Thursday, April 28, 2011

Congratulations On Your Retirement

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate two individuals who were exceptionally helpful in building Bison Fire Protection. They both were professional in their jobs, and were considered to be at the top of their industries. My working relationship goes back almost 20 years with both, and it has been a pleasure as well as a learning experience.

The first person is Rick Brown of Metal Tech Industries. He is a true professional in his industry. I always enjoyed working with him as his projects were always well managed making my job so much easier to do. Cliff Skrabek the owner of Metal Tech Industries summed up Rick’s career much better than I ever could.

“It is with mixed emotions that I am announcing the retirement of our Food Service Sales Manager, Rick Brown as of April 30th, 2011.

Rick has been with Metal-Tech for eleven years. His career with us started in 1999 when he joined our organization as a contract sales representative in our food service division. During this time, Rick was responsible for kitchen design and project management and has contributed to the growth of this division within our Company. Rick was promoted to manager of the food service division in 2009 where he provided leadership and direction for the division.

His career started in the food service industry some 43 years ago working for Quest Metal Products as an estimator and draftsman. He later worked at Russell foods where he headed the contract division for 30 years. We were fortunate to have Rick finish his career here at Metal-Tech where he has left an impression on our Company and the industry.

Cliff Skrabek

The second person is Pete Popowich of Kidde Fire Systems. Pete has been Bison Fire’s representative since we open our doors. He was one of the first manufacturers to support us, and aided in expanding our business into new areas such as industrial, forestry, and mining fire protection. Without Pete’s help and guidance we might not be the company we have become today.

Gentlemen enjoy the next chapter in your lives!

retirement 2

Posted by Bison Fire at 4:10 PM 0 Comments

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sprinkler Systems Work Fine

There are two things I really like about this story. The first being that the sprinkler system worked as designed, preventing the spread of the fire, and aided in extinguishing the fire. This saves the owner a larger insurance claim, but more importantly they are back in business much sooner, most likely the same, or at worst the next day. The second thing I liked about this story is the description of how a sprinkler system works. Very few people get to see a sprinkler system in action, and if you do you are usually ducking your head and running for the door. So what we typically see is what’s portrayed in the movies, and movies are seldom accurate as it just doesn’t look as good.

Posted by Rob Read at 2:10 PM 0 Comments

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Think Before Pulling Your Burning Car Into The Gas Station

This story really goes into the category of “What were you thinking?” Unfortunately driving a burning car into a gas station to get some help is far more common than you would think. People still think that gas stations have mechanics on staff, when really today most are gas bars, and the best you could expect to fight the fire is bottled water, or perhaps a favoured coffee. Yes, they do have fire extinguishers on site, but so does every business. The bigger issue is still the fact that you just drove a fire ball towards thousands of litres of gasoline. Your best action might be to pull over, and call 911.

Once a fire gets established in a vehicle it is difficult to put out due to the hood and body covering the fire. There is also the possibility of an explosion from both the gas tank, and the battery. Vehicles burn well because they have both Class A, and Class B combustibles, being the seats, and upholstery, as well as the gas and oils. Proper use of the extinguisher might have saved the vehicle as well and would be covered in a fire extinguisher training course.

Posted by Rob Read at 12:02 PM 0 Comments

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

NFPA Offers Fire Code Training

NFPA is offering a number of webinars this year. This type of on line training is invaluable as it saves both time, and travel expense while allowing us to get training we might have otherwise passed on.

They also have a series of self-guided courses.  Stay code-current and earn valuable CEUs while you interact with our nationally recognized experts who help you Learn, Interpret, Implement and Enforce the codes and standards they help develop. Topics include the National Electrical Code, NFPA 101: Life Safety Code, NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm Code, Sprinkler Systems, and more.

From a business point of view it is always a balance between cost, and value. We will be participating several of these webinars over the summer.

Posted by Rob Read at 1:04 PM 0 Comments

Monday, April 25, 2011

Is Your Fire Pit Ready For The Summer?

I was at a wedding social this past weekend. One of the common topics was getting out to the backyard to enjoy the fire pit. I use mine all the time so when I was catching up with old friends there were questions ranging from where to get wood, to do the neighbours have any issues, and of course fire safety. I always have a fire extinguisher nearby it’s an occupational hazard. Ready to lite up the fire pit? is a good article that discusses all of these things in an urban setting. Enjoy your fire pit this summer, I know I’ll enjoy mine!

Posted by Rob Read at 12:01 PM 0 Comments

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Training Is Vital To Keep Cooks Safe

One of my greatest concerns is the training given to restaurant cooking staff. These people generally trend towards being younger students that are working towards degree’s to begin their careers.

The issue for restaurant owners and managers becomes the cost of fire extinguisher, and suppression system training for a transient group.  However if you consider the cost of an injury, or death due to fire you might reconsider the value of extinguisher training. I’m sure the cooks injured in the Scottsdale Kitchen Fire appreciated the fire suppression system working properly. However some additional training might have lessened the injuries. We have a video with the wet chemical extinguisher description that demonstrates what can happen if an extinguisher is incorrectly used.

Parents are always proud of their children as they start their first jobs a major next step in becoming an adult, but they also expect them to come home safely. It is the responsibility of the restaurant owner/manager to ensure that it happens.

Posted by Rob Read at 11:59 AM 1 Comments

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Brandon Makes Changes To Fire Prevention By-Law

Brandon’s Fire Prevention Officer Brad MacKay has issued a letter regarding the qualifications of fire alarm technicians providing service in the City of Brandon. I think that this type of proactive approach towards fire prevention is fantastic, and will go a long way in saving lives due to a malfunctioning fire alarm system.  Far too often in business we see companies trying to save a dollar by send technicians that aren’t fully qualified to perform the intended duties.  I recently read an article about an apartment block that had a fire, in which both the Fire Alarm System and Sprinkler System did not work. I have attached a copy of the letter from Brandon Emergency Services.


Brandon By-Law Changes

Posted by Rob Read at 11:40 AM 0 Comments

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ranger Insurance Invests In Their People

Ranger Insurance’s Scott Feasey the Vice President of Commercial Sales invited Rob Read to give a presentation to all of his commercial brokers today. The presentation was based upon wet chemical suppression systems for commercial cooking and how they should comply with the current ULC-1254.6, or UL300 Standards.

Ranger Insurance has taken a professional approach in providing additional education for their staff as it translates into their ability to ensure the best coverage for your business. This proactive approach is what demonstrates exactly what Ranger Insurance is all about.

Since 1983, Ranger Insurance has been proving peace-of-mind to commercial and residential clients throughout Manitoba and Canada. As one of the province’s largest insurance brokers, they’re committed to providing the best service possible to over 40,000 customers. From commercial and surety to residential and auto, they have the products and services you need to protect what matters most to you.

Posted by Rob Read at 2:31 PM 0 Comments

Monday, April 18, 2011

New Restaurant Fire Report Released By FEMA

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has released a new report regarding restaurant fires. While this is an American based publication the information is relevant in that it focuses on the same types of situations we would have in Canada. Some of their points are as follow;

•An estimated 5,900 restaurant building fires occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 75 injuries and $172 million in property loss.

•The leading cause of all restaurant building fires is cooking at 59 percent and nearly all of these cooking fires (91 percent) are small, confined fires with limited damage.

•While cooking is the leading cause of all restaurant building fires as well as the smaller, confined restaurant building fires, electrical malfunction is the leading cause of the larger, non-confined restaurant building fires.

•Non-confined restaurant building fires most often start in cooking areas and kitchens (41 percent).

•Deep fryers (9 percent), ranges (7 percent), and miscellaneous kitchen and cooking equipment (5 percent) are the leading types of equipment involved in ignition in non-confined restaurant building fires.

•Smoke alarms were reported as present in 44 percent of non-confined restaurant building fires. In addition, full or partial automatic extinguishment systems, mainly sprinklers, were present in 47 percent of non-confined restaurant building fires.

There is some very good information there, and it is very well detailed in their downloadable pdf. The best way to avoid joining these types of statics is to follow some basic steps.

1: Train your staff on the use of fire extinguishers, and how the suppression system works.

2: Have regular maintenance on your fire suppression system, and ensure it meets current standards.

3. If you don’t have smoke alarms get them, and if you have a fire alarm system ensure it is tied into the suppression system.

4. Housekeeping, a clean work area helps slow the spread of fire.

Posted by Rob Read at 1:26 PM 0 Comments

Friday, April 15, 2011

Use Caution When Allowing Technicians Into Your Business

I recently read an article about fake fire inspectors. I have seen this happen twice in Winnipeg in the last 5 years. It seems the methods are similar to those described in the story. A guy walks into a business claiming to be there to perform the fire inspection. He does a little bit of work, then asks for CASH.

You can protect yourself from this type of crime with a few simple steps and observations. Have you dealt with this company before? Do they have identification, and if you’re still concerned an office phone number with a person at the other end? Are they professionally dressed, or driving a vehicle that has been professionally decaled? Are their tags, invoices, and reports professionally made, or photo copied on coloured paper? I still have some of these from the last crook. I kept them in case the police needed them for their investigation.

If you are a victim of this type of crime, I would recommend calling in a professional company to redo the work. As you will be in violation of fire codes, and in the event of an incident you will have issues with you insurance provider.

Posted by Rob Read at 11:39 AM 0 Comments

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Siemens Introduces Specwriter Tutorial

Siemens has introduced a tutorial to compliment the SpecWriter tool. The SpecWriter tool provides an easy way to create functional specifications to meet the needs of your specific project or performance based solution. This windows based tool allows anyone to easily create custom specs quickly.

The Specwriter has been designed as an integral part of the Engineering Advantage Program. This allows us to work with Engineers to offer the following benefits.

  • Support consultants with accessible, responsive and industry experienced professionals
  • Assist the fire protection engineering community with access to the latest trends, products and tools
  • Team with consulting engineers to address the most challenging needs of their clients

There is more information on this unique program on our web site in the Professional Services section of our web site.

Posted by Rob Read at 11:34 AM 0 Comments

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Auto Body Shops Require Industrial Fire Protection

We have installed industrial dry chemical systems in many of Manitoba’s auto body shops. To be precise in their paint spray booths, mix rooms, and even prep stations. The reasons for protecting all of these areas are that they are very high hazard areas. You have every type of combustible on site. Within the Booth or Prep Station, there are Class A combustibles in the vehicles, Class B in the vehicles, paints, and thinners, and also Class C in every electrical device from the lighting to the exhaust fan. I have seen fire start in the exhaust ducts due to chemical reaction from a build-up of excess of the paints they remove. Fortunately every fire we have had was extinguished by the Kidde Automatic Fire Suppression System we installed.  Containing and extinguishing these fires before they become involved is vital in preventing even larger catastrophes. The attached article demonstrates the damage that can occur when an auto body shop gets out of control.

Posted by Rob Read at 3:06 PM 0 Comments

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Congratulations To Bobby Coombs On Successfully Completeing Siemens Fire Alarm Training

Bobby Coombs has arrived back in Winnipeg triumphant after spending two weeks at the Siemens Training facility in Buffalo Grove Illinois! Bobby was there to learn about the Siemens XLS Fire Finder Alarm Panels. The first week at this state of the art facility covered XLS training for installation, operation, and Maintenance. This is a 3 day course that involved both technical, and hands on training. He made us all proud with a final exam score of 93%. The following 3 days were spent taking the XLS Programming Tool. He aced this complicated course with a final exam score of 96%!

Bobby’s training rounds out the previous Siemens Fire Alarm training done by Ron Beshk who in 2010 attended both the MXL and FS250 Fire Alarm training sessions that Siemens offered in Buffalo Grove IL. These schools are a part of what we do to stay at the forefront of our industry.

Posted by Rob Read at 4:05 PM 1 Comments

Monday, April 11, 2011

Arborg Fire Department Receives Grant Money

Manitoba is fortunate to have volunteer fire departments throughout our province. I was pleased to see that the Arborg Fire Department received a $15,000.00 Community Places Grant for the development of their training site. What I felt was even more important was the Arborg Fire Departments goal of becoming a regional training facility. The benefits of having local training not only improves the skills of the existing fire fighter, but also helps encourage new members to join who might have otherwise hesitated due to time constraints, and having to travel farther from home.

It’s this type of proactive thinking that will in the long term save the RM’s they serve money, reduce the loss of property, and most importantly could save your life.

Posted by Rob Read at 2:51 PM 0 Comments

Friday, April 08, 2011

Bison Fire Protection's Sprinkler Division Expands

We would like to welcome Jeff Todd to Bison Fire Protection.  He is the newest addition to our Sprinkler Division. 

Jeff brings with him 9 years experience in the sprinkler industry as a Journeyman Sprinkler Fitter, and 15 years in total in the construction industry.  He was an electrian's apprentice for 2 years and then moved on to the sprinkler industry.  He will be a great addition to this division and we welcome him into the Bison Family!

Posted by Bison Fire at 4:34 PM 0 Comments

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Fire Protection Improves With Time

Both Fire Protection and Safety Standards have improved substantially over the last 100 years. These days anything that moves in a mine has fire protection on it such as the skid steer pictured below, and even a few things that don’t move are protected.  These various types of equipment are shown in our Mobile Equipment page. Mines now have underground sprinkler systems in some areas, and fire alarm systems. A few years ago we supplied and installed a dry chemical suppression system to protect an entire underground Lube Room. The attached article is interesting because it shows what people had to endure to get to where we are today.


Cat Skid SteerSkid SteerSkid Steer Engine CompartmentAnsul Fire System

Posted by Bison Fire at 4:13 PM 0 Comments

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Western Canadian Sprinkler Apprentice Skill Competition

The AU Western Canadian Regional Pipe Trades Apprenticeship Skills Competition is April 6th & 7th.  The competition is designed to demonstrate the skills of Manitoba’s Sprinkler Apprentices with the winner going on to compete at the National Competition later this year. The Competition is based on the following 3 parts.


  1. To assess the knowledge attained during apprenticeship, mentoring and experience in the trade of Sprinkler and Fire Protection Installer.
  2. To assess the contestants’ ability to work with the tools of the trade, the equipment of the Sprinkler Industry and apply his/her skills.
  3. To apply problem solving skills relating to the installation, operation, maintenance, service and repair of sprinkler systems.

We are fortunate enough to have our own Alain Rivard sitting on the committee as the Sprinkler Fitting Trade Chair. Alain’s years of experience have been grounded in both working in the field as well as his time spent supporting his trade in these types of committees.


Good Luck to all participants!

Posted by Rob Read at 4:22 PM 0 Comments

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Siemens Launches Sinorex 1230 Clean Agent Suppression In The USA Today

The official launch of Siemens Sinorex 1230 Clean Agent Suppression systems in the US takes place today! You may see some spill over advertising and the US websites should be updated. We anticipate a Canadian launch in about 6 weeks after we get the parts loaded in SAP and our training sessions in order. Manufacturers’ training at our facility is mandatory for those interested in distributing this fantastic new product. I've seen the launch package and the demo unit and marketing collateral material and it’s impressive. Sinorex 1230 is a really exciting product that evaporates 50 times faster than water! Sinorex 1230 is extremely environmentally (ozone and carbon) friendly lasting in the atmosphere only 3-5 days. Supply has been short for the US as the global demand for this material has exceeded supply we'll keep you posted as we approach our formal Canadian introduction. Sinorex 1230 is also listed as Novec 1230. The advantage of the Siemens Sinorex 1230 product is that it is the only clean gas product that is ULC listed with the Fire Alarm System that controls it.

The Siemens Building Technologies Division (Zug, Switzerland) is the world's leading provider of safe, secure and energy efficient solutions for buildings („Green Buildings") and building infrastructure. As a service provider, system integrator and product supplier Building Technologies offers building automation, HVAC, fire safety, security, electrical installation technology and low voltage power distribution. With around 43,000 employees worldwide (September 30), Building Technologies achieved a turnover of €7.0 billion in fiscal year 2009.

Posted by Rob Read at 2:09 PM 1 Comments

Monday, April 04, 2011

NFPA's April Newsletter

NFPA News is a free newsletter providing detailed information on NFPA codes and standards activities. NFPA News typically includes special announcements, notification of proposal and comment-closing dates, requests for comments on NFPA documents, publication of formal interpretations, tentative interim amendments, and errata, and notice of the availability of Standards Council agendas and minutes. There is always something of interest in this letter. NFPA is one of the many associations we belong to that help us stay at the forefront of the fire protection industry.

Posted by Rob Read at 3:41 PM 0 Comments

Friday, April 01, 2011

Mobile Equipment Needs Protection Too

Mobile, or Off-Road equipment is a truly unique type of hazard that requires fire protection. There are many different types of vehicles that require this type of fire protection most commonly found in mining and forestry equipment for obvious reasons. However we also protect vehicles such as forklifts in wood fabrication shops, trucks used to manufacture and haul explosives, trucks used for de-icing aircraft, and heavy equipment in steel mills such as at Mandak Metals in Selkirk.


Mandak is a division of MRM Steel and owned by Gerdau in Brazil, Mandak metals processes scrap metals to MRM Steel who manufacture a number of specialty steel items. Mandak railway supply

dismantles railway rolling stock for all major AAR railways in North and South America and inspects component parts for recycling back to the industry. They employ around 75 people and have been supporting Selkirk since 1979.



                    Kidde IND-21'sExternal Actuator


Kidde IN-45 & Heat DetectorCircuit Monitor & Internal Actuator

Posted by Rob Read at 3:26 PM 0 Comments