The fire sprinkler database is coming up on its third year in existence; it originally took hundreds of hours of research and plenty of updates, but we're happy to say now that we've upgraded the database to include better search, sort and filter capabilities.
The database is a collection of over 1,500 fire sprinkler models on the market today. Even with a select number of manufacturers, finding just the right type of sprinkler with correct spacing and minimal pressure demands can be tough. The database was built to get answers in seconds - with links directly to manufacturer websites & data sheets.
See a quick update video here:
The database is part of our Toolkit package. More information about that here.
Have a great rest of your week!
Back in 2016 and again this time last year, I put together some material and a cheatsheet for Floor Control Valve Assemblies. I loaded up the cheatsheet with inclusions of most pieces of equipment that could possibly be located as part of that package - pressure reducing valves, test outlets, and a five-piece inspector's test & drain.
I heard quite a bit - that's great - but what about a combination test & drain? What about when we don't have pressure reducing valves? What about a normal assembly?
Well today is the day for a more common arrangement of a floor control assembly on a combination standpipe/sprinkler riser.
One key simplification here is the combination inspector's test & drain, which since its introduction has helped reduce a significant amount of labor by combining the site glass, inspector's test valve, drain valve, and pressure relief all in a single device.
Related, but not correlated, we're happy to have AGF is our sponsor this month and if you haven't checked out their new offering, be sure to see the link here.
WHAT'S NEW AROUND MEYERFIRE
I hear weekly about what I see is the central issue that affects just about every small to midsize fire protection consultant, contractor, and review authority - recruiting and training young staff.
It's not that we need more warm bodies in the industry, we need knowledgeable and motivated people.
It's a big ask, and it falls right within the wheelhouse of our efforts around here to do something about it. We're all about combining knowledge & resources to help you do your work better. When you do that, we all win.
1 - ILLUSTRATED HANDBOOK
The first step towards that effort is a Handbook we're writing that will debut this fall. It will be a 200-page, full-color collection of all the best flowcharts, cheatsheets, checklists and breakdowns that we've ever created.
If you want an update when it is up for sale, pop your email here and we'll be sure to keep you updated.
2 - AN ALL-NEW TRAINING PLATFORM
The second step towards helping new hires go from zero to about three years experience-equivalent is training & mentoring. Courses are good, but they're often expensive, require travel, and when they're done they're done.
We are in the early stages of an all-new mentor & training platform that has a searchable video content library, daily video training, on-demand mini-courses, and our full suite of software tools. If you are interested in learning more as we develop this for Fall 2021, email Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be sure to keep you informed.
Thanks & have a great rest of your week!
We need you to go all-in on fire protection.
But, you might say, I already do fire protection.
Yes, but we need you to go all-in. We need your help.
TOO FEW IN THE INDUSTRY
There are far too few in the Fire Protection space.
For every licensed Fire Protection Engineer, there are 8 (eight!) licensed Mechanical Engineers.
Same goes for other disciplines, for every licensed Fire Protection Engineer, there are 4 Electricals, 11 Structurals, and 18 Civils.
We are outnumbered, and it’s not even close.
[aren’t most people in fire protection not FPEs? Yes, but the same goes for the other disciplines, too.]
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Why does it matter? Isn’t less competition good for business?
It matters because fire protection is very important, yet is overlooked and unaddressed on many construction projects around the world.
If you are in consulting or nuclear power and all you see is fire protection around you – that is great – but take a step back and look at the industry as a whole.
Ask a local contractor what they see across all their bid drawings. Ask your local AHJ what kind of fire protection input they get across all their projects.
What they see may surprise you.
Many projects, especially midsize and smaller, have zero pre-construction fire protection involvement. Many other projects have such little or poor fire protection input they would make a consultant blush.
I once was helping a contractor review bid documents for a multi-story hospital which called for Automatic Standpipes, but no fire pump. The water supply was marginal. I called the consultant to ask whether Automatic Standpipes were required. His response was that he “designed 19 of these hospitals across the country in the past year,” and he “doesn’t have time to figure out what’s required for each job.”
This, coming from a sizeable MEP firm who advertises fire protection design and runs it under their plumbing designers.
I come across this attitude about fire protection from many people that are on the ‘fringe’ of the industry… those that mainly do mechanical, plumbing, or electrical but then also put together basic plans and specifications for their projects.
I’ve seen the same from HVAC engineers who also “cover” fire protection. Light Hazard designations for commercial utility truck parking, running pipe entirely underneath buildings, or asking if we could “just use the better flow test result”.
These issues are not just regional either.
From the MEP standpoint, some feel that architects and owners are not willing to pay for fire protection. As a result, they put in an effort together commiserate with their fees.
ISSUES WITH FIRE PROTECTION AS A SUB-DISCIPLINE
There are so many issues here, yet it happens all the time.
First, from a bidder’s perspective it would be better to have no fire protection plans or specs, than plans or specs which are clearly wrong, get in the way, and do not address issues specific challenges of a project.
Second, the fire protection industry is extremely wide, and extremely deep. There’s life safety, passive fire protection, egress, fire alarm, suppression, special hazards, smoke control, explosion prevention, risk, and a host of other applications. People can spend their entire careers in just one of these areas.
How can someone say that they “do fire protection” when their main focus is something like HVAC design?
Can one person truly do fire protection well if they are spending less than five hours in it a week?
Are these people going to fire protection for continuing education, industry publications, organizations, or credentialing?
Not likely if it’s only a secondary effort.
There was a day when one engineer could handle all MEP disciplines for an entire building. Basic structures, when codes were 1/10th of their current thickness, and when industries were less nuances – sure – I could get behind someone doing wholistic design.
In today’s world? The handbook of NFPA 13 alone is over a thousand pages, and I would content that understanding only that standard does not itself make a great designer or engineer.
So why do we so commonly see other disciplines advertise and “do” fire protection, when in reality their documents and specifications hardly scratch the surface of what biddable documents should include?
SO FULL DESIGN ON EVERY JOB?
Just to be clear, I am not advocating that every building needs full-design fire suppression with every pipe & fitting shown on bid documents. In some cases that’s a great value to the owner, in some cases its not.
I do advocate for a minimum set of information that a consultant needs to address in their documents, when they “do” fire protection. We even put together a PDF checklist of these things here: https://www.meyerfire.com/blog/a-practical-read-world-design-spec-checklist.
DROP THE SPLIT JOB TITLE
But this is just one aspect of why we need you to be all-in on fire protection.
We need you to be the “fire protection person”. Not the “plumbing / fire protection designer”, “mechanical / fire protection engineer”, or any other split title.
We need you to be the fire protection person. No split. This industry needs you, and needs you bad.
Why does the distinction matter?
When you make fire protection your primary focus, you will look for fire protection content, first.
You will do continuing education in fire protection.
You will meet other people in the industry in fire protection organizations and learn from them.
You will jump in and figure out answers for fire protection challenges on projects, and not just ‘defer it to the contractor’.
You will distinguish yourself as the fire protection pro, and it will be awesome.
WHY GO ALL-IN?
Why go all-in on fire protection?
AREN'T WE COMPETITORS?
Why am I advocating that you get out of MEP and into Fire Protection? Aren’t we competitors?
First – because Fire Protection is awesome – and that’s why you should get out of MEP.
Second – just because you and I both work in the industry doesn’t mean you and I have to split the same pie. If you and I both do our work well and advocate for fire protection, what happens? More opportunities. More involvement on more projects. We make more pies. It’s not a zero sum game – it’s an abundance opportunity.
When you’re all in and do great work and provide value to building owners and architects, they’ll seek out more fire protection involvement in the future.
When that happens, we all win (life safety, property protection, and industry pros).
GO ALL IN.
Think about it. Talk to your boss. Make the shift.
You won't be alone - most of our industry started out in something other than fire protection.
Be the fire protection person.
We’re just getting started, and we need your help.
Drainage from a fire sprinkler system can often be overlooked as it does not directly fight the fire. However, those involved in inspections & testing of sprinkler systems know all too much about how poor drain design for a sprinkler system can negatively impact how tests are conducted, how long it takes a system to drain, and what messes building owners have to deal with.
Here are various components for drains on a sprinkler system, and some of the common requirements that pair with them.
For best viewing of the table below, click here: requirements-for-drains-in-fire-sprinkler-systems.html
We're back this week with an overview of Pressure Gauges in Fire Suppression Systems. NFPA 13, 14, and NFPA 20 provide guidance on where pressure gauges are required, and recommendations for various aspects around pressure gauges. This week's checklist includes various aspects and code references all-around pressure gauges.
What tips & tricks would you recommend surrounding pressure gauges based on your experience? Let us know here.
For more articles like this, subscribe here. Thanks & have a great rest of your week!
For those ready to take on the Practice & Principles of Engineering (PE) Exam this year, it's about that time again! Weather is getting warmer, the kids are about ready to get out of school, and we're getting our weekly dose of SFPE course emails - time to get started!
Around here we're excited to introduce a different twist on a favorite - we're turning our daily free sample problems into an on-demand series, with instant solutions. If you're interested in getting 100 days of free Fire Protection PE Exam sample questions, sign up here:
If you're just curious and want the challenge - go for it!
If you are suiting up for the PE Exam this year, be sure to check out what we've got going:
2021 PE PREP GUIDE
The 2021 Edition of the PE Prep Guide is hot off the press and is shipping out daily. This new edition now includes the PE Roadmap written by our friends at the BuildingCode.Blog, which is a full-length study schedule, study topics, and suggested readings for a full-blown self-study program. There's also a condensed study schedule as well. That's all now included with the PE Prep Guide.
THE PE PREP SERIES
The PE Prep Series is starting up next week. Last year over 85 participants took part in the 20-week online series, which includes a timed mini-exam of 10 questions each week. Check it out here and join us as the summer competition heats up.
[NEW] PE ROADMAP VIDEO SERIES
Lastly - an announcement I'm very excited is finally here. After many requests we finally have an online series of videos that work through Prep Series solutions by hand. That's over 200 hand-worked solutions and 30+ hours of helpful content. It's developed and run by our friends at the Building Code Blog, and we couldn't be more excited that this new resources is now available for the Fire Protection PE Prep space. See more about it here.
Any questions, shoot them my way at email@example.com. Hope you have a great rest of your week!
Most of my articles don't necessarily break new ground - and that's intentional. There are a lot of people smarter than myself who volunteer for many years to contribute to the codes and standards we have today.
My role, as I've seen it for some time, is helping share lessons learned and my understanding of those topics. When we share our knowledge, we all help create a world a little more safe from fire.
After writing off and on for five years now (woah!), I finally have something that might be a new contribution to the industry. Not in a real or tangible way, but something that may just not have been thought about exactly like this before. I've asked around and I haven't seen this concept out in the world before, so I think this could be something new.
It could also have very well been thought about and published 30 years ago and just got buried in history. If so, I'll disclaim credit.
My father in-law is a mechanical engineer in research and product development, and for years he's help spur ideas and help kick around new things to try. He once said (perhaps jokingly) that to really make a dent in the world you have to name some kind of industry contribution after yourself.
Well, today's the day. I'm calling this concept the Meyer Box.
I know, I know. This is so profound and earth-shattering. I'm so glad I've come up with such a great name for what could be my only real new-ground breakthrough to date.
Also, if there aren't enough things named Meyer-something around here, I felt it my duty to throw yet another thing into the mix. So if you were itching for more Meyer, then my friend today is your day.
The concept started with the way we lay out smoke detectors. We're allowed to space smoke detectors 30-feet apart, or, as an alternative, any location as long as all points within a room are within 21-feet. I wrote an article about this (often-overlooked) method some time ago.
Sprinkler spacing follows similar logic; except there is an allowable coverage area, per sprinkler, and a maximum spacing that sprinklers can be apart.
Why isn't there some shape for a sprinkler, that if all floor areas are covered in it, that protection is appropriate?
Like all my typical daydreaming, I immediately was forced to spend the rest of the billable hours that day jumping further and further down a wormhole of algebra and confusion.
If you've ever worked with an architect on a sprinkler layout, you know they love to draw circles around sprinklers and spot-the-dot in a very crude way. Is it accurate? No. Does it meet code? No. Does it get them where they need to go? Not really, but they seem to think so.
If a circle doesn't work, there's got to be some natural geometric relationship (a shape) that would work.
That's when I got to experimenting and back to some basic math.
Light Hazard rules are basic, and they result in a basic shape. Non-combustible (or combustible unobstructed) standard spray upright & pendent sprinklers get 225 sqft per sprinkler, and a maximum spacing of 15-feet according to NFPA 13.
First, I drew a sprinkler (above). Next, I copied the sprinkler to the maximum spacing for Light Hazard, 15-feet to the right:
What is the maximum distance these two sprinklers can be copied vertically and not be overspaced? For Light Hazard, that's easy - 15-feet. The 15-ft x 15-ft spacing is exactly 225 sqft total, which is right at the maximum spacing per sprinkler:
Now, if we attribute sprinkler coverage to each of these sprinklers, the dividing line would simply be the midpoint between each sprinkler, effectively creating just a 15-ft x 15-ft box around each sprinkler.
For light hazard, this "box" is easily understood, and is basic. Things get more interesting when our coverage area is limited to 130 square feet per sprinkler, like we often see for Ordinary Hazard.
Using the same approach, let's start with a single sprinkler, ad then copy to a maximum spacing of 15-feet to the right:
Now, in order to not exceed 130 square feet per sprinkler, what is the maximum these two sprinklers can be spaced in the opposite direction? That would be 130 sqft / 15-feet, or 8.67-feet to the north:
Now for the sake of trying to attribute an area to each sprinkler, let's identify the exact intersection of coverage between these four sprinklers. It would be the midpoint of all four sprinklers, here:
Note here that if the north-to-south distance was less than 8'-8", we would still have compliant coverage. This is the maximum spacing between these sprinklers to still accommodate 130 sqft per sprinkler.
But what if our spacing in the east-west direction was less than 15-feet? Say it's 13-feet. Here's where that new midpoint lands:
Keeping that original sprinkler in the same place, we can repeat this process over and over again re-spacing the other three sprinklers in their maximum configuration:
If we keep running this process over and over, we start to see a trend in how this boundary exists:
Around each sprinkler, there's a natural boundary line, where if every sprinkler's box covers the floor area, then the 130 sqft-per-sprinkler coverage area is met.
This new box around the original sprinkler is what we're talking about. If this box stays with each sprinkler, then as long as all of the floor area is covered within a sprinkler's box, the coverage rules are met. Let's look at what this does practically when laying out sprinklers:
Why would this be helpful?
For one, you can now instantly see whether a layout adequately covers all floor areas. Think less dimensioning and hand-calculating whether a sprinkler is overspaced at 130 sqft.
For two, as you're laying out a system, it's easy to snap to the maximum opposite dimension. In the video above, I entered in 13-feet in the east-west direction, and 10-feet in the north-south direction. That's 130 sqft per sprinkler. However, with this box I could also just select the box and copy from the intersection of the boxes.
Above, this would be a code-compliant layout. There are no gaps in these coverage boxes.
There are exceptions to this to watch, though. Irregular boundaries might be inside a coverage box, but would exceed the maximum spacing or 130 sqft for the sprinkler.
These are exceptions though, and don't come up often. When I lay out sprinklers I evaluate these one-off scenarios when they crop up, and address them at that time.
Could the same shape be performed for a 100 sqft limitation? Yes, it can. Here's what a 100 sqft limit with 12-ft max spacing would look like:
Mathematically, how are these curves defined?
If a sprinkler is at (0,0) on an X-Y coordinate graph; to get any Y-coordinate on the 130 sqft box the equation would be
Y = 32.5 / X
(where X is the X-coordinate, and is between 4.3 and 7.5).
Why is this a power function? Simple - X x Y = 130 sqft. If we're drawing a curve to represent one-fourth of the overall area, then we take X x Y = 130 / 4, or, rearranged, Y = (130/4x) = 32.5 X.
Where would we draw the line for the 100 sqft box? Similar premise:
Y = 25 / X
(where X is the X-coordinate, and is between 3.9 and 6)
Why is this relevant?
Having coverage boxes for sprinklers can be a huge time saver if used appropriately. Model these in CAD blocks or Revit families and the time saved on sprinkler layouts and review alone could be major.
How do I draw these up? Are there familes or CAD blocks I can use? Yes - I've drawn these myself and uploaded the files for paid members here. Just login and download these files.
Have you used anything similar before? What are your thoughts? Comment on the blog here (www.meyerfire.com/blog) or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Always interested in your take.
Have a great rest of your week!
A year ago I published an updated flowchart on fire sprinkler requirements for Porte-Cocheres, Canopies & Overhangs under NFPA 13. Since then I've had a few requests for sprinkler requirements for Balconies that are under NFPA 13R.
Today I'm happy to say that it's finally here; a cheatsheet for when a sprinkler is required for balconies, porches, and other similar exterior projects for NFPA 13R.
Take a look and let me know what you think!
We believe that shared knowledge and sharp resources make for better fire protection all around. Our goal here at MeyerFire is to help fire protection professionals thrive, which in turn makes a more informed, safer world and a better industry all-around. That really is our credence.
I plan to talk a little more on that next week, but for this one I hope you have a great rest of your week! Keep fighting the good fight.
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.
Thanks & have a great week!
A quick update this week - back in 2018 I put together a flowchart for when sprinklers are required in closets. It was nice and had some nice feedback, but it only pertained to the 2016 Editions of NFPA 13, 13D, and 13R. This week I went back and made some major updates for references from the 2002 through the 2019 Editions for each of these standards.
This cheatsheet is a little more printer-friendly (11x17) and simplified to the NFPA 13, 13D and 13R standards.
If you're a fan of these cheatsheets and flowcharts, check out the Toolkit. For a limited time we've set up an instant-download of all the latest cheatsheets immediately when you subscribe. If you're already a subscriber, great! Just login for the link.
Hope you have a great rest of your week!
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Joe Meyer, PE, is a Fire Protection Engineer out of St. Louis, Missouri who writes & develops resources for Fire Protection Professionals. See bio here: About