Meet the Board Initiative May - 2023
"A quick chat" at the water cooler with Scott Pugsley
CFSA Director; Past President; Chair; Membership committee
Tell us how you started in the fire safety industry?
With my Father’s advice, I was pursuing a career field where you would always be needed. This led me to firefighting or law enforcement. Thankfully my application at Seneca college, within their Fire Protection Engineering Technology program was accepted. From there I quickly became fascinated with fire sciences fire dynamics and more so the engineering side of Fire Protection. This led me to pivoting in my career choice as I became more and more interested in the field of automatic fire sprinklers. From there I was recruited to work for a Fire Protection contractor in the US. After 10+ years there we moved home to be closer to family. I was able to pivot again and pursue fire protection engineering work in contracting and consulting; and ultimately a teaching role back at Seneca college was my end goal.
Was there a role you have held that provided the greatest learning opportunity - and what was the learning?
I think there’s learning opportunities within all roles, it may be more a matter of are you ready for that opportunity. One example of this for me is the time that I spent as a volunteer firefighter within the US. One might expect the process of becoming a firefighter through various fire academies including the National Fire Academy would be the obvious opportunity. I’m more inclined to say that the experiences in the Firehouse, on the apparatus floor, and within my community helped to develop my interpersonal skills in ways no textbook ever could. This is perhaps a topic which could be covered in an entire article unto its own but I certainly feel very strongly in that the experiences that I’ve had at MBFD influenced me much more then I would have expected.
Why did volunteer with the CFSA?
What drew me to the CFSA the most was that they were not necessarily limited to one particular field of Fire Protection. Stu Evans with the College, Janet O’Carroll and several directors within CFSA at the time all reached out to see if I was interested to become involved.
What projects or initiatives are you involved with CFSA?
Perhaps most notably was being the President of the association during the challenging times of COVID-19 . During this time I completed two consecutive two year terms as the association’s President. I’m very happy to say that as part of our Covid planning, we were able to host successful virtual conferences that was well-received by both delegates and sponsors alike. I also was able to pilot and promote a student membership level within the association that allows students to obtain free membership while attending a corporate plus category college or university. Additionally I’m very happy to have been involved with the development of the CFSA’s social media and awards programs.
Tell us a bit about your professional self and what you're doing now?
Presently I am a Professor and Industry Coordinator within Seneca polytechnics school of Fire Protection engineering technology program. It is here where I teach within the disciplines of automatic fire sprinklers. Additionally I work with a great team of talented staff and other coordinators for the continued development and delivery of our great program.
In the wide world of Fire Engineering / Fire Safety topics, what are you most passionate about?
This is an easy one for me, residential based Fire Sprinkler Systems is an area that I think we are significantly lacking in Canada. There are technologies and systems in place now that could have a significant impact and reduction of residential fire related injuries and or fatalities.
Volunteering is a great way to give back. If you had a message for others, what would that be?
Volunteering within an area that you’re very passionate about helps to keep your interests very high and allow you to work with equally passionate people.
If you were asked "what is an area of fire safety focus for Canada in 2023", what would that be?
Residential Fire Sprinklers should be a focus in 2023 as they should have been a focus 2 or 3 decades ago. Until we actively find ways to incorporate these systems into new and existing homes the growing numbers of deaths and injuries will be difficult to contain.