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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Should it be called "preparing" or "prepping" for the PE (Principles and Practice of Engineering) Exam?
If you've studied for the exam and spent hours and hours covering thousands of pages of material - it just might feel more like "prepping" for doomsday more than anything else. The required references for 2019 alone now cover 9 different books, 12 volumes and over 6,500 pages.
This week I'm covering a review of the 2018 exam and some updates to 2019 for the Fire Protection PE Exam.
Discouraging 2018 Results
The overall results from all 241 examinees came in December, and the results were not great.
Pass rates for first-time examinees fell to 56%, the lowest this decade. The pass rate for repeat takers also fell to 28%, the lowest rate since 2015. These results are published annually by NCEES.
4th Toughest Exam for First-Timers
We once again maintain a distinction for having one of the most difficult exams to pass. The 56% pass rate for first time examinees ranks 4th toughest of the 24 different PE disciplines, behind only software, civil (construction), and power systems.
The overall pass rate (first-time and repeat takers combined) isn't much better with fire protection having the 7th most difficult pass rate.
On a related note one of the adjacent fields where some people working in fire protection get their PE is mechanical and architectural. Architectural used to have an overall pass rate above 80%, but that appears to no longer be the case. The Mechanical PE on Thermal & Fluid Systems has an overall pass rate of 60%, higher than fire protection but not by a large degree.
Raw Cut Score about 70%
With the popularity of the Weekly Exam Series (a 20-week series of mini-exams for Fire Protection PE examinees), I've gathered significantly better analytics on the difficulty of the actual exam and how well studying translates to passing the exam.
We're now able to better estimate the raw cut score (the percentage of questions correct to pass the exam), and how the difficulty of the Weekly Exams compares to the actual exam.
From the 2018 exam, we've estimated an overall raw cut score of 69-70%.
MeyerFire User Pass Rates
The statistic I love and get asked about more than anything is what the pass rates are for people buying the PE Prep Guide and what the pass rates are for people doing the Weekly Exams.
In short, it is very difficult to calculate this value now that the Prep Guide has become so popular. Consider this - on the 2018 exam over 2 out of every 3 examinees had the 2018 edition in their hand when they took the exam. Many who didn't have the 2018 edition brought a copy of the 2017.
In concept, if nearly everyone has a copy of the book on the actual exam, then it becomes more of a prerequisite to taking the exam than it does a boost only to the person using it. Where I have found differentiation, though, is between examinees who get a copy, study early, and study thoroughly. Somewhat obviously - the best prepared tend to do better on the actual exam.
As for pass rates of the Weekly Exam - I'm trying hard to get those exact values. If you used the Weekly Exam Series in 2018, I would be very grateful to hear from you and how the test went.
While I've reached out to everyone, I still haven't heard from the following users: Pepe Sylvia, GingerSnap, RoundONE, JT, Ginger, AB, JDB Falcon, onebadshark, MAXCRYPT, Senior, Old Guy, Ryan, Tip Top, na, dot dot dot, and yeass. [if you can't tell, we have a lot of fun on the Weekly Exam Series]
If you're one of these people, please shoot me an email at email@example.com. Your input helps craft future editions and support success for others going forward.
A Checklist of Resources
Are you planning to take the 2019 exam? If so, you'll want to see our list of every resource we know to be available to you. The list includes formula sheets, practice exams, reference materials, Prep Books, Study Communities, and Courses. It's all here: https://www.meyerfire.com/pe-tools.html
Changes to the 2019 PE Exam
Once again the exam writers can't help but make tweaks between each edition of the PE Exam. While published articles as old as five years ago suggested a narrowing of required references down to just the NFPA and SFPE handbooks, the actual exam references have done anything but condense.
For 2019, there's a few notable changes from the 2018 Exam (as published by SFPE):
Here's the year to year changes, with edition, additions or subtracted changes highlighted.
The 2019 PE Prep Guide Release
Fortunately this year, SFPE released the required references earlier than in years past. As a result the 2019 PE Prep Guide, which usually would ship in June, will ship earlier. At this time I'm estimating a mid-may shipment of these editions for anyone who pre-orders a copy. Of course if you'd rather get a copy in your hands now, we still have the 2018 edition available.
Weekly Exam Prep Series
Back for a third year the Weekly Exam Prep Series will kick off June 3rd. If you're looking to get as much regular practice as is available anywhere in a fun exam-simulated pace, then this is for you. See where you rank and get access to over 400 questions with the Weekly Exams. Learn more about the Weekly Exam Prep Series here.
2019 vs. 2020 Exam
Big changes are ahead for the 2020 exam. Not only will the Fire Protection PE Exam transition to a computer-based exam, but the legacy of bringing in volumes and volumes of references will go away as well. As we understand it today, there will be a single, condensed reference book with formulas and charts that can be used on the exam - and that's it. It'll be a different delivery, different problem types, and a different reference.
It'll be a big change and without a doubt make 2020 examinees feel like guinea pigs in the sense of trying out something new to everyone involved (examinees, the exam writers, and prep material producers). That could be intimidating or could be an opportunity depending upon how you look at it.
Know someone interested in taking the PE Exam? Feel free to send them this article today.
Are you "prepping" for the 2019 PE Exam? Here's some related past articles on the topic:
A 2018 PE Exam Summer in Review
Updates for the 2018 Fire Protection PE Exam
Thoughts on the 2017 PE Prep Season
5 Tips to Crush P.E. Exam Prep
Fire P.E. Exam Ranked 3rd Toughest, 6th Overall
Collaborate with Others Studying for the PE Exam
Determining fire flow can be a tricky subject. This week I'm breaking down one common method of determining fire flow requirements and hopefully exposing some myths about the process.
Not an Exact Science
First, determining the exact amount of water required to manually suppress a fire is dependent upon so many variables. The amount of water used could depend on the building size, hazard, outdoor conditions, speed of fire growth, fire department response time, whether the building is protected by sprinklers, and on and on.
The methods used to calculate fire flow are different methods at estimating the amount of water required to manually suppress a fire. It is not an exact science.
What is Fire Flow?
I'll start by what fire flow is not. Fire Flow is not the volume of water required for the fire sprinkler system. I couldn't count the number of projects where Fire Flow has been assumed to be sprinkler-related.
Fire Flow is formally defined as the "flow rate of a water supply, measured at 20 psi (138 kPa), that is available for fire fighting." (IFC 200-2018 Appendix B Section B102)
Fire flow is used to determine the quality of a water supply to an area. It's used as an aid to determine pipe size and arrangements to delivery water to a specific area.
Fire Flow is important for emergency response at it is the total capacity of the system that the fire department has available for use in response to a fire.
How Is Required Fire Flow Determined?
In short - it depends.
There are many methods for determining fire flow. The most common cited in US circles include the Insurance Services Office (ISO) Method, Iowa State Method, and the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Method. At least a dozen other methods exist (for more on these, the Fire Protection Research Foundation provides great analysis in Evaluation of Fire Flow Methodologies research paper).
The International Fire Code (IFC) offers Appendix material that provides guidance for determining the required fire flow, which is based on the ISO Method. It is not a mandated code requirement unless a jurisdiction adopts the Appendix.
Many jurisdictions I've worked with do not have an ordinance that adopts the appendix, but when asked they are typically open to using the IFC Appendix B method of determining fire flow. The International Fire Code, which is widely adopted in the US, only requires that an approved water supply "capable of supplying the required fire flow" be provided to buildings.
This process will be explored in more detail here.
1. Determine Baseline Fire Flow
The first step in this overall determination of water supply to a site is to determine the required fire flow.
Using the IFC Method, Appendix B has a reference table that stipulates a minimum fire flow and flow duration based upon building size and construction type (2000-2012 Table B105.1, 2015-2018 Table B105.1(2)).
2. Reductions & Increases
Once a baseline value for flow and duration is taken from the table, it can be reduced based on the presence of sprinkler system.
Section B105 details the adjustments that are available for buildings with a sprinkler system. A reduction of up to 75% can be permitted for buildings with a fire sprinkler system.
It's important to note that up through the 2012 edition of the International Fire Code, a reduction of fire flow had to be approved, meaning the AHJ must agree on the reduction. This may not make a difference if a jurisdiction hasn't adopted the appendix and the entire calculation has to be approved anyways, but in the case where Appendix B is adopted and you're under IFC 2000 through 2012, you'll need AHJ buy-in to use the reduction.
The 2015 and 2018 edition of IFC removed the approval necessity for sprinkler flow reductions.
As part of this process the Fire Chief is also authorized to decrease the required fire flow, based on building isolation or impracticality. Alternatively, the Fire Chief is also authorized to increase based on unusual susceptibility for the facility. These stipulations come with Section B103 of Appendix B (all editions).
Fire Flow is used to quantify the available water supply for manual firefighting operation.
3. Verify Provided Fire Flow
The best way to verify fire flow for a location is to conduct a flow test at the site itself. This of course can be difficult to impossible for new-construction projects on virgin sites.
For developed areas or building expansions, this may not be difficult to accomplish.
I have a current project we're working on that is a major building expansion. Fire flow needed to be assessed based on the new expanded building and whether a single 8-inch feed would still meet the minimum requirements. A flow test on the site itself confirmed that we are just short of required fire flow which prompted a healthy discussion with the AHJ.
4. Calculate from Flow Test to Site (if necessary)
Sometimes a flow test can't be conducted on the site itself.
When this is the case, a hydraulic calculation can be run between the water supply source (nearby flow test, a water tower, reservoir, or pump) and the project site to estimate what the available fire flow will be. This calculation incorporates the pressure loss of the pipe network as water is constricted between a source and a project site. The best way to confirm actual fire flow (in my opinion) is to verify with a flow test once any extension is installed.
Easy Tools for Fire Flow & Water Supply Analysis
There's a new tool in the arsenal around here that directly addresses fire flow requirements.
It's the Fire Flow Calculator that's now a part of the Toolkit. If you're already a Toolkit subscriber, download it today.
The Fire Flow Calculator uses the IFC method based on your project parameters to quickly grab the baseline fire flow and duration, and make adjustments for sprinkler protection. Now you have extremely quick access to determine required fire flow, and the documentation to support your process.
This is a tool I'm happy to debut and have used with great client feedback.
On a side note, Toolkit subscribers also now have access to last week's Design Checklist with user-provided feedback. The download update includes both tools. Give them a download and let me know what you think!
Don't get these weekly articles? Subscribe here and get a free guide for canopies & overhangs.
If you've been following the blog for awhile, you might already know about the Toolkit that has really taken off lately. This past week I've incorporated some (great) user feedback and now have a new version to present:
I've revamped the organization and it's FAR easier to navigate and use now.
With a new main menu and crisp pages the Toolkit is FAR easier to navigate. Now you can get what you need, quickly.
If you're already a subscriber to the Toolkit, use the download link below to get the latest version right now. No need for any new access codes - it just updates the Toolkit right over your current version.
A clip of the latest version of the Sprinkler Obstruction Calculator on the MeyerFire Toolkit.
What is the Toolkit, and what does it include?
The MeyerFire Toolkit is a downloadable series of excel-based tools that allow fire protection designers, engineers and code authorities to quickly calculate a myriad of regular applications. With this tool you can save time with quick but powerful tools that you can save, PDF, or print.
The Toolkit contains all of the tools you see on this website - plus the popular Fire Sprinkler Database - which is a live collection of all fire sprinklers on the market where you can sort and filter to see what products exist for your application, and then specify or design the ones that best match your design goals.
A Free 30-Day Trial, Starting Today
If you've never seen the Toolkit, or have used a trial version before and are interested in testing the new look, download the toolkit with a trial code (good through late March) here:
There's a few new additions to the Toolkit I hope to debut in the next couple weeks based on suggestions from users just like you. If you're an expert in fire flow calculations or water storage tank design and are interested in early testing, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know someone who might be interested in giving the Toolkit a try, email them about downloading it today. As always, you can subscribe to these weekly articles & resources here.
I receive feedback regularly from many users and observers - and I'm very grateful for both!
Sprinkler Database Interest & Feedback
One member recently reached out about the Sprinkler Database and said:
"I appreciate all the work you’ve done on that site. The sprinkler database has helped tremendously when looking for specialty sprinklers, specifically available storage sprinkler is odd configurations!"
It's a tool that is basic in premise but can save tons of time when you're looking to compare sprinklers, find a specific type of sprinkler, or see if a solution exists for your specific problem. Here's a quick overview
Fire Pump Database
With the interest and feedback from the Sprinkler Database, it was only a matter of time before I expanded this into other areas. You may already have seen the Backflow Database, but now we have a beta version of a Fire Pump Database.
With the fire pump database you can now search for fire pumps of various configurations, drivers, sizes, and then instantly link to CAD and Revit models, performance curves, website links, product data, and dimensions. The current beta version includes AC, Armstrong, and Aurora Fire Pumps.
All-inclusive Toolkit members can log in and use the database now.
Know a Contact for Patterson or Peerless?
If you work for or know a great contact for Patterson Fire Pumps and Peerless Fire Pumps, please let me know their contact information. I'm looking to partner with both of these companies to also help connect users to their products.
Toolkit Sale Through November 30th
Interested in getting the Toolkit and access to all of our tools? Join between now and Friday the 30th for $30 off your first year's subscription. Just use coupon code CYBER18 when you checkout here before Friday November 30th.
Lastly, if you're in the US, I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!
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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Joseph Meyer, PE, owns/operates his own Fire Protection Engineering practice in St. Louis, Missouri. See bio on About page.