SFPE Chicago Chapter Spring Educational Seminar April 1-2, 2014 – A New Annual Event

On April 1 and 2, the Chicago SFPE Chapter hosted the first annual Spring Educational Seminar at Underwriters Laboratories (UL). The event brought together over 30 professionals and the SFPE International Board members. Five exceptional speakers Robin Zevotek (UL), James Golinveaux (Tyco), Daniel Madrzykowski (National Institute of Standards and Technology), Skip Donnell (Liberty Mutual Insurance), and Andrew Cox (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) presented on the latest issues impacting the fire protection engineering industry.

Zevotek started the seminar with Predictors for Detection of Cook Top Fires, by discussing recent research conducted by UL and the University of Maryland identifying precursors to stove top fires and how to most effectively utilize the precursors to provide early fire detection and prevent nuisance alarms. UL is currently conducting experiments to continue his work. Golinveaux followed Zevotek with Significant Advancements in Water-Based Fire Suppression for Storage Occupancies, and spoke about the advantages and disadvantage of using FM – based vs NFPA 13 based sprinkler system designs for storage occupancies. He showed some eye-opening examples of NFPA 13 – designed sprinkler systems (using density/area curve criteria) struggling to effectively suppress rack storage fires. In the afternoon, Madrzykowski presented Fire Dynamics in Structures and identified the need to depart from traditional firefighting tactics and embrace research backed tactics. New research and reviews of past incidents showed that commonly used ventilation and water application tactics can induce flashover in residential structures.

Wednesday morning began with Donnells presentation on photovoltaic panels, Photovoltaic Arrays. He spoke about the causes of PV panel fires, the necessity of proper installation and maintenance, and the challenges the panels pose for firefighters. He concluded by explaining the lessons learned from four costly fire losses involving PV panels, including the recent Dietz and Watson fire in southern New Jersey. The last presentation, Persistent Myth of Post-Flashover Fire Dynamics, centered on how compartment fire ventilation impacts burn patterns. Cox explained that it is a common assumption in fire investigation that the fire originated where the damage is most severe. But frequently, changes in ventilation can move the flame front many feet away from the origin and toward the vent, damaging the compartment near the vent more than near the origin. The seminar concluded with a tour of UL.

PDF’s of two of the slide presentations can be accessed below. When other approvals are obtained, these presentations also will be posted here.
Daniel Madrzykowski (National Institute of Standards and Technology)
James Golinveaux (Tyco)

The Chicago Chapter would like to thank the speakers for their time, UL for providing the venue and a tour of their facilities, and lastly the attendees for supporting this new venture. It is our intent to make the Spring Educational Event an annual event. Our goal is to provide a local opportunity to learn about and discuss emerging issues in fire protection and network with other professionals. We hope to develop the seminar over the next couple years to ultimately draw national attention to the seminar and to Chicago. Nine PDHs were provided to all attending engineers requesting them.

(submitted by Kelly Opert /Kim Mniszewski, 4/18/14)

14th Annual IFPA-SFPE Combined Fire Prevention Product Show – A Big Success

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The Annual Product Show done jointly with the Illinois Fire Prevention Association was a big success. Held on March 11th, at Medinah Banquets in Addison, the show featured two presentations by Cecil Bilbo on NFPA 13 Storage Updates and Hans Stewart on NFPA 20. The show format and layout was changed this year which was well received by both exhibitors and attendees. Instead of a sit-down buffet dinner in a separate room that attendees had to pay for, a selection of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres was set up in the exhibit space and free to all attendees. At over 125 registered attendees and 52 exhibitors, this was largest and most well attended show we have had in years. Thanks to all that made this a success!

A few photos from the event are shown above.

Two professional development classes were held prior to the show. They included:

  • Changes in the 2013 edition of NFPA 20, presented by Hans Stewart, director of Global _ for AC Pump Systems; presentation printouts are attached as IFSA0314.pdf.
  • NFPA 13, Changes to the Requirements for Storage Protection, 2013 edition, presented by Cecil Bilbo, Academy of Sprinkler Technology, Champaign, IL; presentation printouts are attached as (not available yet -will add when received)

(submitted by William Sedlak/Kim Mniszewski, 3/14/14).

February Luncheon Seminar – Fike Video Image Fire Detection

The Chicago SFPE chapter meeting on February 11, 2014, was held at the Parthenon, at 314 S. Halsted in Chicago. The speaker was Rick Jeffress, a Sale Manager with Fike.

Rick presented product updates and application news for the Fike video image fire detector. This is actually an IP (internet protocol) camera application that utilizes on- board video analytics to detect flame, smoke, reflected fire light and motion. An algorithm is for each mode is independently controlled and can be enabled/disabled based on the hazard or environment. The detection events are instantly reported to the Video Management System (VMS) over a standard Ethernet network connection and/or directly to any fire alarm system through onboard configurable relays. Spyderguard software detection/exclusion zones and alarm verification, combined with Signifires unique algorithm sensitivities, allow for endless configuration options to suit specific fire, smoke and intrusion detection requirements.

Application examples showed unique benefits for large and difficult facilities. Depending on the lens field-of-view used, the area of coverage can be as much as 7800-17000 sq ft per camera. Thus, a few cameras can cover a huge area.

Comparative testing (see article regarding Dan OConnors presentation in 11/10) with other fire detection technologies has shown that using UL test fires, this technology was 88% effective compared to a 100% using aspiration detectors.

A PowerPoint presentation (4MB pdf file) is available for your convenience in reviewing his entire presentation. Note that videos are not enabled in this rendition.

(submitted by K. Mniszewski, 2/19/14)

January 2014 Luncheon Seminar ”Power Surges – Their Causes and Effects in Residential Settings”

The Chicago SFPE chapter meeting on January 13, 2014, was held at the William Tell, Holiday Inn Countryside. The speaker was Paul McCoy, a consultant and former Senior Executive with Commonwealth Edison, and IIT graduate in electrical engineering.

Paul gave a fascinating presentation on the types of power surges that can occur in residential distribution systems, as caused by nature or the utility network. There was some discussion of lightning and its effects, but Paul focused mainly on problems with the utility network. There are a whole myriad of possible problems with the network, which may include those caused by switching, maintenance, regulation failures, etc. The most serious are those that involve extended high voltage, such as may result from momentary high voltage line contact with a lower voltage distribution line. Resulting damage can be extensive and include damage to appliance controls, HVAC controls/motors, contactors, exploding light bulbs, destroyed surge protectors, destroyed plug-in timers, sparking outlets, etc. Fires are certainly possible from these events, where light combustibles, e.g. drapes, etc.., are in the immediate area of failed components inside residential facilities. Paul gave some examples of surge damage from his own home town, Western Springs, IL.

Some devices such as a whole house surge protector can prevent damage from some of these events. Point-of-Use surge protectors are useful but are less effective.

A Powerpoint presentation is available here for your convenience in reviewing his entire presentation.

(submitted by K. Mniszewski, 1/20/14)

The Chicago SFPE chapter meeting on December 16th served a dual purpose. First, it was a holiday celebration at Maggiano’s in the River North area of Chicago (516 N. Clark Street). Delicious food was served. Memories were refreshed. Door prizes were awarded. It was a festive event for all who attended.

Second, this was the Annual Business Meeting of the Chapter, so elections were held. Nominees were Nick Ozog of RJA for President; Dan Fritz of XL for Vice President; Matt Humbrecht of Phoenix Fire for Treasurer; Kelly Opert of Liberty Mutual for Secretary. Terry Pintar of RJA for Past President; Amanda Beck of Primera and Josh Greene of RJA as Directors. The slate was elected unanimously by the quorum of Chapter membership present at the meeting.


Newly elected officers, from left to right: Dan Fritz, VP; Terry Pintar, past President; Nick Ozog, President; Matt Humbrecht, Treasurer; and Kelly Opert, Secretary


George Laverick,retiring from Underwriters Laboratories on February 28, 2014


Bert Cohn will be turning over his duties as Webmaster to John Mammoser in 2014

Terry Pintar also reviewed the 2013 accomplishments of the Chicago chapter. Prominent among those is winning the Gold chapter award (again) ranking the Chapter among the very best within all SFPE International chapters. Terry also reviewed the many Chapter activities during the year. One sad note was the recent passing of longtime Chapter member Bob Pikula to cancer.

It was announced that Longtime Chapter member George Laverick will retire after 40 years at UL in February 2014.

Bert Cohn was also recognized for his work as the Webmaster, as he will be turning over his duties to John Mammoser later this year. The Chapter thanks Bert for his many years of dedicated service.

Next up in 2014 is the annual Fire Service meeting at the William Tell restaurant in LaGrange IL. At that meeting, the Chapter will name its 2013 Finnegan and Freeman Award winners. See you there!

(writeup by Thomas Gray, photos by Joseph Talbert, edited & submitted by K. Mniszewski, 12/20/13)

13th Annual IFPA-SFPE Combined Fire Prevention Product Show

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Another great show showcasing one of the largest exhibitions of products services and related industrial components of the Fire Protection industry in the Chicagoland area was held on March 12, 2013. This included exhibits from Manufacturers, Fabricators, Distributors, Insurance Organizations, Educators, Engineering Companies and Fire Prevention Associations. The venue, the Medinah Banquets, in Addison, IL, was great as usual given its spacious and comfortable areas, together with its unique ambience. Thanks to all that made this a success!

A couple photos from the event are shown above. On the left, Cecil Bilbo gives his presentation on NFPA 13 Update. On the right, Joe Talbert chats with Kerry Bell at the UL exhibit.

Two professional development classes were held prior to the show. They included:

  • NFPA 25, A Focus on chapter 4 of NFPA 25 What Duties are Required of A Building Owner, presented by Richard Ray, Cybor Fire Protection, Downers Grove, IL; presentation printouts can be viewed here.
  • NFPA 13 Update (2013 edition), Cecil Bilbo, Academy of Sprinkler Technology, Champaign, IL; presentation printouts can be viewed here

November 12, 2013 Luncheon Seminar: Pointers and Potential Pitfalls – A Legal Perspective Regarding Expert Work

This months luncheon seminar was held at The Parthenon, located in Greek Town in Chicagos West Loop area.

Mindy Medley, and attorney with Clausen Miller, gave a very informative presentation for FPEs on work as an engineer and that of a testifying expert..

The presentation topics included:

First, in daily work as an engineer

  • Negligence law regarding engineers
  • An engineers standard of care
  • A heads up of potential pitfalls
  • Brief case study

Second, in work when retained as a testifying expert :

  • Law regarding expert standards Daubert, Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Frye
  • Protecting your reputation when serving as an expert
  • How to be best prepared when drafting reports and giving testimony
  • Why are experts excluded?

The details on these topics are to be found in her PowerPoint presentation here.

One interesting development pointed out by Mindy is that effective 1/1/14, a signature PE seal in the state of Illinois may be generated by computer per 225 ILCS 325/14 sec. 14 (see http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=022503250K14). (submitted by K. Mniszewski, 11/15/13)

October 21, 2013 Luncheon Seminar – Storage Sprinkler Applications

This months seminar luncheon was held at The Parthenon, located in Greek Town in Chicagos West Loop area. Turnout was good with several members of ASPE attending.

Ken Brown, Business Development Manager for Tyco Fire Protection Products, gave a great presentation on Storage Sprinkler Applications.

The presentation topics included:

  • A brief history of sprinkler technology; classification of sprinkler heads
  • A brief history of sprinkler technical committees and standards
  • Comparison of NFPA 13 and FM DS 2-0,8-9 standards

A major point of discussion was the need to use of equivalency when FM criteria is used, but NFPA criteria is the local code requirement.

A PDF of the PowerPoint presentation will be attached when it becomes available from the author, as many of the attendees have requested it.

(submitted by K. Mniszewski, 10/23/13)

February 25, 2013, Luncheon Seminar and Meeting

The February meeting was held Greek Islands Chicago. The food was great as usual.

The speaker was John Frank, Senior Vice President of the Loss Prevention Center of Excellence. The Loss Prevention Center of Excellence is responsible for global technical research and training for customers and Global Asset Protection Services associates, as well as standards development.

The topic was Supplying a Semi-Fixed Foam System, a Case Study. The study focused on bulk fuel storage tanks with semi-fixed foam system piping, and the use of Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) vehicles to supply those foam systems. Additional discussion involved the benefits and limitations of semi-fixed foam systems.

Semi-fixed systems in general are common in fire protection applications, e.g. dry standpipes with FD connections. NFPA 11 addresses the topic of semi-fixed foam systems.

Technical issues discussed mainly involved the use of ARFF vehicles for this application, which are not designed for it. Typical hydraulic calculations for the foam supply examples were presented. Suggestions for adapting ARFF vehicles for this purpose elsewhere were given. Johns PowerPoint presentation is available here.

(submitted by K. Mniszewski, 3/5/13)