
I highly recommend working at Medxcel and when people ask me, I talk about our culture. There’s no perfect job, there’s always going to be things about a job that we don’t necessarily like. I tell people that at Medxcel we are leading the change that’s needed. We’re leading the transformation not only in fire safety, but across Medxcel. If someone wants to be part of a group that’s making a difference, Medxcel is the place for them. I firmly believe that. Engaged people are the ones who are going to be most interested in a career with us. We don’t just offer a boring 9-5 job; we offer a job that makes you think about the way you do things and allows you to grow and make things better.
What would you say to someone who asks you if you recommend working for Medxcel?