Describe your day-to-day responsibility and a typical day.
The primary responsibility of my team is to provide the required inspections and testing of the fire and sprinkler systems to keep our facilities compliant. Documentation of this work is critical to successful surveys (CMS, CSHA, TJC, etc.). We provide these responsibilities for six hospital campuses in and around Birmingham, Alabama. As the team lead, I plan out our activities a month in advance and I communicate the schedule to the Facility Managers and Director. Each morning we arrive at our main campus and if we are working at another site that day we will travel there in the company van, a 15 minute to one hour drive depending on the location. Once we arrive, we meet with the facility staff to explain what we’ll be doing that day. If we’re conducting fire alarm testing, we put the system into “test mode” and a technician will sit at the panel while I go through the facility, testing each smoke detector. The technician will call out each location to me so that we can verify the location is correct on the panel, and we sign off on the work order for each one. If we’re doing sprinkler testing, I sit at the panel while my technician goes through the site testing the sprinklers. When we’re not testing systems, we spend our time correcting deficiencies found during the tests or working on the fire alarm system or panel when needed. As an example, this morning when I came in, I learned that a patient in the ER had broken a pull station last night and tried to jam it back into place, so I repaired that first thing. Sometimes we have to make these types of repairs to our fire systems when patients or others have run into our components or hit them with medical equipment. As team lead, I make sure that all of our work is properly documented for compliance purposes.
Describe the path you took to arrive in your current role.
After I graduated high school, I joined the Marines and became an avionics technician for Harrier jets. I learned a lot about electronics and troubleshooting. When I left the military, I took a job with a fire safety firm where I was able to apply my experience in electronics and I learned more about fire systems. When I came to work at Medxcel I was a Fire Systems Tech II. Four years ago I was promoted to my current position.
What types of training has Medxcel provided to you?
Medxcel offers associates a lot of great training opportunities and has helped me further my career. I attended a week-long course in Florida and another week-long training in Chicago. Thanks to my advanced training and certification I am now able to do 75% of the work on our fire panel including day-to-day programming, label changes and more. That helps Medxcel and our client as we no longer have to wait for a vendor to come to do that work. When I came to Medxcel I was NICET certified Level 2 and Medxcel has allowed me to attend training receive additional certifications. I now hold certifications for NICET Level 3 Fire Systems Technician, NICET Level 2 Fire Alarm Testing and Inspecting, and NICET Level 3 Inspection and Testing of Water-Based Systems which are our fire sprinkler systems.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is the variety; the variety of work and the different sites we cover. The variety in my job allows me to meet and work with different people each day which I really enjoy. I enjoy the challenge of doing something different each day and troubleshooting systems which challenges me to think about what is happening and how to repair something.
Which of Medxcel’s Core Values Speaks most to you?
The Core Value of Dedication means a lot to me. Being responsible for fire systems, we have to be ready to take an emergency call 24/7. We are very dedicated to the safety of our hospital customers and the patients and staff.
Have you learned anything while working for Medxcel that surprised you?
Working for Medxcel I have learned so much about hospitals and how much work it takes behind the scenes to keep everything up and running and to ensure safety. I had a lot of prior experience with the fire systems side of things but working for Medxcel has exposed me to the broader scope of facilities work. I am blown away by how much our managers and supervisors are responsible for and have to keep track of. Medxcel has given me a great perspective and appreciation for what we do for our customers.
How has the pandemic affected your team’s work?
Our core responsibilities remained the same, but we did help out with additional work during the pandemic in order to keep everyone safe. The hospital changed over a lot of their air systems to different pressures in different areas of the hospital. We helped with that process by modifying the fire alarm systems when air handlers were shut down to ensure compliance. When it came to the sprinkler systems, some rooms had to be converted and that involved changing the ceiling configuration in some cases. In those cases we worked with our partners to adjust the sprinkler systems when needed to be sure they were still covering the new room configuration properly and were in compliance. We wore more PPE and took more precautions to keep our team safe but continued with our work on site every day.
What would you tell someone considering a career with Medxcel?
Working for Medxcel has been a great experience for me. I really appreciate all of the training opportunities that are available, and I’ve been able to further my career thanks to that. Medxcel supports us fully with any type of training we want to pursue, whether through Medxcel University or the pursuit of outside certifications; I love that! Medxcel is a great place to be for someone wanting to grow personally as well as professionally.
Is there a project that you are particularly proud of?
The fire detectors at our site were aging and in Alabama we experience a lot of humidity swings in the spring and summer. For some reason, the humidity was causing the older detectors to false alarm. We took on a project where we went through and tested and then changed out about 25% of the smoke detectors in the building. Two of us did most of the work ourselves, testing detectors, changing them out, programming them, and then testing the new detectors. This year I don’t think we’ve had a single false alarm due to humidity, so I’m proud that that project really paid off.