A few times each month I get questions about various parts of the website. This week I thought I'd introduce myself and the process around here a little more with the most commonly asked questions about the site:
Who Does the Sketches?
Originally when I started the website I did all of the illustrations posted on the blog. I started sketching during our architectural studio courses in college and even still run an online art shop selling minimalist sketches on Etsy.
Starting in late 2017, however, I realized I was able to focus more on blog content if I hired help for the illustrations, which was when I brought in an artisan Diana who is both an architect and an illustrator. She does most of the fantastic illustrations you see around the website now.
An example of one of the sketches by Diana, an illustrator and architect who compiles many of these images.
How are the Illustrations Completed?
The illustrations are simply created using a tablet and Adobe Photoshop.
The typically thick outlines with thinner interiors is fundamentally a method used in architectural renderings that is commonly taught in architecture school. The color function is typically a combination of digital brushes that offer texture to the piece, and the font used in all of these illustrations is actually a custom font I created many years ago based on my handwriting (a far more tedious and difficult process than I ever would have guessed).
How Much & When Do I Work on the Website?
A couple months ago I met a client for lunch who received a blog post via email as I was in the parking lot walking up to meet him. He laughed and asked if I pressed the send button while parking.
Fortunately, the blog content, daily questions, toolkit updates, and just about everything else on this site doesn't have to be posted live. I get up between 5 and 5:30 am every day of the week to write and develop resources until my kids wake up around 6:30. All in all it's roughly 6-8 hours a week to put together what you see here, and certainly not written and sent at 11:00am while I'm working my day job.
Why Do MeyerFire?
First, fire protection is way too important of an industry to take casually and not care about. You didn't get into this field to be a casual observer and neither did I - people in fire protection are regularly far more passionate about the trade than what you'll find in other disciplines like mechanical and electrical engineering. Not a knock on them - but us fire protection folk or a pretty tight-knit and passionate group.
I'm fortunate to have experience working for large and small companies, and I've found that overall the fire protection industry is comprised of many small outfits - contractors, engineers, designers - and one of the best ways I can bring value and positively impact the industry is by connecting smart people and good ideas. That's what this website is all about.
I once heard a presentation on more regulation and oversight will rule out bad fire protection design & installation. I don't think the problem is with regulation - I think it's with education. The more resources and helpful material we can share around the industry the better off we'll all be. As JFK said, "a rising tide raises all boats."
How Long is MeyerFire Going to Continue?
You got it, this site is going to self destruct in August.
Just kidding - I have long-term and sustainable plans to continue writing weekly while continuing PE Prep material as well as developing improvements to the Toolkit and other resources. Being that I've scratched about 5% of my list of future ideas, there's plenty of work still to be done.
Is it Profitable?
There was a local SFPE golf tournament last year where I had the privilege of golfing with a local colleague who had purchased a PE Prep Guide in the prior year and passes the PE Exam. I was excited to meet him in person and he felt the same - however he said he was disappointed that (1) I was younger than he was and (2) I didn't roll up in a Mercedes with how expensive the book was.
Despite the high cost of the PE Prep Guide, most of the profit I use to roll forward and invest into development of other tools. I still do all of the website editing, tool development, writing for the Prep Guide, and blog development, but I hire help for illustrations, industry research, software development, and marketing. For all of the time I put in "blogging" has paid about or a little less than my day job on an hourly basis, but the impact of this endeavour has been far more valuable than just the financials.
Also, despite working with contractors in a land full of Ford F-350s, I drive a Corolla.
Who is Joe Meyer?
I used to say I'm just a guy typing away in his basement in the wee hours of the morning.
Fortunately I got a major promotion a few months ago and now type out of the first floor office. The best part of this story is that this office is also not in my parent's house. I live in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, with my beautiful wife, three kids and a dog. We have a four-year-old, two-year-old, and a four-month old - so as you can imagine our home is very lively.
I first became interested in fire protection engineering while studying architectural engineering at the University of Kansas. A guest speaker came into one of our freshman introductory courses and the industry sounded very appealing - good career prospects, expertise in a niche, and most important fighting to help save lives. I turned that piqued interest into a couple different fire protection internships and later studied under the University of Maryland's Master of Engineering in Fire Protection program.
After school I worked at a large MEP firm in Kansas City, Missouri, with a leading group of 40+ fire protection engineers and designers. I've since moved to run fire protection design for a small 35-person MEP, Structural and Fire Protection firm in St. Louis.
My experience and education to date does not make me an expert in the field. I believe there's something to learn from everyone every single day. For me, this blog and website are about two things - the first is to connect & empower people in the industry so that all of us in the industry benefit, and the second is to chart some of my own journey in trying to understand more about fire protection all the time. Thank you for supporting this effort!
Meetup at the NFPA Conference & Expo
If you're attending NFPA's Conference in San Antonio in two weeks (June 17th-19th), be sure to stop by booth 460 and say hello. Some great colleagues at Engineered Corrosion Solutions (also headquartered in St. Louis) have graciously allowed me to hang out in their booth during the Expo so that I can meet people like you.
Let me know you'll be there by dropping a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or commenting here.
I'm excited to announce a new addition to the Toolkit that has been in development for a long time - the NFPA 13 Edition Translator.
With the major restructuring changes in the 2019 Edition of NFPA 13 - it has been difficult for me to flip straight to the content I'm used to doing. From the feedback I've heard I'm not alone on that learning curve.
As a result, a couple weeks ago I released the first version of the translator, which takes any numerical section from the 2016 or 2019 edition, and returns the matching section from the opposite edition.
Full Tool Now Available
This full version is quite the powerhouse. With over 130 hours of research included, it can now take any numerical section from any edition of NFPA 13 from 1999 through the 2019 edition, and returns the matching section throughout it's history.
A quick search on the edition translator shows the history of the section and where it appears.
Why could this be helpful? If you work across multiple jurisdictions or your local jurisdiction just updated to a new edition of NFPA 13, the shift in organization can be frustrating.
If you use the free versions of NFPA 13 that are supported by NFPA, then this tool could help you quickly navigate equivalent sections.
Probably the most common use I have is finding the back-history of where a section first appeared and where to look for it in past editions. This comes up occasionally for projects when there's disagreement about a particular section of code and searching for the back-history and any clarifications in future editions is very helpful.
If you're a Toolkit subscriber, you can download the latest version of the Toolkit, including this edition translator, here.
I've made it easier to download updates for Toolkit users. You can access the latest version and quickly download it at www.meyerfire.com/download. No sign in required.
Find this interesting? Consider sending to a friend or colleague who might find it helpful.
It's always a bit of a wild ride between March and May around here publishing the new edition of the PE Prep Guide. Each year I go through all of the prior year's feedback, make the updates I want, and then wait for the official SFPE list of required references to make any changes and publish.
Good & Bad News
The good news is for 2019 that the books are here a whole month earlier than I was anticipating - thanks to SFPE's early posting of the 2019 required reference list in early April. If you order a copy with our current sale, we'll get it headed your way in less than 24 hours.
The bad news is that SFPE has also just revised the required reference list again just last week, well after their usual April posting and also after I sent the 2019 edition to the publisher. I guess this isn't really bad news at the latest update just took NFPA 25 from the 2014 edition to the 2014 OR 2017 edition, and NFPA 92 from the 2012 edition to the 2012 OR 2015 edition.
The 2019 Edition is now the 4th and largest edition of the PE Prep Guide.
I don't know for sure, but I suspect that this change was based on recent feedback SFPE gathered about introducing older standards to the exam than what they've previously used. I'm guessing it was in good faith to not force examinees to go hunt down older versions of these standards while not materially affecting this exam.
Regardless, this week I was happy to receive the largest shipment of books we've ever had (a FedEx Freight semi-truck dropped off a 480 pound pallet of books at our home Thursday) and we've already shipped over three dozen books in the last 24 hours.
An annual tradition around here is pre-packaging the shipment of books as they come in for quick turn-arounds. This year we received our largest shipment to date - a nearly 500 pound pallet of hardcover books.
PE Guide Growth
If you're in the hunt for the PE Exam this year, you might consider getting a copy of the PE Prep Guide. Last year over 2 out of every 3 examinee had the 2018 edition in hand, and many of the last 1/3rd had prior editions of the guide. It's quickly becoming the go-to resource for the Fire Protection PE Exam and is well beyond what I could ever have hoped would happen when I put the first guide together in 2016.
Weekly Exam Prep Series
If you already have the 2018 Edition, you might consider the Weekly Exam Prep Series. It's a 20-week set of mini-exams that simulate the pace and difficulty of the actual PE Exam, with a bank of on-demand questions as well.
For the numbers we're still gathering from last year's users of the Weekly Exam Series, we're having tremendous success with those who are taking the exam for the 2nd or 3rd time with a pass rate double the average of all repeat examinees. Check it out especially if you're a repeat examinee.
The feedback and growth for the Weekly Exam Series has also been great - there's already as many people signed up for this year as we did all of 2018.
Thank you for the feedback and interest so far - I can't wait to get these books out to everyone and get the summer of study rolling. Any questions/concerns - I'm always here at email@example.com.
There was a webinar a couple weeks ago on the storage occupancy chapters of NFPA 13, given by David Hague, Principal Engineer with NFPA. It was a great overview of updates to storage protection based on research by NFPA.
Changes to NFPA 13 - 2019 Edition
One of the interesting topics he brought up was the major change with the 2019 Edition of NFPA 13 - the re-organization of the entire standard.
The changes for 2019 Edition is intended to better assist casual or infrequent users of the standard.
For many of us that are very used to the traditional structure of the book, this major change feels awkward if not frustrating as our go-to sections are scattered in new areas.
That being said, I like the concepts behind the re-organization and I appreciate the committee's proactivity in making such a huge change happen for the benefit of the user - even if it's a disruption to those who use the standard all the time. Like David said in the webinar, I'm confident I'll appreciate the new layout in time with more use.
Adapting to the Updates with the 2016-2019 Edition Translator
For those that are still struggling with the changes like myself, I created a quick tool to bounce back and forth between the 2016 and 2019 editions of NFPA 13.
Just enter any code section below, and it'll then kick back the matching section from the other edition. It's a two-way tool so it also works by searching from the 2019 as well.
New Full-Version Next Week
I'm close to finishing an expanded tool as well, where you can lookup any section number and get back matching sections from the 1999, 2002, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2019 editions.
This expanded tool will debut in a Toolkit update next week. As you can imagine, this took a ton of research and I'm very excited that it is all finally wrapping up for your use.
Don't see the 2016-2019 tool below? Click here to see it.
Have a great rest of your week!
Following the interest and popularity of the ceiling-mounted obstructions tool, I've been working on some new tools that cover other obstruction situations which we often encounter. This week's post is a quick demo of the progress for one of these obstruction situations, which is the soffit against a wall condition.
One way NFPA 13 addresses soffits is by shifting a sprinkler away from the wall, which allows water from the sprinkler to throw below the soffit. With only two input values this tool will quickly determine the horizontal distance a sprinkler needs to be located away from a soffit in order to meet NFPA 13 Figure 184.108.40.206.2(b) (2016 Edition).
Give this demo tool a quick try and comment below with any concepts you'd like to see added to this tool or the site. Thanks in advance!
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Joseph Meyer, PE, owns/operates his own Fire Protection Engineering practice in St. Louis, Missouri. See bio on About page.