One of the most-requested tool features was not technical - we wanted color! I'm happy to say that with today's new updated release of the MeyerFire Toolkit we now have just that - different color options to match your company's look:
It sounds incredibly simple, but this one took a little while to work out the kinks. At least we rocked out to 90's jock jams while doing the updates, which may or may not have influenced the bright color choices.
To get this update, download the latest version of the Toolkit here: www.meyerfire.com/download.
If you aren't a Toolkit user, you can get a copy here - www.meyerfire.com/toolkit or a free 30-day trial here.
Thanks & have a great week!
Quick but big post today - we've just completed our most-requested tool to date - I'm happy to announce the System Estimator.
We've taken the Remote Area Analyzer (free online, here), added in hose allowances, main losses, elevation losses, riser details, and underground for an estimator tool that allows k-factor, spacing, density, system type, etc with updated system pressure and flow demands, all in real-time!
Check out a very rough video snapshot of real-time pressure and flow updates here:
If you're a toolkit subscriber - great! Get the new tool right now by clicking the download link below:
If you're not a Toolkit user, grab a free trial here: https://www.meyerfire.com/toolkit-trial.html. If you've signed up and don't get an automatic email with your trial activation code, shoot me a quick one at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get you set up with the 30-day trial.
Have you ever needed to do a quick estimate for a job, and not had a couple spare hours to lay out and calculate a system?
Even for a very basic remote area, laying out sprinklers & pipe, adding fitting, flow, control valve, and backflow losses, a source, and then hydraulically calculating is smoothly - easily can take an hour or more. Now take that same design and change it to a dry system, or at a different density. If you're like me, tweaking sprinkler spacing, k-factors, sprinkler heights, remote area sizes, and c-factors alone can take significant iteration just to get an idea of pressure & flow demand.
With this new estimator you can adjust all of those items in one-click, and see the immediate impact of each decision. It's built for estimators, but it can be a very helpful tool for new designers & engineers to quickly grasp design decisions well before a system has to be completely laid out and detailed.
Any feedback, let me know! As always, thanks for reading & have a great rest of your week.
What a weird year for 2020.
Last year I thought this would be somewhat of a wild year for Fire Protection PE Prep - with the major computer-based changes, references changes, and question styling changes. That prediction ended up being too modest as we've had a total of 12 changes to the exam references (either removing, adding, or changing year editions) that shook up the prep space.
Yet, that of course was hardly the biggest shuffle this year. For the first time, the Fire Protection PE Exam is getting a second day in January (January 12th, 2021) due to limited capacities (re: Covid) in the testing centers on the original October 22nd date.
For those who are preparing for the exam and are in the PE Prep Series, all of the access for those exams are now extended through January 2021.
Thoughts on 2020 Prep Season
If you know someone taking the exam this year (...or in January), send them some flowers or ice cream or chocolate... if they're like many I've spoken with they probably feel like guinea pigs with all the changes, plus the uncertainty of actually being able to take the test, all on top of the normal uncertainty of whether all the preparation over the summer has been enough. That's rough.
Around here there's been so many changes due to the exam. The Prep Series was pretty much overhauled, as was the 2020 PE Prep Guide. Just this year over 150 questions were written or re-written to match the new exam specifications.
Along with those overhauls comes the pain of errors in those questions. I've been thankful for the loads of input and feedback since I first wrote the guide in 2016. Each year up until now the number of errors and tweaks found in the books has gone down... up until the 2020 edition. It's discouraging on my end when we find errors in the material, but that's nothing compared to the frustration for an examinee that doesn't have reliable content. My goal when I started the Prep Guide was to continually improve it year over year, and try to be as open and transparent as possible when it comes to getting the material right.
If you have a Prep Guide and haven't seen it yet, I've posted errata and have made updates to it throughout the year. It's located here: www.meyerfire.com/errata
I very much appreciate the feedback from examinees, especially with so many changes to the guide and online content this year.
Next Year & Continuing the PE Prep
Helping with PE Prep materials has been extremely rewarding for me. I saw a positive review online the other day that said the value of the materials is well beyond the cost. The review mentioned they hope I don't raise prices to match other content out there...
I got a good laugh and am very happy to report that I have no intent to raise prices for future years.
The whole goal here from getting into PE Prep a few years ago was to be sure that there is quality, affordable content for Fire Protection examinees. It was extremely frustrating to me when I took the exam that the materials were so expensive and that there just wasn't a lot of great content at the time. My whole goal here it to try and mend that gap with helpful material that is reasonably priced. I certainly hope that's the case now and the case going forward.
Frequently Asked Questions on Scoring Correlations
I've gotten maybe half a dozen questions asking about how close question difficulty comes into play, and how a score on a MeyerFire exam compares to scores on the actual PE Exam.
There's a ton to discuss here, but I'll try and pick off a few key points. First, is that with the data I've compiled, the average score for an examinee across the 20-weeks of the PE Prep Series is typically close to the raw score on the actual PE Exam. Meaning - if someone has averaged a 7.5 out of 10 on the PE Prep Series questions, they tend to score roughly 75% on the actual exam.
Historically I've connected these points from examinees who have reported their scores back and matched it up with the different data points taken in the PE Prep Series.
In general, exam day will feel closer to a new PE Prep Series exam or the full-length exam in the Prep Guide than it will to the 4-hour review exam or the 8.5-hour review exam in the Prep Series. In both of those longer online exams, the questions are review-only and you've already seen content that is the same or similar. There's a noticeable boost to your score on those review exams that aren't reflected in the PE Exam.
Also, just because we typically see a matching range on average Prep Series scores to the actual exam doesn't mean that it is always the case. There are always exceptions here both ways (people scoring much higher than the Prep Series, and people scoring lower).
All that to say - regardless of how you've tested so far - don't be discouraged by your scores. Go into exam day with confidence that you're going to give it your best effort and just see what happens from there.
Oh, where has Joe been for the last few months? Other than question writing and posts on the Daily Forum page - I've been working on an awesome project that has just debuted - if you haven't seen it check it out here.
My hope in the coming weeks as the PE prep settles down is to hop right back in and continue to work on some new tools and tool improvements around the website going forward.
Hope you and yours are safe and healthy and that you have a great week.
Awhile back I mentioned there were some big projects in the works around here. This has been Number 1 on my list for over a year now.
Last summer I threw out an idea that took hold, and since last November I've been thrilled to be a part of a project that I think will be a major help for industry professionals.
The National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) has published informal opinions on everything fire sprinklers for longer than I've been alive. Their Expert of the Day program answers real questions to the 'gray' areas of code with practical advice from leading industry experts.
While these opinions have been collected and published monthly for decades, up until now they've never been assembled, organized, and published into a single resource.
I'm thrilled to announce that this collection of expertise is now complete; the NFSA Expert of the Day Handbook is a two-volume, hardcover set of over 1,300 pages covering nearly 2,000 questions on over 585 topics relevant to fire sprinkler systems, standpipes, water supplies, inspection, testing, maintenance, codes and standards.
Why am I so thrilled about it? I had the pleasure to work with NFSA by collecting, converting, and organizing all the expert inputs into these volumes. This was a concept I really wanted to see happen - and after sharing the idea of compiling the years of content to NFSA they were happy to fold me into the team on this project.
It's now available for pre-sale with shipments starting in just a few weeks (late August / early September).
If you are a sprinkler designer, engineer, inspector, installer, plan reviewer, code authority, or work in and around the fire sprinkler industry, then this handbook was built for you.
Just in the eight months of reading and compiling the information I saved days of code research (thousands of dollars in billable hours) by having quick access to these expert opinions. Just as it is part of the mission of this site, I am wholeheartedly excited to see how these handbooks help promote best practices and share expertise with the industry.
Check out more about this two-volume 1,300 page set and get a copy today.
Questions? Comments? Shoot me a line at email@example.com.
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.
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.
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!
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com 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!
A couple weeks ago I sent a sprinkler obstructions cheatsheet for the options with standard spray sprinklers and ceiling-mounted obstructions where the sprinkler cannot throw over the obstruction.
Thanks to some great suggestions, I've now incorporated some visuals that might help. As always, thanks for the feedback! You can download the updated cheatsheet here:
A New, Free, Fire Protection App
In case you missed it last week - there's a new free fire protection app on the market.
It's free and was developed by Michael Swahn and the helpful engineers over at Sebench Engineering out of Atlanta. It's now live on both Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Here's links to get it:
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=al.pragmatic.sebench.android
The app has quick-calculations for Fire Pump Tests, Hydrant Flows, Equivalent K-Factors, Flow/K-Factor/Pressure Calculations, and Friction Loss. Download it today with the links above.
NFSA Expert of the Day Handbook Coming Summer 2020
One of the major projects I've been working on since last fall is development of the National Fire Sprinkler Association's Expert of the Day Handbook. It is a two-volume hardcover compilation of thousands of informal interpretations by NFSA's Experts, spanning 2004 through 2018.
The set will be available through NFSA later this summer (likely by July). I'm thrilled to be a part of compiling these in a searchable, organized manner that could very well be the go-to resource for suppression design, inspection & testing outside of the standards themselves. There will be plenty more on this as the book becomes available for sale, but wanted to share a little of the good news on this exciting undertaking.
Thanks & I hope you have a safe and great rest of your 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.