Last week I introduced a new Thrust Block Calculator and explored some of the concepts around the design and function of Thrust Blocks.
Here's the new expanded thrust block calculator. With similar inputs as before, we're now able to calculate the thrust block volume required, as well as determine the height and width required for the thrust block.
Toolkit is Here
Well it's here! The MeyerFire Toolkit is past a beta version and ready for you.
To celebrate here's the latest version I've created and free access that runs through the end of September. You can download the complete Toolkit with installation instructions below:
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One fundamental aspect of fluid movement is thrust force, which is created when a flow path bends, tees, wyes, dead ends, or reduces. In order to counter the unbalanced forces that are created at these locations, the pipe and fittings must be mechanically restrained from separating, welded together, or otherwise fixed from movement.
Push-On Underground Joints
One popular method of preventing pipe separation for underground pipe is gasketed push-on joints for underground pipe that do not have special locking devices, but permit pipe to be installed in any direction and at any point along the path.
Role of Thrust Blocks
In order to prevent the internal pressure from forcing the pipe and fittings to separate, blocking (or "thrust blocks") provide stability and allow the surrounding soil to accept the thrust force from the pipe assembly.
Soil conditions vary in its ability to handle forces. Thrust blocks allow a narrow point force to be spread and distributed across larger areas of soil down to a pressure that the soil can bear.
Thrust blocks take the point force created from the change in direction of the water (static and dynamic)
and distribute that force to the soil.
The tool below is an early part of a larger effort to determine the thrust block detailing. In the coming weeks, I would like to add block height, width, volume and visualizations to detail the parameters.
Don't see the tool below? Click here.
For those who work routinely with thrust block and their calculations under NFPA 13, what else could I add to this tool to be more useful? Comment here or email me at email@example.com if you have any ideas.
The Toolkit - Launches Next Week
The long-awaited Toolkit launches next week - complete with this and other tools in a downloadable software package. Be the office hero with quick and printable tools, as well as access to the Sprinkler Database and the ability to post questions to users on the Daily Discussion forum.
Look out for news regarding the launch next week.
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"Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking." - William Butler Yeats
This site is built to start a discussion.
You see, I'm not a 30-year industry veteran, standard committee member, or organization technical expert. I'm perhaps a mediocre engineer, average illustrator, novice website developer and author. Perhaps the thing I'm best at is Microsoft Excel, but as the son of two accountants - that's just in my blood.
The only real unique angle I have is a combination of those items that I've used to compile these online resources.
In the end, though, that might be all it takes to start the discussion.
What is Wrong
I've seen fire protection that could be better and you probably have too.
I've seen design documents where fire protection is completely not-addressed, where even a "provide sprinkler heads throughout" would have been an improvement. There's bad installations, a lack of resources to review drawings & calculations, and educational resources that exist but aren't great.
Who We Are
Fire protection is a niche market.
You don’t need me to tell you that – far and away the majority of designers and engineers in the industry are comprised of small design outposts. It’s not the Jensen Hughes of the worlds that make up most of the industry – it’s the mom and pop contractors, freelancers, MEP firms, insurers, building owner’s engineers, and small fire protection consultants that make up the majority of fire protection design, installation and review in the US and abroad.
How do I know? I interact with these people all the time. People that are far smarter and more experienced than myself. The resources I’ve just started to share are not new – they’re just shared publicly across corporate borders for perhaps the first time.
You may already know - in fire protection we're the lone-gunners.
Mechanical and electrical engineering are massive industries. For every newly licensed fire protection engineer, there are 14 newly licensed electrical engineers and 17 new mechanical engineers. And that’s despite the tremendous growth we’ve seen in fire protection engineering in the last couple decades.
We're already on a small island compared to those disciplines.
We do have something that those massive fields don’t – we have the fire (pun intended). Fire protection designers, engineers, installers, and reviewers in my experience are far more passionate about this field than the average mechanical, electrical, plumbing or structural engineer.
We’re a niche market and I'm told constantly a "rare breed" (I think that's a compliment...). Being niche in addition to understanding the importance of what we do is part of what makes so many people in fire protection so passionate about our careers. It's the niche market and that passion that makes the community aspect of what we do so important.
I had lunch with a new colleague I admire last week who had previously worked in other fields and he specifically mentioned that the community within fire protection is a major differentiation for our industry.
Importance of Independence
I’m not a product manufacturer, I’m not a tiered membership organization, and I’m not a design standard. Believe it or not unless you’re one of about three people following this blog I’m also not a competitor to you or your company.
Independence on the part of this website may be the most important perspective I can create to offer something meaningful for the industry.
Why? Because if there’s something that the industry could use, I want to create it. If there’s a better, faster, leaner way of helping people like us do fire protection better, then this website is built to be right at that intersection.
The tools here are not limited to representing one manufacturer's products.
The articles here are not so high-level that you can read three full-page spreads and have nothing to apply to your workflow. I don’t write with the hope of sounding sophisticated.
A Rising Tide Raises All Ships
I’ve been asked before about why I’d consider sharing tools and resources I’ve used, when it’s essentially "training the competition".
As mentioned earlier; I’m really not a competitor. But more importantly, how much better could the industry be if there are greater numbers of people who are passionate, sharp, and involved in fire protection?
If we’ve all witnessed a lack of concern for fire protection, how could offering up the small things we learn as we go not help us all out in the end?
I still come across architects who had yet to work with or weren't familiar hiring a fire protection design team. How much better could the industry be served if fire protection were considered early in project development the way mechanical, electrical, structural and plumbing design is?
How much better could fire protection be if bid documents contained water supply information, well-established design criteria with the building owner’s involvement, and basic coordination such that the sprinkler installer isn’t the bad guy when he installs a main?
How much better could building owners be served if sprinkler contractors didn’t have to take on so much risk with bidding empty documents?
How much better would it be for review authorities if someone else was looking out for code compliance, and they didn’t have to be the bad guy every time?
Our past culture of minimal fire protection involvement early in project development doesn’t have to be our future.
With a basic set of competent specifications, contractors can actually give building owners what they want while making profit even in competitive bid scenarios – all while review authorities can receive better documents and better results.
Getting there isn’t a matter of mandating FPE involvement, forcing continuing education or ramming more requirements on the industry. In my opinion doing better fire protection is getting knowledge and tools into the hands of people that can use it. The more tools and help we can create, the better we're all served in the long run.
The Future of MeyerFire
This website is here for the long run.
I have been so thrilled to meet and hear from such a variety of sharp and passionate people after developing this basic website. My hope is that this website is a conduit that helps bring people to the industry, help share knowledge and help share resources that little by little move us all forward and up.
It's all about the movement towards better fire protection.
The tools posted here are literally about 3% of the ideas others have shared and I have down in writing for future development. There's so much to create and share, and it's just getting started.
This summer (July 11th) will see the launch of the Toolkit, which is a printable, savable, downloadable software package incorporating all of the tools on this website. For Weekly Exam users, July will also have an on-demand practice exams, offering unlimited runs of questions you've faced but with different inputs & solutions to extend your prep ability.
Later this summer and into the fall I'll be working towards new design tools & resources to add online and to the toolkit, while also helping support the ongoing community in the MeyerFire Daily space.
Between following the Blog, the Daily Questions, beta testing the new software package that will debut two weeks from today, or using the PE Exam Tools, thank you for being a part of the movement towards better fire protection.
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Shop drawings (or installation drawings, fabrication drawings, or working plans) are a cornerstone of the fire protection industry. Prepared by or under the installation contractor, this design package contains the most important details concerning the design of fire sprinkler systems.
NFPA 13 has specific requirements to what is required for a shop drawing submittal. It is enforceable by the Authority Having Jurisdiction anywhere that NFPA 13 is used as the reference standard.
Below is a basic checklist for items that are required to be indicated in a shop drawing package, with references to whichever edition of NFPA 13 is being used.
There's many items required to be included in a set of shop drawings beyond just the basic design parameters.
Don't Be A Jerk
Unfortunately I have seen these references abused - an engineer rejecting submittals for not including a graphic scale, for instance, which does nothing to improve the technical content of the submittal but does adequately upset every person involved in a project.
It is a rare submittal that achieves and includes every single aspect of the checklist (how often do you see a full-building section, for instance?). However, if you're a review party, review engineer, or shop drawing designer/engineer, this re-organized checklist with references may help clarify expectations for the design package.
Shop Drawing Checklist
When using this tool, select the edition of NFPA 13 used in the red box on the right-hand side. The references and checkboxes will autopopulate based upon your selection.
Don't see the tool below? Click here to see it.
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Based on the feedback and response about an earlier article about Sprinkler Requirements in Bathrooms, it only makes sense to extend a roadmap for navigating requirements concerning sprinklers in closets.
For such a simple topic, this work took two weeks and will still require further exploration in the coming weeks.
The premise for determining whether a closet requires a sprinkler would intuitively be fairly easy, as the question implies a yes/no black and white answer. The development to get to where we are currently, however, is governed by experience and studies into the risk/benefit posed by providing sprinklers in closets.
Does providing a sprinkler within a closet improve building protection and aid in better life safety? Yes, in most (or perhaps even every) circumstance.
While in concept determining whether a sprinkler is required for a closet would typically be a straight-forward cut-and-dry process, the code path to determine whether it is required or not is dependent upon multiple factors.
However, there are also competing objectives for standards such as NFPA 13R (Low-Rise Residential Occupancies) and NFPA 13D (One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes), which is to create affordable systems with a life-safety objective in lieu of property protection.
Attempting to create affordable systems is not inherently a bad thing; it only creates less friction between the building owner paying for or deciding to install a sprinkler system.
Why Not All Small Closets?
Why is a 10 sqft apartment closet any different than a 10 sqft closet in a motel? They could be constructed the exact same.
The difference is in the totality of the situation: NFPA 101 and by extension NFPA 13 recognize that "inherent ignition sources and combustible fuel load" are very different for different occupancies. In general, where closets can more easily accumulate high fuel loads (longer-term living situations), the less likely a sprinkler will be allowed to be omitted.
NFPA 101 - what about the IBC?
NFPA 101 outlines specific allowances based upon occupancies to determine closet sprinkler requirements. The International Building Code does not address these same areas, rather deferring those requirements to NFPA 13, 13R, or 13D.
What if both IBC and NFPA 101 Apply?
Many healthcare applications find that the IBC is enforced by a local jurisdiction while NFPA 101 applies due to healthcare credential requirements of CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services). Typically the most stringent requirement would be the guiding direction in these instances, but it would be prudent to work with code authorities to resolve these conflicts where they arise.
2016 Edition Changes
The 2016 Edition of NFPA 101 offered a handful of changes specific to closets. You'll see in the breakout below that this flowchart only applies to the 2016 Editions of NFPA 13, NFPA 13R, NFPA 13D, and NFPA 101. With so many changes between the editions, I'm planning to recreate this chart with prior editions for reference.
The chart below is a visual summary of the decisions that lead to various sections of code. Despite the simple yes/no nature of whether a sprinkler is required in a closet or not, you'll notice the complexity of the decision tree within NFPA 101. Click on the chart for an enlarged version below.
Flowchart for 2016 closet fire sprinkler requirements
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As promised I've been busy developing all of the tools available from this site into a downloadable software package, where you can quickly run calculations, save, and print your work. I'm calling it the MeyerFire Toolkit.
Here's the info page about the MeyerFire Toolkit.
The Toolkit is a downloadable software package with an assortment of basic tools for the fire protection professional.
I have the software to a point now that I'd love to gather feedback from you - if you're interested.
If you'd like to beta test the software (try it out and poke around for free), please just reply to this email or shoot me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org letting me know you're interested. I'll send a link for a trial version of the software.
While it would be great to get a gauge on where the software is now, I'm far more interested in where it can go in the coming months and couple years. I've been very encouraged by the interest and support to date and I think what these tools are now hardly scratches the surface of what could be developed to help fire protection professionals like you work faster and smarter.
If you'd like to give it a try, all I ask is that you let me know your thoughts about it - usefulness, ways it can be improved, your level of interest - anything that might help build a better resource going forward.
See more about it all here: MeyerFire Toolkit. Thank you!
For the Fire Protection PE Exam, units and unit conversion is critical.
In general practice, I've only rarely come across a need to convert units. However, with an audience as wide as those who follow this blog, I'm happy to say that I've just released a Unit Conversion tool that covers the most common fire protection units, including hydraulics, lighting, temperature, and dimensional units.
Just enter a quantity in any cell on the first column to get a series of converted values on the right.
If you don't see the unit converter below, see the full unit conversion tool here.
DAILY PROBLEMS RETURNING
If you didn't receive a separate email earlier this morning, then you're not already subscribed to my daily fire protection problems.
Each summer throughout the PE Exam season, I release daily practice problems that mimic content on the Fire Protection PE Exam.
If you're studying for the exam, or like most subscribers just interested in seeing daily practice and discussion, then you can sign up to receive these emails by updating your subscription preferences at the bottom of this email, or check both "Weekly Blog" and "Daily Problems" interest here.
This site is all about helping you create excellent fire protection - that could be design, review, consulting, or installation.
If you don't get these free weekly tools & articles, subscribe here.
After posting a Flammable & Combustible Liquid tool I occasionally use a few weeks ago, some of the feedback I received included requests for similar provisions on the United States Department of Transportation (US DOT) and United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification (GHS).
The US DOT classifications come from the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 49, 173.120. Cornell Law School offers access to the regulation here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/173.120.
The United Nations GHS system resembles the NFPA flammable liquid classifications, except the thresholds for Flash Point and Boiling Point differ slightly, are metric-based, and have different Categorization labels. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) offers a guide on the GHS System here.
(Can't see the tool below? View the full version here)
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SFPE Releases 2018 Required References
This week the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) released the required references for this fall's Principles of Engineering (PE) Exam. Interestingly enough, NFPA 72 is back on the list of required references after being removed for the 2017 exam.
Changes to Weights of Topics for 201
One other important update from last year's exam is the weighting of problems overall. SFPE has adjusted the number of questions dedicated to each topic, which has been a point of focus to modernize the exam for SFPE's Professional Qualifications Committee.
The 2018 Fire Protection PE Exam incorporates changes in topic weighting to better match industry expectations.
Thoughts on Adjusted Exam Weighting
If you plan to take the exam this year, what does this mean? Not much in the big-picture. The bulk of the content is still very closely related to what was in the exam before. The weighting of the questions isn't a firm barrier but more of a loose goal for each year's exam anyways.
I believe the most noticeable difference might be the number of special hazard questions, which has been reduced by half to now make up only 5% of the exam.
Fire Protection Remains 3rd Toughest Exam for First-Timers
Of 24 different PE Exam disciplines, Fire Protection remains one of the most difficult for first-time test takers to pass.
Why is this? Primarily, it's because the Fire Protection PE Exam covers such a variety of topics (active systems, smoke control, fire dynamics fundamentals, and life safety) that any one individual is unlikely to have depth in. It can be easy to underestimate the exam when taking it for the first time.
Pass Rate for Repeat Examinees Improves
If there's reason for hope, the pass rate for repeat-test examinees was the highest in 2017 that it's been in recent years, at 48%. The interest in obtaining a Fire Protection PE has also grown, up to 266 examiness marking a 23% growth in just two years.
Weekly Exam Series Returning
The best source for extra problems and practice is also returning this summer. The Weekly Exam Series incorporates 20 weeks of 10-question, 1-hour mini exams that simulate the pace and difficulty of the actual exam. If you don't pass with this tool you'll get it free the following year.
I'm excited to add additional practice to the Weekly Exam Series this year - for no additional cost, you'll be able to take unlimited 1-hour mini exams on-demand. These mini exams are only limited by the total bank of questions, but will offer flexibility and simply far more opportunity to practice questions than available before. This new feature begins in July.
See more about the Weekly Exam Series here.
After having a difficult experience taking the PE Exam several years ago with a lack of great resources, I decided to do something about it and begin providing resources that created a better experience for examinees.
See all the resources (good and bad) I've found on the PE Tools page and free daily practice on the Daily page.
After posting the N^1.85 Water Supply Graph a couple weeks ago, I was asked about creating an SI (International System of Units) version of the same graph for "those living on that side of the world."
I looked it up, and it turns out "that side of the world" is literally everyone except Liberia, Burma, and the United States.
So for those across the pond or literally right next to us that don't use the ol' foot-candles system of measurement, here's the N^1.85 Fire Suppression Supply Graph in metric. Please give it a try and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
If you're relatively new to MeyerFire - welcome! This site and the tools here are created to help you create exceptional fire protection.
I've worked in large companies with over 45 people dedicated fire protection staff and I've worked as a solo practitioner, and what I've found is that regardless of the work environment there is a big need for regular tools that can improve our workflow: tools with better analytics, tools to speed workflow, and tools that allow us to make better decisions.
This site and the tools here are created for one purpose: to help you do exceptional work. They're created for the freelancer, the plan reviewer, the designer lost in the cubicle farm, the woman interrupted in meetings, the rookie, the mechanical who dabbles in fire protection, the intern, the ravenous learner, and the senior.
Fire protection is too important to not do well.
Here's a summary of tools available to date, with brief descriptions.
If you haven't already subscribed or shared this with someone who might be interested, please do. There are big plans for the website with new tools and resources that are already in development. Thanks for being a part of the story.
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