Chicago SFPE, on behalf of Siemens, donates fire alarm equipment to CFD

The Chicago Chapter of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) is happy to work with the Chicago Fire Department (CFD) and be in a position to donate a new, state of the art, fire alarm panel to the Robert J. Quinn Fire Academy. The CFD is one of the oldest, most innovative, and storied fire departments in the country. Similarly, the Chicago Chapter of SFPE is the oldest chapter of SFPE and tirelessly works to promote fire safety on the local level through our dedicated membership. It is that membership and Siemens’ Fire & Life Safety Service that enabled this donation of a Siemens FireFinder XLS alarm panel. This fully functional Siemens panel with devices and appliances will be used to train the new recruits of the Chicago Fire Department. The CFD along with providing emergency care and extinguishing fires, works to promote fire safety. Similarly, part of SFPE’s mission is to advance the use of engineering, and educate the global fire safety community, in order to reduce fire risk. Through these parallel organizational goals, SFPE is honored to be able to make this donation and with it, hope that our organizations can continue to work together on our shared objectives. It is with great gratitude to those brave and dedicated members of the CFD, that the Chicago Chapter of SFPE and Siemens make this fire alarm panel donation to the Chicago Fire Department.

April 2016 Breakfast Meeting – Consequence Models – Storage Tank Applications

The Chicago SFPE chapter held their monthly meeting in a different format, a breakfast meeting. The Venue was Egg Harbor Café in Elmhurst, Illinois. The attendees were generally pleased with the location and food. Dan Fritz, President, announced that we will consider more early-format meetings in the future.

The speaker was Judy Krumpolc, an engineer with Axa-Matrix Risk Consultants, who provided an interesting discussion of flammable liquid storage tank fires, consequences, industry standards and modeling. The discussion focused on pool fires, defined as: turbulent diffuse fire burning above a horizontal pool of vaporizing fuel where that vapor has zero initial momentum. Consequence models being utilized include PHAST, NIST FDS, CIRRUS and others. Wind effects and drag on flames are considerations. Flame radiation modeling was discussed where view factors, atmospheric transmissivity and emissive power are the key inputs. Typical thermal criteria of interest at target surfaces include, 2 kW/sq m for >10 minutes, at level at which steel loses strength; 6.3 kW/sq ft, a level at which a firefighter in bunker gear can survive and fight a fire; and, 8 kW/sq m, a threshold for cooling adjacent tanks to keep fuels from igniting.

Related standards of interest include NFPA 30 and FM datasheet 7-88. Modeling together with standards application provide data for decisions on minimum tank spacing and other items of interest.

(submitted by K. Mniszewski)

IIT/West Engineers Week Open House

February Luncheon Seminar – Building Construction Fire Safety

The Chicago SFPE chapter meeting on February 10, 2015, was held at the William Tell Holiday Inn in Countryside, IL. This was our annual meeting together with fire service staff. The speakers were William Vogt and Mark Nielsen, with the Chicago Fire Department. William is the District Chief of Special Projects and Mark is the Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Fire Suppression and Rescue. There were about 50 attendees.

Per NFPA statistics there are about 3.7 firefighter injuries per 100 structure fires. That number doubles for buildings under construction or vacant. This is a special concern in Chicago, as at least three out of five firefighter deaths have been in construction/vacant/ abandoned-related buildings. Of particular note is the recent with two firefighter deaths and more than a dozen injured in an abandoned warehouse roof collapse on the city’s south side in December 2010. Since 1973, the rule for fighting fires in these situations has been to fight defensively from the outside.

A “Red X” system has been in place in Chicago, where vacant/abandoned buildings are marked with a red X, so that firefighters know better what they’re up against. Since then there have been no injuries in those type of structures, where marked.

Of course the system isn’t perfect, as markings attract vagrants and they are not preferred by owners, banks, politicians, etc. Some other large cities use variations on this system with additional markings to indicate the type of situation that a structure may in, e.g. rehab. The Chicago FD is considering such variations.

The speakers solicited comments and suggestions from fire experts on this topic to help alleviate the potential for injury and death.

Click this link for a copy of the presentation: Abondon Vacant Rehab Structures

(submitted by K. Mniszewski, 2/15/16)

November 2015 Luncheon and Hilti Firestop Life Safety Seminar

The Chicago SFPE chapter held luncheon seminar on November 9, 2015, at Nia Mediterranean Tapas Restaurant at 803 W. Randolph Street in Chicago. The food was good and a pleasant change from the usual lunch fare. Parking was a little difficult.

Elaine Szot, a field engineer with Hilti, presented, “Hilti Firestop Life Safety Seminar”. This included a refresher on firestop systems, life safety issues, Code provisions and issues, current standards and testing methods, UL nomenclature, selecting the correct firestop system, specific firestop system drawing and engineering judgement, factors effecting firestop performance, inspection issues, and typical applications. Several products were available to look at and touch.

A copy of the presentation can be found here: Hilti Firestop Seminar for SFPE Chicago Chapter 11-9-15

(submitted by K. Mniszewski, 11/20/15)

October 2015 Educational Seminar

The Chicago SFPE chapter held their October Educational Seminar on October 7-8, 2015, at Underwriters Laboratories LLC, Building 5A, in Northbrook, Illinois. This was a great opportunity to learn some new things, refresh your knowledge on other things and get 10 PDH credit, all for a bargain price! Attendance was about 30.

The instruction schedule was as follows.

Wednesday, Oct. 7

8:30 am – 8:45 am

Arrival and Sign-In

8:45 am – 10:15 am

Andrew F. Blum, P.E., CFEI, Exponent, Inc.

10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Mark Pillow, The Solberg Company

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm


1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

David Hague, Liberty Mutual Insurance

2:45 pm – 4:15 pm

Joseph H. Talbert, Aon Fire Protection Engineering

Thursday, Oct. 8

8:30 am – 8:45 am

Arrival and Sign-In

8:45 am – 10:15 am

Mr. Chen Su P.E. & Mr. Philipe Smith,
Aon Fire Protection Engineering Corporation

10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Adam Barowy, UL LLC

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm


1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Tour of UL

On Wednesday, Andrew Blum, with Exponent, Inc. began with a discussion of Lithium-ion battery technology, covering basic types of battery construction and fire behavior. He continued with the NFPA Research Foundation fire research on battery applications including electric vehicles and bulk battery storage. Additional research was presented on firefighting of electrical vehicles. Mark Pillow, with the Solberg Company, followed with a refresher on foam systems design, covering the history and current/future foam technologies. There was much discussion of newer film-forming foams with less toxic and much better environmental characteristics while retaining good performance. Later, David Hague, with Liberty Mutual, provided a great discussion of high rise standpipe systems, including an update on NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation of Standpipe Systems. Dave provided a good historical background on the subject. There have been some interesting new changes, especially with system acceptance. The last speaker on Wednesday was Joseph Talbert, with Aon Fire Protection Engineering, who gave an introduction of using FSES (from NFPA 101A, Guide on Alternative Approaches to Life Safety). This was especially useful for those of us who don’t have experience with that code equivalency method. A special thanks to Joe for pitching as a speaker at the last minute.

On Thursday, Chen Su and Phillipe Smith and Manual Hurtado, with Aon Fire Protection Engineering, began with an interesting discussion of hydraulic flow modeling for large industrial facilities. They described the tedious and inefficient “isolated path method”, used for years by fire protection field techs/engineers, and their new “open flow calibration method”. This newer method utilizes high tech equipment and common sense methods to obtain quicker and more useful results, and uncover any problems within a complex hydraulic system. The last presentation was by Adam Barowy, with UL, with a discussion of modern fire behavior. This historical perspective covered the evolution of residential building materials and contents and their effect on fire development. Much new research in this area has served to improve firefighting methods to make them safer and more efficient. UL’s Fire Service Research Institute is involved in that research and much information (including training modules) can be found on their website,

After the classroom instruction, the attendees toured UL areas related to fire testing. An excellent luncheon was provided each day.

Thanks again to the UL staff for sharing their facilities to us, and speakers for providing their time and quality instruction.