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.
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!
Earlier this week I read a very basic question on a sprinkler design forum. Some say there are no bad questions. Those hypothetical people may never have been in a Facebook Group.
The question clearly showed the lack of understanding on the part of the person asking the question.
You can imagine what happened next – the keyboard warriors went to battle. They had fun blasting the novice into the internet oblivion.
And this happens all the time.
It doesn’t have to be Facebook. It happens on Facebook for Businesses (also known as LinkedIn), email forums, Reddit, and other online technical forums.
It is also not limited to the digisphere. A bad question in a conference room or in the field gets chided at best or embarrassingly criticized at worst.
Did we all not start somewhere with nothing?
I’m not a second generation Fire Protection Engineer, but my guess is those that are third and fourth generation practitioners don’t come out of the womb spelling escutcheon correctly.
I'm still not 100% convinced I spelled it right just now.
We all started knowing literally nothing. We each are on our own journey learning piece by piece and at different paces that never really ends. The best experts that have spent three decades in the industry are still always trying to improve.
Is there harm in asking a dumb question? Yes, but it’s not the embarrassment in the moment or the obvious display of misunderstanding. It’s the discouragement to ask the next question.
When Average Jim (I have to use Average Jim because Average Joe hits a little too close to home for me) actually seeks an answer to a basic question and gets lambasted – you know what he’s not going to do? He’s not going to ask the next five questions that he also needs answers on.
On the very first morning of my very first internship, I asked a bad one. I was maybe 15 minutes into that first day when the site project manager asked me to make copies of a handful of documents. I asked if the staples had to come out before making copies.
Dumb question? Yeah. Do commercial copiers appreciate hard metal through their sensitive little feeder claws? No. And had I ever used a commercial copier before? No.
If I hadn’t asked, would I have been the dufus that destroyed a commercial copier 15 minutes into his first internship? Yeah brah, that would have been moi.
I heard so much crap about asking that question, but I was glad I did. I also never had to ask it again.
Eventually my questions got slightly more sophisticated and a little better, but I did start at nothing.
I’m not going to change human behavior. I can’t help people act online like they would in a face to face conversation.
What I can do is provide a better avenue for those people who don’t want to be vilified but do need answers to their question.
With nearly a couple decades of internet usage we know now that it isn’t Vegas - what happens on the Internet stays on the Internet. Like forever.
It’s getting more and more difficult to ask a question that isn’t tagged to your name, your company, or your reputation. Your forum question you wrote in 2007 when you didn’t know anything on pre-action systems? Yeah it’s probably still searchable.
Goodness knows I’d rather not have my kids go post-by-post from what I put on Facebook during high school. Same would go for a client seeing questions I would have had early in my career.
So what can I do about it now? Create a quality avenue for the question - any question - whether it’s expert-level or at square one - and not tie a personal reputation to it.
If you haven’t checked it out, the Daily Forum is a place for a single, filtered, anonymous question each day. There are experts there from a wide variety of backgrounds and locations that have far more knowledge than I could hope to gain.
Experts from across the globe, from AHJs to Designers to Researches to Installers to Engineers. Last I checked we were approaching nearly 3,000 subscribers just to those questions.
If you have a "dumb" question, if you don’t want to ask your boss, if you need an outside opinion, and you don’t want your identity tied to something it? Send us your question here. Also consider bookmarking the page so you can send in that question the next time you're stumped.
The link toward the bottom of this email “Have a fire protection question?” is always there for exactly that same reason.
Chances are, if you have an interest or can’t find an answer, someone else is looking for it too. When you ask, we all learn. And that’s exactly what this site is all about.
Free NFSA Virtual Conference Tomorrow
This year's National Fire Sprinkler Association Business and Leadership Conference went Virtual. The virtual seminars are this week (Thursday the 30th and Friday the 1st). Registration is live, it is FREE, and CEUs will be awarded. Check it out here.
I had the pleasure to talk about the changing digital media opportunities in fire protection with the host of the Fire Sprinkler Podcast, Chris Logan, as part of the virtual conference. I believe we'll air at 2:35 pm Eastern Time on Thursday.
A New, Free, Fire Protection App
I've gotten asked a good handful of times - "Will you make an app?"
While I am quintessentially a millennial who disowns being a millennial, I have thought about making an app.
The good news is, there's already one that I was able to help beta test and can now share with you. 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.
Thanks & I hope you have a safe and great rest of your week.
The past seven days have been a very exciting time with the launch of CodeCalls.org. If you missed last week's article, here's more about it.
This week's post is a quick one with an ask.
In short, CodeCalls.org is a free database that brings together jurisdictions and designers to help clarify the parts of code that are not always written in ordinances. Jurisdictions can get what they need for operations while designers get a little more clarity and help in meeting local guidelines.
I've heard from many this past week about how they'd love to see this come together, and I greatly appreciate the input and encouragement. I've also heard a couple concerns that I'm optimistic we can incorporate as we learn and grow while working on this.
Our first goal is making sure the project is viable. Essentially we have to prove to ourselves that we will be able to provide enough valuable content that both designers and jurisdictions benefit. We're doing this by going all in on the State of Indiana. If we get things to work there, we feel comfortable that we can learn and expand into other areas.
I have a quick ask this week - if you have worked in Indiana, or know of people who do, could you put us in touch? My email is email@example.com, my co-founder Chris' email is firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you got this post via email you can just reply directly to it.
I'd love to have a quick conversation about how we can make the experience easy and that the benefits of helping will far outweigh the task of reaching out. I see that as the only way we can get this project rolling and I'd be thrilled to have that conversation.
Thanks in advance, and have a great week!
Last spring I created a beta test tool for soffit obstructions to sprinklers. It was fairly basic using the dimensional rules for a soffit against a wall for a standard-spray pendent or upright sprinkler.
Thanks to some feedback and more input on this tool, I'm happy to debut it with new features. I've added code references from the 2007 to 2019 editions of NFPA 13, the different style sprinklers, and an updated visual diagram.
This tool is useful when there's a dropped soffit against a wall to determine whether the sprinkler will throw sufficiently underneath the soffit.
In the coming weeks I'll break out a code path for determining when each of these tools are used. For now, if you're familiar with the NFPA 13 Sections for Obstructions Against Walls then you'll recognize this tool's quick usefulness.
This tool stems from the Figures (b) and (c) for Obstructions Against Walls found in NFPA 13 Section 126.96.36.199.2 for Standard Spray Sprinklers, 188.8.131.52.2 and 184.108.40.206.4 for Extended Coverage Sidewall and Pendent/Uprights, and Sections 220.127.116.11.2 and 18.104.22.168.4 for Residential Sidewalls and Pendent/Uprights.
Interested in getting access to every tool? Get the Toolkit here.
Know someone that might be interested in this tool? Send them a link! It's greatly appreciated.
Have a great 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!
This time of year is just the best.
I feel extremely fortunate to have three young kiddos at home, a supportive and all-around great family, and an extremely rewarding career in fire protection and doing what I do here at MeyerFire.com. Whether you subscribe, dabble occasionally on the forum, or just stop in to use tools here and there, THANK YOU for a really wonderful 2019.
One of the tasks of wrapping up a year is revisiting what resonated the most in 2019 of all the content here. If you just joined in this year or know someone who would benefit from this content, please consider sending a link.
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.
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Joseph Meyer, PE, owns/operates his own Fire Protection Engineering practice in St. Louis, Missouri. See bio on About page.