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

LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES: AN OVERVIEW OF RECENT RESEARCH AND FIRE TESTING
Andrew F. Blum, P.E., CFEI, Exponent, Inc.

10:30 am – 12:00 pm

FOAM TECHNOLOGIES
Mark Pillow, The Solberg Company

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Lunch

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

HIGH-RISE STANDPIPE SYSTEMS AND
NFPA 14 UPDATE
David Hague, Liberty Mutual Insurance

2:45 pm – 4:15 pm

TECHNICAL INTRODUCTION TO AN FSES
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

FIREWATER FLOW TESTING AND HYDRAULIC
MODELING FOR LARGE INDUSTRIAL FACILITIES
Mr. Chen Su P.E. & Mr. Philipe Smith,
Aon Fire Protection Engineering Corporation

10:30 am – 12:00 pm

MODERN FIRE BEHAVIOR
Adam Barowy, UL LLC

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Lunch

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, http://ulfirefightersafety.com/.

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.

September 2015 Pentair-Aurora Pump Tour and Luncheon Seminar

The Chicago SFPE chapter held a fire pump seminar and tour of Pentair on September 14, 2015 at their plant in North Aurora, IL. The seminar was graciously coordinated and hosted by Susan Kucera of Pentair. Leroy Franklin, Engineering Process Manager, Pentair, provided the instructional content in their spacious seminar space. The instructional outline was as follows:

NFPA 20 Format Overview & Definitions

Fire Pump Theory & Basic Design Concepts

General Requirements

Pump Placement & Sizing

Types of Fire Pumps & Drivers

Accessories

Troubleshooting

Factory Tour / Test Lab / Pump House / Pump Garage

Lunch

After the classroom instruction, the 54 (approximate) attendees were split up in three groups and each toured the plant facilities including, manufacturing areas, their model pump house (used for training), pump garage and their pump test lab facilities. A fire pump test was witnessed where the pump pressure v flow data points were taken per their protocol. A box luncheon was provided afterwards.

Thanks again to the Pentair staff for opening their facilities to us, and providing the instruction.

February Luncheon Seminar – Oil Tank Car Unit Trains

The Chicago SFPE chapter meeting on February 5, 2015, was held at the William Tell Holiday Inn in Countryside, IL. The speaker was Timothy Buffum, an investigator with the US DOT 2.5.15Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration, Central region. The meeting was originally planned for February 2, but the snowstorm forced cancellation and we were fortunate enough to quickly reschedule for this date. About 20 attended.

Tim gave an interesting presentation on the increasing use of oil tank car unit trains for transport of crude oil. The fracking industry has been responsible for this, as pipelines are not available as needed in key production areas. The concern has been for the high hazard potential of these unit trains, particularly with the low flash point crude from some of the Canadian areas; and the concern that many of these trains travel through the Chicago area. Several large incidents involving such trains have occurred in the last several years. Of particular note is the Lac-Maganti, Quebec incident (7/6/13), involving 74 tank cars derailed with 47 fatalities. However, the statistics indicate that while such unit train travel has increased, rail accidents have gone down 43%, and hazmat accidents have gone down 16%.

Industry actions to improve safety include speed restrictions, distributed power and operational constraints, rail inspection and maintenance, and emergency response assessment and training. Many regulatory alerts by the MSA and FRA have been issued with emergency orders and safety advisories. Proposed rulemaking is underway for new operational requirements, improved tank car standards (i.e. puncture resistance, thermal protection, etc.), braking improvements, speed restrictions for not meeting new requirements, sampling and testing of crude oil involved, etc.

A PowerPoint presentation is attached here.

November Luncheon Seminar – Protection of Exposed Expanded Plastics Stored in Racks; Fire Test Research

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The Chicago SFPE chapter meeting on November 10, 2014, was held at the New Line Tavern, 201 N Clinton Street in Chicago. The speaker was Dan Steppan with UL. Prior to Dans presentation, Carl Baldassara, SFPE International President and long-term member of our chapter, presented a brief update of the SFPE Strategic Plan.

Dan presented recent fire test research work conducted at UL in support of proposed changes to the 2016 edition of NFPA 13 to identify protection criteria of rack-stored exposed expanded Group A plastics. Exposed Expanded Group A Plastics, e.g. Styrofoam, create a significant challenge to a fire sprinkler system due to its extraordinarily quick growth and horizontal fire spread. The protection of these products stored in racks has not been addressed in NFPA 13 to date, due to its severe fire challenge and lack of supporting fire test data. Recent research work conducted at UL provided enough information to generate a proposed revision to NFPA 13 to allow protection criteria in the next edition.

A copy of the presentation can be found HERE. Key observations from the initial Test series, i.e. 1 through test 8, were:

– Exposed, expanded Group A plastics create a unique and substantial challenge to a fire sprinkler system due to the extraordinarily quick fire growth and horizontal flame travel potential.

– The sprinkler protection schemes investigated during this research initiative demonstrated the ability to control ceiling temperatures to a relatively low level (maximum one-minute average steel temperature was 134°F).

– Blocking of transverse flue spaces within the array created a challenging condition for sprinklers to attack the burning combustibles.

– Vertical barriers installed demonstrated ability mitigate horizontal fire travel within the array

The second draft meeting of the full discharge committee was held at the end of June 2013, which finalized their positions on the revisions to NFPA 13, including the following language:

Proposed Revisions to NFPA 13 in First Draft for 2016 Edition, Key Criteria in a New Section in Chapter 17 for the Protection of Rack Stored Exposed, Expanded Plastics:

– Maximum storage height = 35 ft.

– Maximum ceiling height = 40 ft

– Minimum aisle width = 8 ft.

– Nominal K=25.2 Pendent ESFR intermediate temperature rated sprinklers

– Minimum design pressure = 60 psi

– Design area = 12 sprinklers (4 sprinklers on each of 3 branch lines)

– Minimum water duration = 60 minutes

– Minimum hose allowance = 250 gpm

– Maximum vertical barrier distance = 16.5 ft.

– Vertical barrier material = 3/8 in plywood, 22 gauge steel or equivalent

– Maximum area between vertical barriers and aisles = 124 ft2

– Vertical barrier to extend across longitudinal aisle to top of storage

– Commodity permitted to extend 4 inches beyond vertical barrier at aisle

The FPRF Technical Panel then met and decided to fund test 9 and 10 as an attempt to look at a reduction in discharge pressure for a reduction in ceiling height. 30 psig flowing pressure for a maximum ceiling height of 30 ft. was selected to test.

Tests were both successful in that it both had 7 operating sprinklers, keeping intact the 12 sprinkler design criteria. (A 1.5X safety factor is required in accordance with paragraph 21.1.8 of NFPA 13, 2013 Edition).

A complete FPRF Report can be found at www.nfpa.org/foundation

(submitted by K. Mniszewski, 11/18/14)

October Luncheon Seminar – Condensed Aerosol Fire Suppression Systems

The Chicago SFPE chapter meeting on October 13, 2014, was held at the Parthenon, at 314 S. Halsted in Chicago. The speaker was George Ciottone, Senior VP Sales North America, for Fireaway, Inc.

George gave a very fascinating overview of Condensed Aerosol Fire Suppression Systems, designed and listed t the requirements of NFPA 2010, Standard for Fixed Aerosol Fire-Extinguishing Systems (first published edition in 2006). This space age technology was recognized on the US EPA SNAP list as a Halon 1301 replacement system as early as 1995, however this highly effective and environmentally friendly fire suppression technology still remains little-known by the fire protection industry today. In 2008, UL published UL subject 2775 (now a standard), to category FWSA Fixed Condensed Aerosol Fire Extinguishing System Units, and several listed systems are now available on the market.

His presentation described the technology, the mechanism by which it extinguishes flames (i.e. solid potassium nitrate+ other chemicals reacting to produce nitrogen, potassium carbonate, water and potassium ions), brief list of performance and qualification fire tests conducted by independent laboratories and agencies and an overview of special hazard applications where this type of system is in actual use. By the end of the presentation, participants had an appreciation of the technical and economic benefits of the technology compared to current fire suppression technologies and an understanding of why and how this technology has the potential to revolutionize current fire protection practices based on gaseous and water-based flooding systems.

Go to the website, www.statx.com, for much more information on the subject as well as contact information.

September 2014 Luncheon Seminar – Nitrogen Inerting for Corrosion Control in Fire Sprinkler Systems

September 2014 Luncheon
The Chicago SFPE chapter meeting on September 8, 2014, was held at the Parthenon, at 314 S. Halsted in Chicago. The speaker was Jeff Kochelek, Chief Executive Officer with Engineered Corrosion Solutions.

Jeff gave a very interesting and detailed presentation with an overview of various assessment parameters used to manage and control corrosion-related risk in water-based fire sprinkler systems. He reviewed, the process to identify and recognize likely locations for corrosion to occur; reviewed the options for corrosion control; described Wet Pipe Nitrogen Inerting (WPNI) process, and Dry Pipe Nitrogen Inerting (DPNI) process.

A large part of Jeffs discussion was on the 6 myths regarding corrosion in fire sprinkler systems. These are listed below with a short description see the ECS website for more complete details:

  • Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion is the primary cause of pin-hole leaks in fire sprinkler systems. Oxygen gas is the primary cause as it removes metal from the pipe walls and creates insoluble by-products. Bacteria is always present but there is little correlation between the level of contamination and corrosion related leaks.
  • Galvanized Steel Piping Performs Better than Black Steel in Preventing Corrosion in Dry Systems.Galvanized piping in dry pipe systems can begin leaking 3-4X faster than black steel piping under similar conditions and costs more. Corrosion is very localized, as compared to black steel piping which is more dispersed.
  • Once a Fire Sprinkler System Starts to Have Frequent Pin-Hole Leaks, It Must be Replaced to Stop the Leaks.
  • Bad Water Causes Fire Sprinkler System Leaks.When systems are replaced, it is usually found that only 20% of the piping is significantly damaged by corrosion. Its more cost effect to remove the damaged piping and institute a comprehensive corrosion management system.
  • Pipe Material Defect Causes Weld Seam Failures.Almost all fire supply water comes from municipal sources is for the most part very fresh and clean. Water chemistry does vary but in general it is the introduction of oxygen into the piping that causes increased leaking, not the quality of the supply water.
  • The Quality of Fire Sprinkler Piping and Fittings Has Declined.Failed piping that shows evidence of material defect from the manufacturer is very rare. Corrosion at weld seams is often recognized as the cause of leaks but is not the result of defective piping. When wet pipe systems are drained and refilled frequently they will develop more leaks. When pressure maintenance compressors run more frequently on dry and preaction systems they will develop more leaks. Removing the oxygen and preventing its introduction by inerting the systems with nitrogen can completely stop corrosion.
  • See the link for a more detailed discussion on this topic. Many of us attending found this presentation useful, as it helped demystify some aspects of sprinkler piping corrosion problems.

    Go to the website, www.ecscorrosion.com, for several white papers on the subject, product specification sheets, FAQs for General Fire Sprinkler Corrosion, FAQs for Wet Pipe Nitrogen Inerting (WPNI), FAQs for Dry Pipe Nitrogen Inerting (DPNI), Installation Schematics, Case Studies, etc.

    (submitted by K. Mniszewski)