Every jurisdiction has fire protection codes and requirements for new construction and remodels. Many require only that you follow the International Fire Code and have signed sealed hydraulic calculations, but others have their own requirements.
Alternatives in Engineering can help you with signed sealed hydraulic calculations and any unique requirements a jurisdiction can throw at us.
Here are some examples of unique requirements around the country:
City of Austin Fire Protection Rule requires the following:
For hydrant flow calculations, follow Appendix B of 2012 IFC but limit reduction of fire flow to 50% for certain building types
Accepted “C” values for calculations are 110 for PVC & Copper 80 otherwise
Austin Water also requires General Construction Notes and project information on drawings.
While seemingly a small part of the overall scope of a large development, accurate water testing and modeling of infrastructure to support new development is critical to ensuring adequate water supplies are available without excessive costs.
A complete water supply analysis for a new development consists of three critical parts, testing and analysis of the pubic supplies, accurate estimations of the water needs of the development, and proper modeling of the water infrastructure associated with the development.
Determining the capacity of the existing water system
The first step is to determine the capacity of the public supplies. This generally begins with obtaining flow test data. Performing a hydrant flow test is a relatively simple procedure, and many jurisdictions will provide this information for free or for a minimal charge, but often this low-cost option comes with a hidden expense. Many of the public personnel that perform flow testing on their system fail to understand the importance of the flow test data, tests are performed on the incorrect hydrants, an inadequate amount of water is flowed compounding errors, and the accuracy of these tests is often of concern as low cost, or poorly calibrated gauges are commonly utilized. Continue reading “What You Need to Know: Water Supplies for New Development” »
101 Years Ago Today
Today marks 101 years since the deadliest fire in our hometown city, St. Louis. The quick-spreading fire killed 30 men and destroyed the seven-story Boatmen’s Bank building at Washington Avenue and Fourth Street. Boatmen’s Bank built the building in 1890 and had offices on the first floor. The rest of the building was occupied by the Missouri Athletic Club (MAC), founded in 1903. The men’s club remodeled to house dining and meeting spaces, a gym and swimming pool, a Turkish bath, barber shop, bar, and an area of small sleeping rooms, all made of wood, for 97 members and guests on the fifth and sixth floors. Most of the victims of the fire were trapped there or died trying to escape. About 90 members, guests, and employees were in the building at the time of the fire, though the desk registry was destroyed so no one can be sure.
One Meridian Plaza Fire
Three Philadelphia firefighters lost their lives fighting the largest high-rise office building fire in modern American history at the Meridian Bank Building, also known as One Meridian Plaza. Twenty-four additional firefighters were injured. The fire extended from the 22nd up to the 30th floor, with an estimated $100 million in direct property damage. Twelve-alarms brought 51 engine companies and over 300 firefighters to the scene.
Construction on the 38-story Meridian Bank Building began in 1968 and was completed for occupancy in 1973. The building’s fire protection systems was upgraded around 1988. Manual pull fire alarms were replaced by automatic central station monitored alarms. The originally installed dry standpipe system was replaced with a wet system that was fed by Continue reading “On this Date in History: February 23, 1991” »
The purpose of fire inspections is to evaluate and minimize the risk of fires. In general, routine inspections are conducted on commercial, industrial, and apartment buildings to ensure that the appropriate fire safety requirements are being met. These inspections are vital for public safety. Fire inspectors usually inspect for some of the following:
Fire systems can be found in nearly every building because they are required in standard building codes. However, fire systems are not something that can be installed and then forgotten about. For example, fire sprinkler systems must have inspections, tests, and maintenance documented at least once per year and sometimes more often. Failing to do so could result in citations, fines, or an uncontrolled fire emergency.
Importance of Fire System Inspections
Periodic fire system inspections are important because they ensure safety by making sure the fire system would work properly during a fire emergency. There are fire sprinkler system inspection standards published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for building owners to reference. Many of their standards are recognized by the industry and used by local authorities to evaluate fire system installation, inspections, and tests. Continue reading “The Importance of Fire System Inspection and Documentation” »
The vast majority of fire protection systems utilized in buildings today rely partially or completely on the municipal water system to provide the water necessary to control or suppress the fire. While seemingly only a small part of the overall fire protection system, an understanding of how municipal water systems are operated, and what their limitations are, is vital to ensuring a reliable and functional fire protection system.
At the most basic level, water departments typically maintain their system pressure or hydraulic grade in one of two ways.
When designing a fire sprinkler system for any building, one of the first, and most important, steps is to analyze the water system in the area by having a fire hydrant flow test performed. Why is this so important? To work properly and control a fire, a sprinkler system must flow a certain amount of water with enough pressure to be effective. The entire design must be based upon how much water flow and pressure is available from the water system – if this information is not accurate, the design may fail and the fire will not be controlled!
Fire sprinklers were invented nearly two centuries ago in the mid 1800s. Even then, insurance companies recognized the value of fire sprinklers and provided incentives to building owners who had them installed.
Insurance companies know that fire sprinkler systems will substantially improve the safety of a building resulting in less money paid out for losses. Therefore, the discounts offered on insurance premiums have always been one of the considerations for offsetting the fire sprinkler system cost.