I recently had the joy of recording a podcast episode with the Fire Protection Podcast. Host Drew Slocum and I talked about writing on technical topics, digital products, designing in Revit, my backstory of getting started online, and more. Check it out here and subscribe to the Fire Protection Podcast by clicking "Subscribe" below.
I'm taking a few weeks this summer to spend time in tool development and get some longer-term projects moving. Look forward to posting new articles in mid August! If you want to catch up, you can always reach me at email@example.com or subscribe for updates when they're posted here.
Determining the correct height of a fire sprinkler relative to structure and ceilings or roofs is not typically a difficult task. Yet, the more I explored the basic premise the more I realized how different the needs for each sprinkler type are.
This week I've been working on a cheatsheet for fire sprinkler deflector heights. It's a flowchart that helps direct the sprinkler height and code reference based on the type of sprinkler. Click here to download a PDF copy.
If you find cheatsheets like these helpful, consider subscribing to free tools like these here.
Take a look and let me know what you think. Thanks & have a great week!
If you are taking the Fire Protection PE Exam this year - good news. I've partnered with Chris Campbell at the Building Code Blog to help you pass the exam with the PE Roadmap, and he's extended the sale through tomorrow, July 10th.
It's a focused study plan with schedule, reading references, locations for practice content, and more analytics to help you study more effectively.
Chris has extended the sale through today - check it out all the details here.
The value of critical thinking could probably never be understated in our industry.
I’ve found that many of the sharpest minds and best leaders I’ve encountered in fire protection are avid readers and relentless learners. Reading regularly is an incredibly valuable tool to broaden our perspective and grow our own limits.
This week I’m taking a step aside from the technical content a putting up a summer reading list for books I’ve found interesting and helpful for professionals in our arena.
#1 Talking to Strangers
Accomplished author Malcolm Gladwell offers an extremely timely perspective of our natural tendency to overestimate our ability to judge others and underestimate our own ability to be understood. Published just in Fall 2019 this book explores major storylines of the last few years and breaks down the misunderstandings we carry when talking to strangers.
This is a powerful and timely read, especially after the events of the past couple months. | Link
#2 The Future is Faster Than You Think
If you’ve followed some of the prior book summaries I’ve written you know that the advancements we have coming our way in the near future is something I take great interest in. This book is a continuation of my favorite book of all time (next), by Peter Diamandis.
Every innovation we’ve achieved has been from a mixing of ideas that are at the cusp of the technology at any given time. We have witnessed more technological advancement in the last one hundred years than our entire history before it.
While we naturally tend to think the present will continue into the future (without major innovation) for the next decades, our history is saying the opposite; the time gap between major innovation has shortened (think major disruptions like internet and cell phones). Due to “convergence” of a wide variety of innovations in transport, medicine, AI, and a host of other developments, these time gaps are getting shorter. If our history has shown us anything, its that the pace of change is increasing and the near future will see major advancements that will reshape how we view the world. | Link
#3 Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think
I’ve written on this one before, but I continue to circle back to it and never finish the book without a sense of hope for the direction our world is heading.
If you follow the nightly news its easy to see that the world is shattered and on the verge of complete collapse… except that’s a microview.
Stepping back and looking at trends across history, its clear that we’re in store for a better, cleaner healthier future that is backed by data. A phenomenal read. | Link
#4 Design is a Job
This is a surprisingly brash and straightforward book of guidance on how to market, sell and support a design-related business.
While the author is in the programming and graphic design industry, so much of the discussion in this book applies directly to the architectural/engineering space.
A very interesting and refreshing read about the nuances of working in a design-related field. | Link
#5 Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World
This is the first time I’ll mention it, but it won’t be the last. The long-term vision for going starting this website and going independent is to try and make the world a little better each day. Water doesn’t just fight fires, it’s the single most important need we have as humans. This book takes a very personal transformative story of a nightclub promoter turned major nonprofit co-founder. The more interesting and encouraging part of the story is about the positive impact that providing clean water to the developing world does. The long-term MeyerFire vision is pointed directly at the most fundamental need we have globally and we’re saving towards some exciting goals on this front. More to come, but as for the book it’s an impact read. | Link
Those are five of my most impactful reads recently. What have you read that you'd recommend? Comment here.
I hope you are having a great week.
This week is a 2020 update to a popular post from 2016 with a free PDF cheatsheet. It's usefully for novice designers or experienced inspectors, with clear code references and purposes of each of the components that go into a floor control assembly serving a fire sprinkler system.
A breakout of each of the components that go into a fire sprinkler floor control assembly.
If you find any of these tools helpful, consider sharing with a friend or colleague and nudge them to subscribe for more tools and tips like this here: www.meyerfire.com/subscribe. Thanks in advance!
Last week I introduced a Remote Area Analyzer that evaluates remote area size and shape.
This week could possibly be the biggest and best expansion of any tool created thus far. I'm thrilled to present a beta version of our Sprinkler Estimator tool.
With a few default adjustments, you can quickly get a remote area's pressure and flow demand, remote area shape, and have a live schematic of the calculation that updates without a need for "re-running" the calculation.
For a long time now I've wanted a tool where I could quickly estimate pipe sizes and a remote area's demands before I started laying out the system so that I could be as efficient in my design workflow as possible. What typically takes me 30 minutes to a couple hours can now be gathered in less than 30 seconds.
Another fun application? Want to see what effect k-factors have on your calculation? What about long sprigs? Or what about pipe schedule changes? Wet versus dry systems? What about a consistent branch size versus changing pipe diameters? With this tool you can adjust parameters with just a click and see the live impact it has on your calculation.
I'm really not trying to hard sell this one, I've just had my morning coffee and I'm thrilled to have you give it a try. It's been something I've thought about and developed piece by piece for a couple years now.
The best way to experience it is with the downloadable version of the Toolkit. You can get a free 30-day trial of that here, or download the latest full version here. The downloadable version has a split-screen that shows the live preview and live calculated results while also allowing you to adjust parameters... no scrolling required.
Click here to give it a try on our cloud version, and shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any feedback or suggestions.
Thanks and I hope you have a great week!
When I initially set up a hydraulic calculation for a tree-style sprinkler system, there are a few key points I have to consider. All of these points today and the tool are specifically for tree systems (not gridded).
First, we need to determine what the remote area actually is. In NFPA 13, for instance, there are multiple adjustments (quick-response sprinklers, dry systems, sloped systems, high-temperature, etc.). Even if we start with a 1,500 sqft remote area, it could look a lot different after multiple adjustments.
Second, we need to determine the minimum length of the remote area along a branch line. This is a relatively straightforward at 1.2 x √ (remote area size), but it's still another hand-calculation that needs to take place.
We then round up to determine the sprinklers along the first branch line, then expand by branch lines to figure out how many sprinklers are actually in a calculation.
The tool I'm introducing today (which is also now available on the Toolkit) is a schematic-level remote area analyzer that will apply multiple adjustments and quickly estimate the important parameters associated with a remote area.
With only a few quick inputs, you'll see an initial remote area laid out with a live schematic of your situation. Click either of the images below to give it a try:
A new remote-area analysis tool which incorporates adjustments and gives a live schematic layout. See it here.
If you already have the toolkit, you can download this and three other recently added tools in today's Toolkit update here. If you're interested in giving this tool a try, check it out here. I'll have it up without any login credentials for a couple months.
In time, I'm looking forward to expanding this tool to have some powerful estimating abilities.
Any suggestions, tips or feedback? Post a comment or shoot me an email at email@example.com.
A Hurting World at Large
Just like I don't ask hollywood to be my moral compass, you don't come here for my my personal opinions. I get it. That said there has been a tremendous amount of unrest here locally, nationally, and worldwide this past week.
I think there's a major feeling that our collective perspective has to improve. I want to do better and be part of a better future for everyone. I want you to know that whoever you are and wherever you are, I very much care about you and your well being. You have tremendous value. Hope you and yours are safe, healthy, and doing well.
Thanks & I hope you have a great week.
Did you know there are over 1,500 variations of sprinkler models which are actively on the market today?
Around three years ago we began development on one of the largest research projects we've ever undertaken - organization of all the fire sprinklers available on the market today. It took several hundreds of hours to finely comb through all the k-factors, pressure listings, spacing distances, model numbers, responses, and links to websites and product data.
The Comprehensive Fire Sprinkler Database
In late 2018, we finally released it - a comprehensive Fire Sprinkler Database. With it you can search by SIN, k-factor, type, spacing distances.... most any parameter you need to in order to find the sprinkler that's the best fit for your design.
The introductory video to it is here (forgive the terrible voice narrator... it was me): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsLPg4GKaCU
Updates from This Week
Just this week we've updated the database to include recent releases for new sprinkler models from Tyco, Viking, and Reliable, including new window sprinklers, concealed sprinkler options, MRI sprinklers, institutional sprinklers, and corridor sprinklers.
Use It Today
If you haven't checked it out - here's an opportunity to do so. I've opened it up for everyone just for the next couple weeks. Just go to this link - www.meyerfire.com/sprinklerdatabase - and login using firstname.lastname@example.org as the username and sprinklerdatabase as the password if you're not already a Toolkit subscriber.
The Fire Sprinkler Database is the most current and comprehensive database of available fire sprinklers across all manufacturers we know about. Click the image to login and try it out.
For those in the inspection department - it's been asked how we can take this to the next level.
Can we get obsolete and recalled sprinklers into the database as well, so that we can quickly search to find information on recalls? That answer is yes, but I need your help. I'm not regularly involved in inspections, but I know many of you are.
If you have a good understanding of where all the various manufacturers recall information (old and current companies) and how I could best showcase that material, please reach out to me at email@example.com. I'd be happy to get some input on how I can tackle this next phase of the database and make it that much more useful for us all.
Thanks & have a great week!
Another summer on its way, and another year of feedback says that the Fire Protection PE (Principles and Practices of Engineering) Exam ranks as one of the toughest disciplines based on pass rate.
Here are some figures for first-time examinees from the Fall of 2019:
And here's what we saw for repeat examinees:
Why So Tough?
Why is the Fire Protection PE a tough one to crack? Most people say its the variety of subjects that the exam covers. While many might think of "sprinkler systems" when they think "fire protection", the industry isn't limited to just NFPA 13.
The representative exam covers fire dynamics, water-based suppression, special hazards, detection & alarm, smoke control systems, explosion protection and prevention, passive building systems, means of egress, and human behavior.
If you're like me, your day job might not cover the wide breadth that the fire protection industry represents. Studying for the exam usually involves a multi-month process of learning parts of the trade with otherwise little to no experience in it. I can say firsthand, it's tough!
What's New in 2020?
This is a big year for the Fire Protection PE Exam. The long-awaited transition to computer-based testing has shaken up the exam with plenty of new offerings, new standards, new questions styles, and stirred up the prep-community too.
I'll start with the exam first - this fall will mark the first Fire Protection PE Exam that's computer-based. They'll be given on a single-day this fall (October 22, 2020) at Pearson-Vue test centers.
The exam is moving from an 8-hour, 80-question, multiple-choice only question style to an 8.5-hour, 85-question, varied question style exam.
Why the change? The exam will start to feature "alternative item type" questions that have shown to better test knowledge than the multiple-choice style questions. The can consist of multiple-correct answer questions, point and click, sequencing, drag and drop, or fill in the blank style answers.
While there isn't an expectation that all the exam questions will be this style, it'll be introduced for the first time this fall and should become more prevalent in future exams going forward.
Gone are the days of lugging 75-pound suitcases full of hardcover books into the exam room. I say definitively say 75-pounds, because that was the limit the airline accepted when I took the exam.
The new exam features ready-access to PDF versions of multiple standards, and a new NCEES supplied reference manual. Here are the changes across the board, by year:
In 2020, we're seeing a total of eleven references for the exam. This now consists of ten different standards, but pulls out the two largest volumes with the SFPE and NFPA Handbooks from the exam.
While this is opposite of the direction we've been told the exam would take for a long time, it will do a good job of reducing the sheer quantity of content that's referenced by the exam into more practical deliverables.
New 2020 Prep Guide & PE Prep Series
The MeyerFire PE Prep Guide is getting an overhaul, as it does most years, to update to the latest exam standards. This year is taking some extra work and we're still looking to ship out by the end of May. The 2020 Prep Guide incorporates all the standard changes and has some new question styles, too.
Each year is a bit of a writer's jam between when the exam standards are published and when I get the 2020 PE Prep Guide out for printing. This year has been especially busy and I sincerely appreciate the patience while I get this edition updated so that it's helpful for you, the user. If you've pre-ordered a copy and are dying to get started studying, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll see if I can set you up with materials in the interim. Thanks again for your patience.
The PE Prep Series will start the first week of June. It's our most adaptive and robust series of questions we have - the difficulty is closely monitored to help mirror the actual exam, all of the questions are timed, it's entirely computer-based, and it incorporates the question styles of the exam itself. Learn more about that here.
New PE Roadmap
The prep-space is updating as well. One of the frequent requests I've gotten the past few years is about studying - what should I study? When should I study? Am I on the right track? How do I keep myself accountable?
In the past there's only been a study course or two to help with this.
I'm now proud to say there is another option for those looking to go beyond the PE Prep Guide & online questions, but who might not be a good fit for a full-fledged course. It's the PE Roadmap by Chris Campbell. He's an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Maryland, a Senior Fire Protection Engineer, the writer at the Building Code Blog, and a great guy.
With the PE Roadmap, he's building on the book and the online questions I've written with his own guidance on when & how to study with study schedules, guidance on study content, and one-on-one personal check-in calls. Check the full offering here: www.buildingcode.blog/pe-roadmap
Thanks & have a great week!
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Joseph Meyer, PE, owns/operates his own Fire Protection Engineering practice in St. Louis, Missouri. See bio on About page.