Please don't take me to be an elitist.
I know what you’re thinking – yeah, right – this chump is from St. Louis and he’s not full of himself!?
It’s true I was raised in and have since circled back to St. Louis, Missouri. If you've heard of St. Louis it's probably because we're the most dangerous city in Missouri, or the Midwest, or the world or something. It's really not that bad if you don't have kids or go outside after sunset.
The other knock on St. Louis is that we're secretly wishing we were Chicago and, in terms of self-inflated ego, consider ourselves the last city on the East Coast.
Yeah that's also true.
While I am proud of our baseball team and beer production, please don't take me to be an elitist.
For instance, if you and I are talking fire protection and you use any of the following common wrong terms, I won't correct you. I don't even see a need to correct any of these terms, but I do find it interesting that several slightly incorrect phrases have been so pervasive in the fire protection industry.
Here’s my top list of misnomers in fire protection:
6. "Semi-Recessed" Sprinklers
I mentioned that I don't try and correct terms. The "semi-recessed" sprinkler is the reason I don't.
I had some very knowledgeable and technical counterparts in a prior role that were driven a little crazy with the term "semi-recessed".
A sprinkler can be concealed (only coverplate showing), can be fully-exposed pendent, or it can be recessed (deflector located closer to the ceiling as to show less).
If you consider a concealed sprinkler to be "fully-recessed," then I understand the logic that gets us to the "semi-recessed" designation.
However, some read "semi-recessed" a redundant term along the lines of "we want this partially exposed, but only partially." Putting the semi- is asking for partial of the partial.
5. Goose Necks
“Fire sprinkler return bend” is not as much fun as saying "goose neck," yet the two terms are synonymous for fire sprinkler systems. Of any of the odd or misappropriated terms in fire protection this one is the least offensive and is technically not even a misnomer.
That being said, three sticks of pipe and a couple elbows off a pipe outlet just doesn't scream goose to me...
The Goose Neck, also known as a fire sprinkler return bend.
4. Everything Is Awesome... and apparently is a Fire Wall
I enjoy working with architects. I do, and I'm not just saying that because my mortgage depends upon their continued blessing.
One requirement I'm convinced is part of the architect licensing is to call any rated separation a “Fire Wall.”
Fire Barrier, Fire Partitions, Smoke Barrier? Nope.
If it's not a rated wall that extends through the entire building and allows structural collapse on either side, it's probably not a Fire Wall and is more than likely a Fire Barrier. If it’s a separation wall in I-1 or some residential occupancies, tenant space separation, corridor walls, elevator lobbies, or egress balconies it may even only be a Fire Partition.
3. Spelling the "E" word
I never won a spelling bee as a child, but I'm confident enough I don't often run spellcheck.
My run as an ever-confident fire protection engineer ended when a peer review from another firm pointed out my incorrect spelling of "escutcheon". I'd like to pretend it was a one-off instance, but the misspelling was in a standard detail I had created and had been using for a couple years. Swing and a miss.
Es-cutch-eon: a flat piece of metal for protection or covering around a hole or void. And a tough one to spell.
2. Fully-Sprinkled Building
Your preschooler's dream: a fully-sprinkled building.
This one can be a little hard to spot, but did you notice there’s an “er” missing in this term?
When it happens I just imagine raining sprinkles through a building. Sounds tasty, but have you ever tried sprinkles plain? Not good.
1. Sprinkler Head
Lastly, this is the big one.
In the origins of fire sprinkler systems, a "sprinkler head" was a designation to the device that forced water distribution at the tip of the system.
Over 100 years later the fire sprinkler is still around, but the sprinkler has since adapted to the name "sprinkler" in lieu of "sprinkler head".
A sprinkler head.
Need evidence? It takes NFPA 13, the leading authority on fire sprinkler systems, 22 chapters before even mentioning the term "sprinkler head", and even then uses the term in talking about cabinet installation for nitrate film protection. Hardly a reining endorsement or common usage of the term.
In fact, Chapter 22 is the only chapter that even uses the term "sprinkler head". All other references are to the "sprinkler" or "fire sprinkler" throughout the entire standard.
What's the beef with using the term "sprinkler head"? Well, sprinklers don't have heads. They have frames and deflectors, but no heads. Besides, a whole lot of peeping “heads” throughout a building would just be creepy.
Hollywood already does our industry enough disservice, we don't need people thinking there's heads in the sprinklers, right?
Have you come across any of these? What are your pet peeves? Comment here.
Do you get these free articles by email? Subscribe here if not.
4/4/2018 11:37:42 am
THANK YOU! I've been feeling all alone, being the only one for years cringing at the term "sprinkler head." Many, many years ago I read that" sprinkler head" is not correct, but I have never been able to find that source again. And I cannot bring anyone to my side. I believe I have seen an instance where the term crept into an NFPA edition, and was promptly removed by the next edition. I mean, not TIA, but removed later. I'm surprised is still exists in Chapter 22.
4/4/2018 12:45:48 pm
Yeah, "Sprinkler Head" part in the article is good and interesting one. Never observed it only appears in Chapter 22 only! If Sprinkler is called a Sprinkler Head, a Nozzle also shall be called a Nozzle Head, isn't it? Very nice article for lighter side reading on fire protection. Thanks and keep writing.
4/4/2018 05:22:51 pm
Unfortunately many names and terms for things go back to prior to the discovery of fire. How many Latin terms are used and that language has been dead for centuries. Plumbers came before sprinkler fitters. They stole all the sexual names so they could remember when women were not allowed in the trades. "Square and plumb" and "pitch to drain" we're taught during apprenticeship. They still have trouble with round buildings and sloping floors/roofs. Even monkeys do not know what a monkey wrench is.
4/15/2018 08:00:35 am
All industries have their peculiarities and the term gooseneck is not unique to the sprinkler industry to indicate a pipe configuration with planes of adjustment simply because the neck of a goose is capable of similar movement. Of all the idiosyncrasies you refer to this is must be least offensive one and surely not even worthy of the mention. There are far worse misnomers in the fire protection industry which for some reason find no mention in your list, not least of all the permeability of water curtains
4/17/2018 07:56:48 am
Good article. As a fitter and educator in the industry, I run into these a lot. I have heard industry vets call sprinklers "heads", or "sprinkler heads".
6/27/2018 03:06:26 pm
I have edited this term for years to delete head. I have said unless it is in the definition in NFPA 13 or any pother NFPA Standard, it is not a legitimate definition for a sprinkler. I stand by that now and forever, or until it appears in the definitions..
Comments are closed.
Get Free Articles via Email:
+ Get calculators, tools, resources and articles
+ Get our PDF Flowchart for Canopy & Overhang Requirements instantly
+ No spam
+ Unsubscribe anytime
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