First - last week I put together a draft PDF cheatsheet for fire alarm design in elevators. Lots of great response to that tool. One major flub on my part - I didn't actually link to it. Here's an actual working hyperlink (fingers crossed).
K-Factor & Pressure Versus Area & Density
One of the hand calculations I do frequently when laying out sprinkler systems is comparing the k-factor, minimum pressures, and resulting flow for the sprinkler. It comes up all the time with residential-style, extended coverage, special application, and storage sprinklers.
Many hydraulic calculation programs do this comparison automatically. That being said, it is important to understand and compare the minimum flow from sprinklers for a hydraulic calculation.
Reducing unnecessary flow from a sprinkler reduces the total calculated flow from a system, which has major impacts on pipe sizing for some branch lines, cross mains, feed mains, and even the underground service size.
Driver #1: K-Factor and Minimum Pressure
There are two drivers for the actual minimum flow that must come from a fire sprinkler.
The first driver is the K-Factor and Minimum Pressure. This equation is
Q = k√P
Q = Flow (gpm)
k = Sprinkler k-Factor
P = Pressure (psi)
With a 5.6 k-factor and a minimum pressure of 7.0 psi (as is required by NFPA 13), we get a flow of 5.6 x √7 = 14.8 gpm
There's a wide array of k-factors available on the market, and a wide variety of minimum sprinkler pressures too. Extended coverage, residential, attic, storage, and ESFR all vary in required minimum pressures.
Driver #2: Area and Density (When Using the Density/Area Design Approach)
When reviewing cutsheets for sprinklers it's easy to take a k-factor and minimum pressure and assume that you then know the minimum requirements for a sprinkler and you're done. If you're using design criteria that only uses that approach, then you may actually be done.
However, if you're using the density/area approach of NFPA 13 then you also have to ensure the sprinkler is actually delivering the minimum density for the area its protecting.
It's easy to skip over this step. If you've ever laid out residential-style sprinklers, then you probably already know this.
Residential-style sprinklers can have small k-factors and relatively low minimum pressures to cover a reasonable floor area. However, these sprinklers can be used in NFPA 13, 13R, or NFPA 13D systems. 13R and 13D specifically can allow densities less than 0.10 gpm/sqft. The cutsheets often offer the minimum pressure for a given k-factor and floor area coverage, but the cutsheet may be assuming a 0.05 gpm/sqft density.
When we have higher densities (such as residential-style sprinklers in an NFPA 13 design), we have to consider this second driver for sprinkler flow.
The equation for density/area coverage is also straightforward:
Q = D x A
Q = Flow (gpm)
D = Minimum Density (gpm/sqft)
A = Area Covered by Sprinkler (sqft)
A sprinkler spaced at 15 ft x 15 ft with a minimum design density of 0.10 gpm/sqft requires a flow of 22.5 gpm.
With this, a k-5.6 sprinkler at 7 psi, spaced 15 x 15 feet with a 0.10 gpm/sqft density will actually need to flow 22.5 gpm.
Here's how this scenario looks when graphed:
The red line above represents the hydraulic pressure/flow relationship that a k-5.6 sprinkler offers. As the minimum pressure increases, the flow will increase. Similarly, as the flow needed through the sprinkler increases, the minimum pressure required to deliver that flow also increases.
For this scenario, the actual flow through the sprinkler must be the higher of the two amounts, or 22.5 gpm which will occur at 16.1 psi (see the blue lines above).
This means for a light-hazard, typical sprinkler we're demanding that the pressure at the sprinkler is over double what the code minimum is!
Will this difference break your calculation? No, it won't.
But let's look at another example where these decisions become a little more critical.
Take a Viking VK460 residential sidewall sprinkler. It's a 5.8 k-factor and has varying coverage areas with varying pressure and flow requirements.
Based on a 12 ft x 12 ft spacing, the minimum pressure required under the product data is 7.6 psi.
The Sprinkler-Driven minimum flow becomes Q = k√P = 5.8 x √7.6 = 16.0 gpm.
Assuming an NFPA 13 design, the Density-Area minimum flow becomes Q = 0.10 gpm/sqft x (12 ft x 12 ft) = 14.4 gpm.
In this scenario, the flow is Sprinkler-Driven. The actual flow through the sprinkler is driven by the k-factor and minimum pressure, and not the density/area point.
This same sprinkler, however, at a 16x20 spacing, looks a little different.
Based on a 16 ft x 20 ft spacing, the minimum pressure required under the product data is 20.1 psi.
The Sprinkler-Driven minimum flow becomes Q = k√P = 5.8 x √20.1 = 26.0 gpm.
Assuming an NFPA 13 design, the Density-Area minimum flow becomes Q = 0.10 gpm/sqft x (16 ft x 20 ft) = 32.0 gpm.
The demand through this sprinkler now becomes density-driven, and notice the actual pressure required to achieve this density is now 30.4 psi. If you have a poor water supply then these decisions can begin to really impact your hydraulic calculations.
Do you need to assess whether your sprinklers are driven by the k-factor and pressure or density/area? No - many hydraulic calculation programs cover this already.
These differences to become critical though with sprinkler selection, reducing the system demand, reducing the system pressure, and refining a design to end up with the most efficient system possible as an end result.
This Tool Available Now
If you're a Toolkit user, you can give this new tool a try today. Click here for online access to it.
This tool comparison tool allows different k-factor inputs, minimum pressures, density and areas with immediate graphed comparisons.
This tool will also be available for download with the latest Toolkit release here in a few weeks. More on that to come.
Thank you for reading and have a great, safe week!
Things around here are always busy. The past few weeks have been no exception.
With feedback from some Apple users, field-users, and those without Microsoft Excel - I've heard your pleas!
We now have every single tool from The MeyerFire Toolkit now available online to subscribers! You can see the complete list of tools at www.MeyerFire.com - just hover over the "Tools" list.
Now, you don't need Excel or a Microsoft operating system - access the quick tools you need from anywhere, anytime.
Not a Toolkit subscriber? Join on here. Licenses are now multi-user so you can share these tools with your whole team.
SFPE Atlanta March 10th & 11th
If you're attending SFPE Atlanta's regional conference on March 10th & 11th - let me know! I'll be there for John Frank's daylong session on updates with the Fire Protection PE Exam. He's the longtime leader of SFPE's Online PE Review Course and we'll be doing some collaboration in preparation for the computer-based changes to the PE Exam in 2020.
NFSA Annual Conference April 29th - May 1st
If you'll be in Phoenix for NFSA's National Conference - check us out! I'll be teaming with the voice of the fire sprinkler industry - Fire Sprinkler Podcast's Chris Logan to speak on New Media in Fire Protection.
In Phoenix we'll be dissecting what we've learned while starting up different media in the industry, what projects we're working on now, and what ways we all can capitalize on new opportunities in the media space. That presentation is set for Wednesday April 29th.
Making the Jump - The New Consulting Practice
For all those who have reached out on LinkedIn about my (relatively) recent jump into starting my own design practice - thank you!!
Things have been very busy with a healthy amount of fire sprinkler shop drawing design & consulting work.
If you have interest in following the work I'm doing as part of that endeavour, follow my updates here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/meyerfire/. There's a fresh video on a recent all-BIM sprinkler design.
If we're not yet connected on LinkedIn, consider doing so. It's GREAT to hear from and chat with other passionate people about the fire protection industry and it's something I really enjoy.
As always, thanks & have a great rest of your week!
Awhile back I researched and built a translator for various versions of NFPA 13.
It's built to quickly find where a code section has migrated between different editions of the standard. There's a free version here which connects the 2016 and the 2019 Editions of NFPA 13.
Based on feedback and the positive response to that tool, I've just finished a similar edition translator for all of the published versions of the International Building Code. It covers Chapters 1 through 11, 15 and 30. Here's a quick video of how it works:
If you're interested in giving this a try, you can get it as part of a 30-day trial for the MeyerFire Toolkit here. https://www.meyerfire.com/toolkit-trial.html.
It's been busy around here tinkering with new tools since I went on my own in October of 2019. I am not by nature a programmer, but as the son of two accountants I'm pretty sure Microsoft Excel is just in my blood.
I've gotten lots of positive feedback from users on the Toolkit and I'm happy to announce this week some major improvements aside from the new IBC translator:
1. A La Carte Tools Coming
Some users aren't designers or engineers and would only use one or two tools. I get it. In the next couple weeks I'll be breaking out individual tools and pricing them for less, separately. The first one offered this way is the Water Supply Analysis tool that will be up this week.
2. Instant Activation Codes
One of the biggest frustrations I've had on the development side is with quirky activation code servers. They drive me nuts. Over the past month I've dramatically simplified the process, so that new purchases automatically get clear activation codes exactly 2 minutes after their purchase. Clean and simple and it's working much better than before.
3. Toolkit Going to $195 in February
With over a half-dozen new tools, the price of the Toolkit is going up to $195 starting in February. If you're interested but haven't bought yet, pick up a license now and you'll lock in your $150 subscription.
4. New Licenses Are Multi-Device & Sharable with Coworkers
Lastly, based on the biggest piece of feedback I've gotten, with the $195 price-bump starting in February a single license will allow multiple installs, so that you can use on multiple devices and with members of your company.
If you have a design staff with multiple users, it only makes sense that you're able to use and share files with coworkers.
If you have a single-user license now and want to upgrade, shoot me an email at email@example.com and we'll get the upgrade set up. Should you want to learn more about the Toolkit, you can do so here.
Hope you have a great rest of your week!
Some big news on the MeyerFire front –
With the growth of the community here at meyerfire.com, I’ll be transitioning next week to support this venture full-time and begin my own design practice.
This is a very big and exciting step for me, and I cannot express how thankful I am to have you be a part of the community here. It is because of your support and interest that’s made this possible.
This week’s quick post is a collection of Q&As that I’ve gotten recently that I’m happy to share.
What’s different now?
Two big developments have come through in the last couple months.
You may have noticed the website sponsorships that started in September. There is a good handful of interested organizations that serve the same audience and want to support our efforts at MeyerFire. Sharing their message has helped open up time I can contribute to site resources. I'd encourage you to click sponsor's messages as I both vet and have personal connections with each sponsor organization.
The second big development is still in the works. It involves a major publication with a renowned fire sprinkler organization. I’ll be sure to relay information in time, but for now I’m excited to partner with an expert group and help bring more resources to the industry. This should be a complete volume by the middle of next year.
Will the website change?
Since July I’ve spent about 8 hours a week on the site. That includes developing content, writing for the blog, developing tools, helping Toolkit users, and supporting PE Examinees. This shift to full-time independence will open the potential to increase support for all these things. My hope is that you’ll continue to get better content and more useful tools with every new post.
So this whole website thing is a lead-magnet for your design practice?
Nope. MeyerFire.com will stay and keep the name and continue on where it is.
I’ll continue to design because it’s what I love to do and it keeps me firmly entrenched in the industry’s hot issues. While it will launch this upcoming Monday the 21st, the new website for the design side of things will be www.MeyerFPE.com. My intent is to focus in on only a few specific small-business clients and support them extremely well. It’s also not my intent to hire any employees (see last week’s I’m terrible at management article). Of course business is fluid and change is constant, but that’s my initial intent.
So How Much You Makin’ Off This-Here Website?
When I started writing regularly about two years ago, I had about twenty subscribers. I would guess half of them had my last name. If I looked I would have bet three of them were just different emails my mom used.
Since then (due to your support and sharing posts on LinkedIn & Facebook), the number of subscribers has grown dramatically. Those first few months in 2017 I was over the moon when three new people subscribed on the month. Now, somedays, there will be a dozen or so new interested professionals each day. It’s never about how many people tune in but about the impact of sharing best practices. The growth is well on the up and up and the distribution now approaches that of some of the leading fire protection organizations. You’ve made that possible and I can’t thank you enough for it.
So money - the three revenue sources, if you will, are website sponsorships, PE Exam Prep content, and the Toolkit software package. The site sponsorships have just kicked off in September and have lots of interest. The PE Prep Guide is now technically the bestselling Fire Protection PE Exam book on the market, and there are now over 200 active MeyerFire Toolkit users.
All of this combined still doesn’t make up a full-time income, but the impact that the combined effort is having has been incredibly positive. Not pursuing these in greater capacity would be something I’d otherwise live to regret.
A Few Notes
The transition to full time developer is a big step and a big transition for me and my family. It’s not without a lot of thought, nervousness, and a lot of excitement. Of course this is all really the beginning, but there are several people I’d like to thank just making it to this point.
I’d like to thank the incredible team at SSC Engineering in St. Louis. They have a supportive and sharp group and I am so fortunate to have learned under the best these past few years. If you’re ever in the market for MEP, FP, or Structural design services, I would recommend the crew wholeheartedly.
I’d like to thank some bigtime supporters and mentors for me. Far too many people to name, but those that have really stood out over the years are Mike Auld, Drew Robinson, Adam Hilton, Cindy Gier, Jeff Dunkel, Chris Cornett, Angie Grant, David Stacy, Aaron Johnson, Ed Long, and Mike Lonigro. You all rock.
I'd also like to thank YOU for being a part of this community and being an advocate for better fire protection. I’m excited about what we’re going to build together.
I'm very excited to announce that starting this September we will have a monthly site sponsor.
As you may know, MeyerFire.com was created to help you do great things in fire protection. This site was built to promote the practice and empower professionals in the fire protection community. How? By creating highly-visual, high-quality content and resources to support and connect the people who do fire protection the best. You.
Each month we'll showcase an exclusive sponsor that supports our efforts at MeyerFire. The only difference you might notice is a new a sidebar image to the right on the site and a horizontal banner towards the bottom of emails.
I'm very encouraged that the sponsorships will allow me to invest more time and development in content and resources that ultimately will help you continue to do great things.
Sound like a stretch?
Don't take my word for it. I hope you'll see for yourself later this year what the support of the sponsorships will bring to the site.
In the meantime, please consider supporting our sponsors by clicking on the images and checking out their content starting this September.
If you're interested in sponsoring the site with your campaign, don't hesitate to contact Joe directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Thanks for all of your continued interest and support!
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.
A huge thank you to the nearly 300 respondents to the survey posted a couple weeks ago. I am very appreciative of the feedback provided by so many, and I can promise you I've read every single comment provided by you, and I've already started implementing some changes to the site that were suggested.
I mentioned I'd raffle a Toolkit & free 2018 PE Prep Guide (good as a reference book), and I decided to raffle a couple of each. The winners are:
If you're interested, there were a total of 296 respondents to the survey. 87.5% of readers either specify, approve, or recommend products in the industry.
Some common feedback for improvement include:
I am thrilled with these concepts and look forward to incorporating all of these in greater capacity going forward.
I've heard from a handful of people to be sure to explore topics other than just fire suppression. I agree! There will be plenty more to come.
It only seems appropriate after discussing the fire suppression cheatsheet and the code call cheatsheet in the last few weeks to also compile the latest cheatsheet I have for fire alarm design.
Here's a blank cheatsheet and an example:
If you're already using the Toolkit this is now available for download with today's update. Just log in here to get it.
Along with having all of your design decisions documented for a project (or flagging the open items still left to figure out), perhaps the most important piece is how quickly you're now able to record your notes.
If you don't see the video recording below, click here for a YouTube video of how quick notes can be recorded.
MeyerFire was created to help you shine in fire protection. Know someone who might be interested in these tools or articles? Email a friend with a link today. Thanks for being a part of the effort towards better fire protection!
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Joseph Meyer, PE, is a Fire Protection Engineer in St. Louis, Missouri. See bio on About page.