What You Need to Know: Water System Operation

In the previous post we discussed the importance of accurate water supply analysis when looking at a new development.  In this post we will look at more details on public water systems, how they are designed and operated, and what impacts these have on the water supply available for a new development.

The public water system consists of all the components necessary to supply water to our homes and businesses.  This can include the raw water source, treatment system, storage tanks, pumps, piping and other components that deliver water to the customer.  While all these components are critical to delivering water; when looking at an existing water system’s ability to supply water for a future development, the most important aspect to understand is how the water provider maintains pressure on their system, as this typically has the biggest impact on the water supply for a new development.

At the most basic level, water departments typically maintain their system pressure or hydraulic grade in one of two ways.

The first and probably most common is with an elevated storage tank(s), commonly known as a water tower.  With this arrangement, the water system “floats” on the level of the water in the tank.  The tank elevation and the water level in the tank set the system pressure.  Pumps either at a water treatment plant, or a booster station are operated based on tank level.  When the level drops to a certain point, pumps are brought on line to refill the tank.   Larger systems with multiple pumps may bring on pumps in a staggered arrangement, with the first pump coming on at a certain water level and additional pumps brought on if the level in the tank continues to drop.  On some systems, the pumps deliver water directly to the tank; however it is more common that the pumps discharge into the distribution system which, when pumping capacity exceeds system demand, will fill the tank indirectly.  Appropriately, this method is called an indirect pumping arrangement. Continue reading “What You Need to Know: Water System Operation” »

It’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day! Check out what one of our engineers has to say about her engineering journey.

How to engage girls in STEM is a hot topic these days.  As a woman-owned and operated business; we feel it is important that we are part of the conversation. In honor of Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, I recently sat down with one of our engineers to discuss why she chose engineering and what suggestions she has for future engineers.

Nancy Epstein graduated from the University of MO-Rolla, now Missouri University of Science and Technology (S & T) in 2000 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. She has been part of the AIE team since 2015.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and passion for engineering, Nancy!

  1. First, can you explain a little about what you do at AIE?   When a developer or civil engineering firm is considering a building project, a sprinkler system is required.  This system usually has water flow and pressure requirements.  I work for a company that does the testing and calculations to determine if there will be sufficient water pressure at the site.  If there is not sufficient water, the project will require a fire pump and/or water tank.  Both items are very expensive and the developer will have to include those numbers in the project budget.   Our first step is to schedule a test with the city water or fire department.  Next, we do some research about the water lines around the site and determine where to test.  I travel to the site and meet with our contact and conduct the test.    When I return to the office, we do more research about the water system, then calculate and compile a report stating what water pressure and flow rate will be available at the site.  That way, the final occupant of the building will have third party confirmation that they will have what they need for fire protection at the end of the project.  
  1. What made you decide to go into engineering? When did you know you wanted to be an engineer?   As a kid I liked finding out how things work and I was obsessed with cars.   More practically, in high school English was not my thing.  I think I knew I wanted to be an engineer as a ninth grader.
  1. What were your favorite classes in grade school and high school?   I really liked science.  I had great HS Physics and Chemistry teachers.  Those were my favorites.  Orchestra was another favorite and I loved to read books.
  1. What was the ratio of women to men in your engineering program? (Assuming there were more men than women, what was that experience like?)   At University of Missouri at Rolla, there were five guys for every girl.  I think the odds were a little worse in Mechanical Engineering.  In one class, I was the only girl.  That’s just the way it was.  Generally, I wasn’t treated any differently at school.  It was good preparation for industry.  On the bright side, it was really easy to find a date.
  1. How many years have you worked in your field?   I have worked in engineering for eighteen years, quality control, manufacturing, and fire protection.
  1. Can you describe your typical day and your favorite thing about your day?   I’ll describe a typical week.  I spend about one day a week traveling and testing, then I spend the remainder of the week in the office doing calculations and research and generating a report from the test results.  I really enjoy traveling and testing outside.  Many of our jobs are in Florida and Texas, and it’s nice to go someplace warm in the winter.

Continue reading “It’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day! Check out what one of our engineers has to say about her engineering journey.” »

The Role of MIC in Fire Sprinkler System Corrosion

Thank you to our guest contributor, Lucas Kirn, with Engineered Corrosion Solutions (ECS). Stay tuned for more posts on the role of corrosion in sprinkler systems and also check out ECS’s Website http://ecscorrosion.com/ and Blog: http://ecscorrosion.com/category/blog/

Dry System with Galvanized Pipe Oxygen Corrosion Has Breached Zinc Layer and Attacked Base Black Steel (3)      Wet System with Black Steel Pipe Accumulation of Solids and Sludge due to Oxygen (3)

Picture on left: Wet System with Black Steel Pipe, Accumulation of Solids and Sludge due to Oxygen

Picture on right: Dry System with Galvanized Pipe, Oxygen Corrosion Has Breached Zinc Layer and Attacked Base Black Steel

The Role of MIC in Fire Sprinkler System Corrosion

You may have heard the term “MIC” used in reference to corrosion problems in fire sprinkler systems, as it has become synonymous with all general corrosion activity in sprinkler systems. MIC, which stands for microbiologically influenced corrosion, is a very specific type of corrosion caused by bacteria. Over the past several years many practitioners in the fire sprinkler industry have over-emphasized the role that bacteria play in causing corrosion in a fire sprinkler system while under-emphasizing the predominant role that oxygen plays in the corrosion that occurs in these systems. Continue reading “The Role of MIC in Fire Sprinkler System Corrosion” »

How to Choose a Fire Sprinkler System

Most people think that fire sprinkler systems are triggered by small amounts of smoke, but in fact, fire sprinkler systems are set off by intense heat, one sprinkler head at a time. Fire sprinkler systems have been designed to use the minimum amount of water required to do the job, saving you from costly water damage as well as the fire damage they are designed to stop.

Huge improvements have been made in fire sprinkler systems over the last 200 years. Early versions caused severe water damage, but modern fire sprinkler systems have reduced loss of property and deaths by a whopping 65%. Since each sprinkler head is triggered separately by a specific temperature, one or two sprinklers can contain a fire to the room where it started, minimizing property damage. Fire hoses use six times more Continue reading “How to Choose a Fire Sprinkler System” »

Fire Sprinkler Maintenance

Annual fire sprinkler maintenance is vital to ensure the effective operation of your system in the event of a fire.  If you aren’t sure when your last fire sprinkler maintenance took place, please contact AIE today to schedule an inspection.

Fire sprinkler maintenance is especially important for nightclubs, motels and factories, as those structures tend to have the highest death tolls caused by fires.

Proper maintenance support includes checking all fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and fire sprinkler systems throughout the building, including commercial kitchens.

Without proper fire sprinkler maintenance, you run the risk of damages caused by ineffective operation or operational failure of your sprinkler system. Continue reading “Fire Sprinkler Maintenance” »