Things are back - now that the PE Prep season is (mostly) passed, I'm turning attention back to a backlog of fun fire protection tools and ideas to share with you.
Today's tool comes from an idea sent in by Gerald Ebeling, Owner of 3D Fire Design in Texas.
It's a new Domestic Demand Calculator - it can turn fixture counts over to a domestic demand in gpm or L/min - or you could hand count plumbing fixtures and calculate a domestic demand yourself. It works with the 2002 through 2019 editions of NFPA 13R and with both US and SI units.
Things are back - now that the PE Prep season is (mostly) passed, I'm turning attention back to a backlog of fun fire protection tools and ideas to share with you.
This week is a new Domestic Demand Calculator - it can turn fixture counts over to a domestic demand in gpm or L/min - or you could hand count plumbing fixtures and calculate a domestic demand yourself. It works with the 2002 through 2019 editions of NFPA 13R and with both US and SI units.
Why Calculate Domestic Demand?
For a combined service entry serving both fire suppression and domestic water needs, the flow through the combined main will include flow that is already happening on the domestic water side. Faster water movement will create more friction loss.
When a combined service is 4 or 6-inch and there's only a couple restrooms - the demand for a fire sprinkler system will likely be far higher than the domestic will ever need.
However, for smaller residential systems, the domestic demand could be as much if not more than the sprinkler demand. A combined service that serves both these purposes will need to take the domestic demand into account.
There is a workaround for this though - automatic domestic shutoff valves can direct flow to the sprinkler system and automatically cutoff domestic demand during a fire event. If these are used, NFPA 13R says that domestic flow doesn't need to be considered.
In all other cases, NFPA 13R states that domestic flow through the combined portions of the main do need to be considered and calculated for a fire sprinkler system.
The New Tool
The Domestic Demand Calculator will be included in the next update of the downloadable MeyerFire Toolkit. For the next couple months, I'll leave it up on the site for free access for everyone. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Thanks and have a great 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
I'm taking a few weeks this summer to spend time in tool development and get some longer-term projects moving. Look forward to posting new articles in mid August! If you want to catch up, you can always reach me at email@example.com or subscribe for updates when they're posted here.
Determining the correct height of a fire sprinkler relative to structure and ceilings or roofs is not typically a difficult task. Yet, the more I explored the basic premise the more I realized how different the needs for each sprinkler type are.
This week I've been working on a cheatsheet for fire sprinkler deflector heights. It's a flowchart that helps direct the sprinkler height and code reference based on the type of sprinkler. Click here to download a PDF copy.
If you find cheatsheets like these helpful, consider subscribing to free tools like these here.
Take a look and let me know what you think. Thanks & have a great week!
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.
The value of critical thinking could probably never be understated in our industry.
I’ve found that many of the sharpest minds and best leaders I’ve encountered in fire protection are avid readers and relentless learners. Reading regularly is an incredibly valuable tool to broaden our perspective and grow our own limits.
This week I’m taking a step aside from the technical content a putting up a summer reading list for books I’ve found interesting and helpful for professionals in our arena.
#1 Talking to Strangers
Accomplished author Malcolm Gladwell offers an extremely timely perspective of our natural tendency to overestimate our ability to judge others and underestimate our own ability to be understood. Published just in Fall 2019 this book explores major storylines of the last few years and breaks down the misunderstandings we carry when talking to strangers.
This is a powerful and timely read, especially after the events of the past couple months. | Link
#2 The Future is Faster Than You Think
If you’ve followed some of the prior book summaries I’ve written you know that the advancements we have coming our way in the near future is something I take great interest in. This book is a continuation of my favorite book of all time (next), by Peter Diamandis.
Every innovation we’ve achieved has been from a mixing of ideas that are at the cusp of the technology at any given time. We have witnessed more technological advancement in the last one hundred years than our entire history before it.
While we naturally tend to think the present will continue into the future (without major innovation) for the next decades, our history is saying the opposite; the time gap between major innovation has shortened (think major disruptions like internet and cell phones). Due to “convergence” of a wide variety of innovations in transport, medicine, AI, and a host of other developments, these time gaps are getting shorter. If our history has shown us anything, its that the pace of change is increasing and the near future will see major advancements that will reshape how we view the world. | Link
#3 Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think
I’ve written on this one before, but I continue to circle back to it and never finish the book without a sense of hope for the direction our world is heading.
If you follow the nightly news its easy to see that the world is shattered and on the verge of complete collapse… except that’s a microview.
Stepping back and looking at trends across history, its clear that we’re in store for a better, cleaner healthier future that is backed by data. A phenomenal read. | Link
#4 Design is a Job
This is a surprisingly brash and straightforward book of guidance on how to market, sell and support a design-related business.
While the author is in the programming and graphic design industry, so much of the discussion in this book applies directly to the architectural/engineering space.
A very interesting and refreshing read about the nuances of working in a design-related field. | Link
#5 Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World
This is the first time I’ll mention it, but it won’t be the last. The long-term vision for going starting this website and going independent is to try and make the world a little better each day. Water doesn’t just fight fires, it’s the single most important need we have as humans. This book takes a very personal transformative story of a nightclub promoter turned major nonprofit co-founder. The more interesting and encouraging part of the story is about the positive impact that providing clean water to the developing world does. The long-term MeyerFire vision is pointed directly at the most fundamental need we have globally and we’re saving towards some exciting goals on this front. More to come, but as for the book it’s an impact read. | Link
Those are five of my most impactful reads recently. What have you read that you'd recommend? Comment here.
I hope you are having a great week.
This week is a 2020 update to a popular post from 2016 with a free PDF cheatsheet. It's usefully for novice designers or experienced inspectors, with clear code references and purposes of each of the components that go into a floor control assembly serving a fire sprinkler system.
A breakout of each of the components that go into a fire sprinkler floor control assembly.
If you find any of these tools helpful, consider sharing with a friend or colleague and nudge them to subscribe for more tools and tips like this here: www.meyerfire.com/subscribe. Thanks in advance!
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!
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Joseph Meyer, PE, owns/operates his own Fire Protection Engineering practice in St. Louis, Missouri. See bio on About page.