When Ben Randle graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1996 with a degree in Fire Protection & Safety Engineering Technology, the NFPA 13 code was “just a slender little manual.” In the 20 years he’s been in the field, Randle says he’s seen tremendous changes and improvements in testing and building protection.

“We now know a lot more about what are in buildings, and how fires behave in these buildings,” Randle says. “We’ve also learned ways that building construction can obstruct sprinklers and that sometimes, how we build buildings can cause sprinklers to not operate. Our NFPA 13 manual has gotten significantly bigger over the years as we’ve learned more about the ways to protect the built environment.”

Randle joined the team as Harrington Group Inc.’s newest senior fire protection consultant in December. The son of a mechanical engineer, Randle has always been a hands-on person himself, and he started tinkering and taking things apart at an early age.

“Any time I’d get a new toy or electronic device, if it had screws in the back of it, and if I got bored playing with it, I’d just take it apart and see how it worked,” he says with a laugh. “My mom always worried when I got out the screwdriver!”

Like a lot of folks in the field, Randle didn’t go to school with the intention of being a fire protection engineer. Originally interested in mechanical engineering, Randle made the switch to fire protection after meeting several students and a professor from the department.

“I had always been interested in fire protection and firefighting,” he says. “The program appealed to me not only because of how specifically disciplined it is, but the wide range of career opportunities that comes from that.”

Randle lives with his wife and two teenage sons in Jenks, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa. When he’s not working remotely for Harrington Group (which will involve traveling to consult with clients, particularly in the Midwest and western states), he channels his energy into long-distance running. Since lacing up a pair of running shoes about five years ago, he’s finished 10 marathons, four 50ks and one 50-mile race. He’s taken some time off from the hobby in recent months due to injuries, but a 50k race is on his calendar for March 2017.