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



Factory Tour / Test Lab / Pump House / Pump Garage


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

(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,, 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,, 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)

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)