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Fortis Fire & Safety Expands California Presence with Acquisition of CJ Suppression

Fortis Fire & Safety (“Fortis”), one of the nation’s newest fire protection service companies, has acquired CJ Suppression Inc. (CJ) headquartered in Corona, CA. This acquisition expands the California presence of Fortis, anchored by the inaugural acquisition of VFS Fire & Security Services (“VFS”) headquartered in Orange County, California.

“Fortis is excited to welcome the CJ Suppression team into the Fortis family,” said Rich Ennis, Chief Executive Officer of Fortis. “CJ is a high-quality fire protection service company with operations in Southern California that will allow us to expand our foothold and significantly grow our business in California.”

“We intend to continue to invest heavily in our brands across the nation, as we build a multi-regional fire protection service company,” said Ennis. “The culture at CJ is one of customer service and innovation, which fits right into the Fortis model.”

J Moyer has seen many successful years of growth under his ownership tenure of CJ. “Partnering with Fortis was a well thought out and deliberate decision based on our shared values and people first philosophy,” said Moyer. “CJ will significantly benefit from the economies of scale that come from being part of a well-capitalized multi-regional company. We are excited to be able to ensure that our customers and our employees continue to receive the very best this industry has to offer,” he added.

“CJ Suppression strengthens the Fortis presence in California, a key element of our strategy of developing multi-regional capability,” said John Solonynko, COO of VFS. “We continue to seek opportunities to expand Fortis’ presence across the country and are excited about the other acquisition and partnership opportunities in the pipeline.”

About Fortis Fire & Safety

Fortis Fire & Safety is one of the nation’s newest fire protection service companies built on the philosophy of People First, Quality Service and Building Lifetime Clients. Fortis will position itself as the next generation of fire protection by building an industry leading company through close partnerships with regional operators and investing heavily in technology.

Jeremiah Crocker headshot

Employee Highlight: Meet Jeremiah Crocker

At Fortis, we’re committed to excellence in everything we do. Our leadership epitomizes this commitment.

Our leadership team stands out for their strength of character and dedication to our people-first philosophy. Jeremiah Crocker, our Vice President of Business Development, is no exception.

Read on to get to know Jeremiah and learn more about the Fortis team.

Let’s Start By Getting to Know Jeremiah

Jeremiah Crocker is the Vice President of Business Development at Fortis. As a VP of Business Development, Jeremiah develops and leads our acquisition strategy to support Fortis’s growth goals.

What is Jeremiah’s Background?

Jeremiah has spent his entire career in the fire protection industry. He grew up in a small town in New Hampshire and went to college in Massachusetts at Worcester Polytechnic Institute for Fire Protection Engineering. He started his career lighting things on fire and calling it “engineering” at Tyco Fire Protection Products. He worked in Business Development, Innovation, Product Management and Commercial Leadership roles prior to having the opportunity to join Fortis.

What Does He Enjoy When He Isn’t Working?

With three young kids, Jeremiah loves spending as much time with them as possible. Outside of chasing the kids around, he is a big sports fan, and he loves getting outside to run or golf.

What Are Jeremiah’s Top 3 Favorite Podcasts/Books?

Jeremiah has been a big podcast fan for years and his current go to listens are All-In, Business Wars and American Innovations (while mixing in whatever true crime podcast is topping the charts).

Learn more about Jeremiah by checking out his LinkedIn, here.

Get to Know Fortis

Fortis is the next generation of fire protection companies. We are technologically forward-thinking, flexible, and dedicated to our people. We take a long-term view, investing in our people, growth, our quality of service, and innovation.

Interested in Joining Our Team?

Let us tell you a little about ourselves. At Fortis, we provide industry-leading fire protection services across the United States. We are on a mission to build the premier Fire Protection company in the United States. 

To accomplish this, we know the importance of investing in our people. We take our commitment to the growth and development of our people very seriously.

Part of that commitment is manifest in the ways we foster connection, communication and personal growth and development in addition to productivity and our commitment to excellence every day. Learn more about careers at Fortis, here.

fire fighter teaching about fire prevention in fire prevention week

100th Year of Fire Prevention Week

Since 1922, the National Fire Protection Association has sponsored the public observance of Fire Prevention Week. Throughout the past century, fire prevention week consisted of children and adults learning how to stay safe in case of a fire. Additionally, firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by fires.

In this article, we’ll review the history of fire prevention week and reveal the 2022 campaign. Let’s dive in.

The History of Fire Prevention Week

In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed Fire Prevention Week a national observance. This makes Fire Prevention Week the longest-running public health observance in the United States. 

Why FPW is the Week of October 9th

Fire Prevention Week is observed each year during the week of October 9th in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire. According to, the Great Chicago Fire “burned from October 8 to October 10, 1871, and destroyed thousands of buildings, killed an estimated 300 people and caused an estimated $200 million in damages.”

Fire prevention week occurs during the same week each year to honor the lives lost in the Great Chicago Fire and make efforts to prevent similar events from happening in the future. 

The 2022 “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape” Campaign 

 The campaign of the 2022 Fire Prevention Week™ (FPW) is “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape”™.  The campaign for 2022 strives to educate participants about simple but important actions they can take to keep themselves and others safe from home fires. Key focuses of this campaign include fire escape planning and practicing as well as alarms.

Why Fire Escape Plans Are so Important

According to NFPA, today’s homes burn faster than ever. In the event of a fire, you have about two minutes or less to safely escape from the time the alarm arounds. One’s ability to get out of the home during a fire depends on early warning from smoke alarms and advanced planning.

How to Start Creating a Fire Escape Plan

Every home is different and therefore, every fire escape plan will be different. Consider starting with these guidelines:

  • Draw your building floor plan using a grid.
  • Label all the rooms and identify the doors and windows.  
  • Plan two escape routes from every room.
  • Provide alternatives for anyone with a disability.
  • Agree on a meeting place where everyone will gather after you have escaped

Fire escape plans should consider everyone in the home or building. For example, children, older adults or people with disabilities may need additional assistance. Consider assigning someone to help them in the event of an emergency. 

While NFPA is focusing on home fires, these same concepts carry into commercial fires as well. An updated fire protection system and a practiced escape plan can save the lives of people in commercial buildings. Those working or owning commercial buildings can practice fire safety by ensuring their fire escape plan is well-known and practiced. 

Let’s Talk Fire and Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms sense smoke well before people can and should effectively alert people of danger. As a general rule, alarms should be:

  • In every bedroom
  • Outside of the sleeping areas (such as a hallway, for example)
  • On each level, including the basement 

Smoke alarms should not be installed over the stove or in bathroom shower areas. The heat from these areas may trigger the alarm. 

The requirements for commercial buildings differ from standards for homes. We urge owners of commercial buildings to research the requirements for their property. Find more information on NFPA 72, here.

For more information about NFPA’s Fire Protection Week, check out their website!

At Fortis, we provide industry-leading fire protection services across the United States. We are on a mission to build the premier Fire Protection company in the United States. To accomplish this, we are acquiring the best fire safety companies –like VFS, LSM, and MeshWrx!– and welcoming them into the Fortis family of brands. Learn more about us, here.

sunset shot of a father with toddler silhouetted agains the sun on a field of low cut grass

Exit Planning vs Succession Planning vs Legacy Planning: What’s the difference?

The terms succession planning and exit planning are sometimes used interchangeably.  At the same time, Legacy planning is a part of succession and exit planning but can be addressed on its own for those HNWIs who are not also business owners. While succession, legacy, and exit plans require care and attention, there are some important differences. 

Both succession planning and exit planning fall under the umbrella of Business Transition Planning. 

Business Transition Planning is the umbrella term for any strategy focused on creating, maximizing, and preserving the value of a business as it prepares for and experiences transition. 

A successful strategic business transition plan targets three crucial areas of need: 

What makes up a successful exit plan? 

Exit planning takes a comprehensive look at the structures, financial, cultural, and legal that make a successful exit possible. It is the strategic process employed when a business is going to be sold or is going to merge with a third party. Because an unknown element will impact the business valuation, its leadership, its culture, and its productivity, the process of setting up a successful exit plan can take between 3- 5 years.

Some of the essential elements of a successful exit plan are: 

Who should have a succession plan? 

Succession Planning is focused primarily on the transfer of leadership and financial control of the business to a family member or key employee. When a succession plan is put in place early enough, there can be an opportunity for the successor to develop their skills and experience in order to step into the leadership role and make a smooth and successful transition.  For this reason, a successful succession plan can be built into the business from the beginning or, at least be implemented well before discussions begin regarding the business owner’s transition out of a decision-making role. 

When the succession plan involves an ESOP or the transfer to a key person inside the organization, there are legal details involving representations & warranties, a transitional period during which the owner will remain on in an advisory capacity, and the structure of acquisition of the company from a financial standpoint that need to be addressed.  When the succession is generational, there are issues of control, family structure, rivalries, and the future of the company that should be addressed from a financial and cultural standpoint.  

How does a legacy plan play into exit and succession planning? 

Legacy planning can also play a part in exit planning and succession planning. While exit and succession planning are both focused on the business owner’s departure from their role as chief decision-maker, Legacy planning is focused on the impact that the increased time may have on the owner’s life and increased funds may have on the community around them. 

Integrating elements of legacy planning into an exit or succession plan may involve bequests to philanthropies to both offset taxes and leave a permanent positive impact behind.  It may be as straightforward as the choice to remain on a board in an advisory capacity in a boardroom named for you or as complex as a trust that funds the education or ventures of generations to come. 

For business owners who are high net worth individuals, the complexities around major money-in-motion events are not to be understated.  With so much on the line, it is essential to get the right advice.  Trusted wealth advisor relationships, family back offices with lawyers who know your business structures, reliable advisors to your family as a whole – not just to you the business owner are important as you start to plan for an exit or succession in your business. Putting a plan in place does not mean that you have to stay on that timeline. 

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How to Prepare for Exit

Having an active exit strategy in place protects your business. An updated exit strategy will protect the values you have established within your company and it will help create an easy transition for both your employees and your investors. 

These exit plans give you — the owner — a plan for the future and a direction in which your company can grow. Not only will it create a supplemental income for you, but it could also reduce tax impacts on your estate and family. 

So how do you begin this process?

Start with your valuation. Every business, big or small, must know its valuation. This starts with taking inventory of your current value and where you stand amongst competitors. The right valuation can set your company up for success, but if you value your company incorrectly it can lead to more problems down the line. 

Regardless of your future plan for your business, whether that may be selling or passing it down, you need a valuation to achieve your exit goals. To start analyzing your business’ worth, look at your total revenue, pretax income, accounts receivable and payable, loans, and rent or mortgage payments. 

Once you have figured out your valuation, it’s time to start planning your exit.

There are a few ways to figure out your perfect exit plan and a few different options. Here are the types of exit to consider, and what they may mean for your company:

  • Liquidation and closing your doors: This may be a tough decision to make, especially if you have built your company from the ground up, but sometimes this can be the best option to retire from work and continue living your life the way you want to!
  • Sell: Another great option if you want to move on from your company is to sell to another individual. Ensure that the person you are selling to will continue to run your business with the original values in mind and always has the best interest of the company in mind.
  • IPO (Initial Public Offering): This option can be more difficult for startups but could also be an option if you decide that it’s the best option for your company.
  • Merger and Acquisition: This option can be beneficial for small businesses who want to grow their business. If you merge with a similar company or sell to a company that is similar to yours, it will increase your reach and, in turn, increase your revenue.
  • Passive Income: You can pass the responsibilities of running your company to someone else, as you enjoy an ongoing revenue stream. You keep your ownership and receive annuities while letting someone else take the workload off of your plate.

If you prepare your business for an exit at the beginning of creating your company will set you up for success as you move forward. There are various options and routes you can take, and it may seem overwhelming at first

When it comes to planning a business exit, it all begins with keeping excellent financials. As you work to prepare your company for sale here are some tips on what to look out for. 

Many companies do not have financials that are clear and reflect an accurate representation of their business’ performance. Accurate reporting and expansive financial knowledge will help transform your books to ensure they are set up for success as you plan for exit,

According to one of the main reasons it takes so long for businesses to get their company ready to sell “is that the overwhelming majority of small business owners don’t keep their financial and business records in anywhere near the condition a prospective buyer wants to rely on.” 

So, what does preparing for exit look like for you?

Work with your accounting department to ensure the books are as accurate as possible. You may want to bring in an outsourced accounting department or CFO to validate and prepare your financials for exit if you do not have a C Suite finance leader.

Would you be interested to know what a motivated buyer would pay for your company? If so, reach out to our team to find out! The process takes about 2 days of work and the results may surprise you.

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Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

This article was originally published on

At Fortis, our goal is to invest in our people. It is the path to being the premier fire and life safety company and we take our commitment to the growth and development of our people very seriously.

Part of that commitment is manifest in the ways we foster connection, communication and personal growth and development in addition to productivity and our commitment to excellence every day.

Because of this, we source articles that we feel highlight our commitment to people-first culture. Enjoy!

Hiring and retaining is easier said than done. The maxim “many hands make light work” seems like a no-brainer when running an organization. Although teamwork is essential, you can’t just hire any “hands” to work in your organization. You have to think about their long-term devotion to the company, their fit in the company culture, and whether they genuinely make your life as a manager easier.

“No company can consistently grow revenues faster than its ability to get enough of the right people to implement that growth and still become a great company.”

– Jim Collins in How the Mighty Fall

It takes time and effort to find the “right people” to accompany you on your company’s journey.

It can be stressful to pass up otherwise qualified individuals who you know in your heart do not meet your specific needs. This stress, however, will be offset by avoiding the frustration of replacing the wrong person after months (or even worse, years) of trying to make it work. And once you do find the talented ones who are committed to your team, you’ll feel reassured that you found the “right” people to take your company to the next level.

The “right” people are the employees who naturally crave training, mentorship, and coaching— and are the ones you should invest in. The biggest mistake for managers today is embracing complacency. When organizations fail to provide professional development opportunities for their workers, they suffer early departures and high turnover rates. Companies will not only lose critical skills and information but will also have to bear the high expense of replacing personnel.

Take the Initiative to Invest

It is crucial to describe potential development opportunities to your employees and show serious interest in their intellectual development and future. Your employees will feel acknowledged, respected, and more loyal to the organization—all of which is an upward trajectory to retaining the “right” people. Moreover, implementing training programs to help your employees build and enhance their skills helps guarantee that you are fostering a competitive workforce in the future.

Let’s Talk About Emotional Intelligence

Buying stocks seems pretty straightforward, but it’s honestly not an easy feat. It’s incredibly nerve-wracking because returns aren’t guaranteed.

Investing in stocks is the same as investing in your people.

Companies struggle to select an optimal employee development program to implement in their workplace. But there is one essential component that all skills rely on: emotional intelligence.

Step Back from Micromanaging

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to detect, interpret, and regulate your own emotions to reduce stress and anxiety, communicate with impact, connect with others, overcome life’s obstacles, and resolve conflict. It is divided into five composite scales: self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal relations, decision making, and stress management.

Here are some examples of worthwhile investments in your staff that you can undertake today:

  • Hard and Soft Skills Building Programs
  • Emotional Intelligence Training
  • Leadership Development Programs
  • Mentorship and Coaching

Emotional intelligence is the utmost investment your firm can make in its employees today. It’s something that we all have, regardless of our position in the organization– but despite how many years we spend in college, most of us have never learned how to develop it in school. But the path to excelling begins with understanding and leveraging our emotional intelligence in all facets of life.

It Goes Both Ways

The employer-employee relationship is a two-way effort. For your employees to make your life easier, managers’ deliberate effort to be the employer of choice. After all, employees don’t leave companies—they leave managers. Bad managers foster toxic work environments, leaving their most valuable employees exhausted and anxious, which not only creates burnout but plummets their organization’s productivity. Bad managers pervade all parts of their employees’ lives; once workplace woes emerge in their homes, it causes a cascade of stress, discontent, and misery that impacts their personal lives. To ensure it doesn’t come to this and to take your leadership skills to the next level, check our latest blogs on leadership.

The Clock is Ticking

Whether it’s remote or live, EQ training is a highly versatile means of increasing employee experience in the workplace, from building and advancing skillsets to stimulating team bonding. But it’s important to note that the sooner you begin investing in your people, the more fruitful your investments will be in the long run on your company’s productivity, performance, and profitability..

overhead shot of storage tanks at an oceanside facility at dusk

Above Ground Tank Storage Requirements in 2022

Most likely, your commercial property has an above-ground storage tank (AST). When’s the last time you had your tank(s) inspected? Odds are, your above-ground storage tank has taken the back burner in regards to safety regulations and guidelines.

Above Ground Tank Requirements

The National Institute for Storage Management (NISTM) located in Houston, Texas, outlines regulations and guidelines that should be followed for your commercial property’s safety.

In fact, NISTM has a course called “Tanks 101” that provides all the information that you need to know about your above-ground storage tank. The course overview talks about both above ground and under ground tanks in horizontal and vertical configurations.

Here’s a quick rundown of what NISTM has to say. “Having designed and built a good tank, the next problem is to ensure it remains safe and leak-free. The focus is on the well-known tank inspection standard API 653.”

The NISTM also claims that the following basic principles are key to understanding the safety of your above-ground storage tank:

  • “Shell design
  • Floating roofs
  • Foundations
  • Fixed roofs
  • Venting
  • Hydrostatics tests
  • Materials of construction”

As a commercial property owner, it’s important to be aware of these factors when building a new tank so that future inspections run smoothly.

Are you still itching to hear more from NISTM? You’re in luck! NISTM is soon hosting the 14th Annual National Aboveground Storage Tank Conference and Tradeshow this December. Visit the link above to learn more.

Common Challenges with Tank Inspections and Testing

Now for some common challenges regarding tank inspections and testing.

The federal requirements for above ground storage tanks say there should be frequent inspections and evaluations for any bulk storage container. 

Similarly, The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) provides a downloadable “Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan (SPCC) Program” that contains a Bulk Storage Container Fact Sheet. 

The fact sheet states you must “determine, in accordance with industry standards, the appropriate qualifications for personnel performing tests and inspections, the frequency and type of testing and inspections, which take into account container size, configuration, and design.”

The EPA also provides the difference between containers, which include:

  • Shop-built
  • Field-erected
  • Skid-mounted
  • Elevated
  • Equipped with liner
  • Double-walled
  • Partially buried

Required Testing 

The inspections that are required for bulk storage containers include: 

  • “Test or inspect each container for integrity on a regular schedule and whenever you make material repairs
  • Frequently inspect the outside of the container for signs of deterioration, discharges, or accumulation of oil inside diked areas. This visual inspection is intended to be a routine walk-around and inside the container’s supports and foundations,
  • You must retain testing and inspection records for 3 years. EPA recommends that formal test records or reports be retained for the life of the container.” 

It’s important to keep reports and inspections organized so you have evidence and reference of inspections that have been performed as well as when the next routine inspection should take place.

Integrity Testing

Some integrity tests that aren’t federally mandated, but HIGHLY encouraged include: 

  • Visual inspections
  • Hydrostatic testing
  • Radiographic testing
  • Ultrasonic testing
  • Acoustic emissions testing
  • Signs of deterioration
  • Accumulation of oil
  • Other systems of non-destructive testing

With the amount of testing that is required for any property or business owner, sometimes reports and small inspections fall through the cracks. 

Additionally, there are frequent changes in industry standards. Take the extra step of checking in with your Fire and Safety Inspection team to ensure all above-ground tank requirements are being met. 

Cargo crisis got you down? Us too. Learn more about how the cargo crisis might be affecting your industry in the future and why marine safety should be a top priority with a large number of cargo ships currently being stalled.

How long do you keep your safety inspection records and paperwork? It can be tempting to chuck the paperwork into the trash and forget about the details of your inspection. But, did you know that after a safety inspection of your above-ground tank, you’re supposed to keep those records for a minimum of 3 years?

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Fortis Fire & Safety Acquires LifeSafety Management

“Fortis is excited to welcome the LSM team into the Fortis family as its first acquisition in Florida,” said Tom Vining, Executive Chairman of Fortis. “LSM is a high-quality fire protection service company operating throughout South Florida and will provide us with a foothold to significantly grow our presence in Florida.”

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Fortis Fire & Safety Announces Its Inaugural Acquisition of VFS Fire & Security Services

“We intend to invest heavily in California and Texas, where VFS currently operates, as we build a multi-regional fire protection service company,” said Vining. “The VFS team is exceptional, with their best in class focus on customer service and employee development.”

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Imperial Capital Launches Fortis Fire & Safety

Toronto-based, Imperial Capital is a leading lower middle-market private equity firm focused on North American opportunities to build or acquire growth-oriented platform investments in targeted industry niches within healthcare, business, and consumer services industries.