Monday, April 24, 2017

Design Method for Aircraft Hangar Protection

NFPA 409, Standard on Aircraft Hangars defines hangar group classifications, construction features, and fire protection requirements for aircraft hangars. Group I and II hangars require foam and foam-water type systems.  The design the criteria for these is referenced in NFPA 409, Chapter 6. Determining the correct system design is essential to proper functioning of these systems.  In, Design of Special Hazard and Fire Alarm Systems, Robert Gagnon outlines a 12 step design method for aircraft hangar protection.

Step 1. Determine aircraft hangar group and select protection system type.
Each hangar group permits only specific types of fire protection systems designs. These options can include a foam-water deluge system, with underwing supplementary protection, automatic sprinkler with low-level foam, low-level high expansion foam, or a closed-head foam water system.

Step 2. Determine foam application time.

These times can vary based on the hangar group classification and foam systems utilized.
  • Low-expansion foam - 10 minute application time
  • High-expansion foam - 12 minute application time
  • Foam-water hand hose stations - 20 minute application time

Step 3. Determine system design density.

This will be based on the system coverage area, sprinkler spacing, type of foam used, and design density as outlined in the various component sections of NFPA 409:6.2.

Step 4. Estimate protection discharge rate.

Use the formula:
       D = (A) x (R)
D = foam solutions discharge rate, gpm
A= hangar floor area, square feet
R= application rate (from Step 3), gpm per square foot

Step 5. Estimate concentrate quantity for protection.

Use the formula:
    Q = (A) x (R) x (T) x (%)

Q= foam concentrate quantity, gallons
T= foam discharge time
% = concentrate percentage, decimal

Step 6. Determine aircraft wing area.  

Hangars that house aircraft having a wing area in excess of 3,000 sq.ft. are required to have supplementary under-wing protection. Without this under-wing protection the low-expansion foam system may be blocked from accessing the fire. The most common and effective supplementary under-wing protection is the use of oscillating monitors.

Step 7. Determine under-wing oscillating monitor location.

These should be located perpendicular to the fuselage to provide unobstructed protection beneath the wings.

Step 8. Determine oscillating monitor coverage area.

Monitors by different manufacturers will throw water in a certain radius and distance. When the radius is obtained the area of monitor coverage must be determined.  To determine coverage area use the following formula:
   Monitor area = [(3.1416) x (r2)] x (area of coverage/360)

Step 9. Apply oscillating monitor discharge time and application rate.

Discharge time is 10 minutes. Application rate is 0.10 gpm per square foot.

Step 10. Determine oscillating monitor discharge rate and concentrate quantity.

Use the formula:
   D = (A) x (R) x (N)
   Q = (A) x (R) x (N) x (T) x (%)

N = number of monitors installed

Step 11.  Determine supplementary hose discharge requirements.

A minimum of (2) hose lines at 60 gpm each for 20 minutes is required.

Step 12. Determine hose discharge rate and concentrate requirement.

Use the formula:
    D = (N) x (R)

    Q = (N) x (R) x (T) x (%)

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Fire Service Time Management [PODCAST]

Today's lean fire prevention organizations must function more effectively and efficiently than ever.  The key to achieving effectiveness and efficiency is time management. In his book, The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker provides a 3 step process for time management:
  1. Record time
  2. Manage time
  3. Consolidate time

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Time Management for the Fire Inspector

Today's lean fire prevention organizations must function more effectively and efficiently than ever.  The key to achieving effectiveness and efficiency is time management. NFPA 1730Standard on Organization and Deployment of Fire Prevention Inspection and Code Enforcement, Plan Review, Investigation, and Public Education Operations serves as a benchmark for the essential functions of a fire prevention organization or program.  Though, this standard requires only the essential items, even these can seem overwhelming to the understaffed, and overworked fire prevention organization. However, these, and much more, can be accomplished through the effective and efficient use of the inspectors time.  

In his book, The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker provides a 3 step process for time management:

  1. Record time
  2. Manage time
  3. Consolidate time
Time cannot be managed until it can first be found.  The first step toward time management is to record, track, and log how your time is currently being spent. The best way to accomplish this is through the use of a daily log. I always carry a notebook with me. I document every work task that I complete throughout the day. At the end of each day, I review where my time went that day and I prepare the next days schedule to determine where I want my time to go. At the end of each week I send out a an update e-mail on important projects and issues. This weekly activity provides another opportunity to review and evaluate where my time is being spent. At the end of each year I present all of our inspection data, numbers, and time to the department as bench-marking exercise.  Annually, our fire prevention personnel conduct a staffing/task analysis to determine what exactly is being done, how long it is taking to do, and if staffing levels are adequate. All these activities serve to ensure that our time is being used to its maximum potential.

After reviewing where our time is going, it must be managed. The best way to start managing your time is to diagnose and eliminate non-productive and wasteful activities. To determine if a task is non-productive, apply this 3 part 'diagnostic exam'.
  1. Does this activity need to be done at all? What would happen if it were never done again? 
  2. Can this activity be done by someone else? 
  3. Does this task waste other people's time?
Identify and eliminate those tasks that only serve to waste time and produce no results.  Only do the tasks that require you to do them, otherwise, delegate the task to others.  Eliminate those tasks that waste's others time, or find a more productive way to accomplish the goal, so that no ones time is wasted.

Finally, look at the time that you have and consolidate what is there.  This is commonly referred to as, "batching".  This is when you take the time available throughout the day, put that time together, and focus on specific task(s) completion.  It is best if this time can be uninterrupted.  Working in this manner is a more effective and efficient way of working than to jump from task to task, or working in spats of short time spans. For example, schedule all your plan reviews to be conducted on a certain day or portion of ("plan review day"), make one day your day for meetings, set aside a specific time to conduct inspections and stay within the geographical area. 

When considering time management for the fire inspector look to NFPA 1730. This standard provides a formula to determine the time requirements for common fire prevention tasks and demonstrates how to ensure that available time is being used most efficiently.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Agent Re-supply for ARFF Operations

How much fire extinguishing agent should an ARFF department have available? Is there a set amount of agent that is needed? What are some guidelines for determining agent quantity? 

NFPA 402, Guide for Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Operations, acknowledges that it would be impractical to keep a stock of extinguishing agent on hand for the worst case scenario.  To mitigate any issue of an extinguishing agent shortage, pre-arrangements should be made.  Pre-fire plans and mutual aid agreements should detail the expectations for additional agencies to provide aid in the form of bringing additional agent to the scene.  Support should be requested early in an incident.

The initial water supply on a piece of apparatus should be assumed to be used up within 5 minutes of the incident. Based on the fact that ARFF apparatus carry enough agent (foam) for at least 1 water refill, NFPA 403, Standard for Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting at Airports requires 100% refill capability within the critical rescue and firefighting access area.

The critical rescue and firefighting access area is a rectangular area extending 500 feet out from the centerline of the runway, and 3,300 feet beyond each end of the runway. It is within this space that most aircraft accidents are expected to occur.

To determine the 100% capability a needs analysis must be conducted. All water sources and refill capabilities should be assessed. Recommendations for meeting the 100% refill requirements should be made.  These recommendations may include water sources from:

  • Tankers or structural equipment
  • Hydrants
  • Mutual aid agreements
The critical concern is that water is available to provide continuous attack to the fire until extinguished.

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Six Presentation Strategies for Achieving Buy-In (Part 3)

This is Part 3 of a 7 part series collectively titled, McKinsey Method for Fire Protection Solutions. As you read keep in mind that these systems and processes can be applied to  fire protection organization and leadership, and to physical fire protection systems and components.

Even more challenging than creating a problem solution, is communicating that solution and having it accepted for implementation.  The solution presentation has to be structured in such a way that it can be communicated clearly and concisely.  The problem solution must be presented so that it is understood, and generates buy-in from necessary stakeholders and decision makers. Effective communication skills are key to this process.  

Management consultants are the experts in communicating solutions and achieving buy-in.  These skills are critical to their success. Studying and applying the strategies of the firms can enable fire service professionals to effectively communicate solutions to fire protection problems, or gain buy-in from community stakeholders for fire department initiatives.

To effectively present strategies that achieve buy-in, there are 6 steps that should be followed:
  1. Pre-wire the presentation.
  2. Know your audience.
  3. Outline and structure the presentation.
  4. Start with the conclusion.
  5. Make wise use of visual aids.
  6. Document sources.

Pre-wire the presentation.  Management consulting firm, McKinsey & Co. coined the term pre-wiring.  This is the process of taking your audience through the solutions before engaging in a formal presentation.  Pre-wiring the audience will help to avoid any surprises or unknown factors. The problem solution and recommendations should be sent out to the key decision-makers and stakeholders. From the comments and feedback a firm foundations for a successful presentation can be established. This pre-wiring process allows the presenter to:
  • Address major objections prior to the presentation
  • Build consensus in support of the solution
  • Understand audience mindset
  • Gauge reality and feasibility of findings

Know your audience. Any presentation should be custom tailored for the individuals that buy-in must be achieved from. The more that can be known about the audience the greater the chances of success. It is important to know the background, preferences, and communication style of the audience.
Different personalities require different presentation methods.  Does the audience prefer formal communication and presentations, or is a more informal approach acceptable? Is a large presentation in a boardroom required, or is a more intimate discussion most appropriate? Will the audience react better to a text based presentation, or an audio visual  show? Is a lecture based, question and answer, or hands-on format the best option?

Outline and structure the presentation. Any presentation should be structured in logical, clear, and easy-to-follow steps. The problem-solving framework used to reach the hypothesis (see the post, How to Analyze Fire Protection Problems) creates a natural outline for solution presentation. The exhibits used to establish the problem solutions can be compiled and plugged into place in the presentation.

Start with the conclusion.  State the problem solution and benefits in the first slide. Each point of the solution and benefits will make up a section of the presentation.  This method is referred to as inductive reasoning, and can be stated as, “We believe X because of A, B, and C.”

Make wise use of visual aids. There is seemingly no limitation to what can constitute a visual aid. These can  include charts and graphs, scaled models, product samples, and the list could go on.  When creating the presentation all options should be considered. Utilize the visual aid that will have the most impact on the decision-maker. When referencing charts or graphs in a presentation, only one message per chart should be conveyed, and the chart should be easy to read or have the pertinent information highlighted.

Document sources. Documenting all sources of data and information will provide direction for answering questions that may arise.  The referenced documents can serve as an authority outside of just the presenter.  Keeping track of the references and sources can prove useful for future projects.

Applying these six steps to any presentation will go a long way in ensuring successful buy-in.  No matter what process or presentation methods are utilized there is never any substitute for preparation.  The presenter must know the material and fully grasp the concept to be presented. Practicing the presentation multiple times will add to the natural flow of information.  Individuals who are regularly tasked with presenting ideas and solutions should continuously work and study the craft of communication.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

What is Annular Space?

This post provided by Sharron Halpert at Halpert Life Safety Consulting

ANNULAR SPACE- This is a term used only in a discussion of through penetration firestop not in rated joints. It is basically the gap. More specifically it is the distance from the inside edge of the opening to the outside edge of the penetrating item. It is actually a critical and often overlooked part of a firestop assembly.
When measuring the annular space, sometimes it gives a “nominal” measurement. If the detail says nominal ½”, then the tested and listed detail expects the field condition to have a pipe that is centered in the opening. That can happen, and it snows in Las Vegas…sometimes. More often the annular space will offer parameters defined by a minimum and maximum annular space. If the annular space lists 0” to 1” this means that the penetrating item does not need to be centered in the hole. It also means that its okay if the penetrating item makes contact on one side.
This does NOT mean that when an electrician runs a 1” conduit, they can use a 1” hole saw. Some contractors see the 0”-1” and think that the pipe can squeeze into the opening and the firestop contractor can firestop the application. This happens all the time, but that doesn’t make it right. It only makes it common.
When the opening is just barely big enough to allow the pipe through, this creates a condition known as CONTINUAL POINT CONTACT. Another time this can occur is when a 6” sleeve is run for a 4” pipe that will have 1” insulation on it. There is enough room to get everything through the sleeve, but there will not be enough room to install the firestop detail that should have been submitted.
There are very few tested and listed systems that allow CONTINUAL point of contact for a bare metal pipe, let alone for a combustible penetration such as insulation or even plastic. This gap is critical to the proper performance of the firestop assembly. If the tested and listed detail calls for 0”-1” then it assumes there will be some space into which the sealant can be installed. For a typical 1-hour gypsum wall the required sealant thickness will likely be 5/8”. If there isn’t at least ¼” gap, then the sealant depth cannot be achieved. This is critical to the performance of the firestop installation.  We will go into this in depth, but for now we are not finished with the discussion about annular space. How do you measure it?
If there is a square duct in a square hole, measuring the annular space is pretty simple. If it is a round pipe in a round hole, its simple again. What about when you have a round pipe in a square hole? Do you measure to the longest distance, which would be to the corner or do you measure from the edge? According to UL, the measurements should be made to the edge, so basically at a 90-degree angle from the edge of the opening to the side of the pipe.
That covers annular space pretty well for now, but there is more to consider. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to us and we are happy to help if we can. Next up we will talk about the hose stream test. This will help clarify why the annular space is such an important element to verify during a firestop inspection. You will know how a continual point contact installation will likely fail and much, much more. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about firestop. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

4 Components of a Service Delivery Evaluation

def., the simultaneous occurrence of events or circumstances

As communities grow and housing developments expand, they can outgrow the local municipalities ability to provide efficient and effective emergency response, fire protection, and life safety services. To address this issue NFPA 1, Chapter 15, Fire Department Service Delivery Concurrency Evaluation provides guidance and authority to the AHJ to ensure that an adequate level of service is maintained.  

This section identifies several expectations that must be met by both, the developer, and the fire department. Only those developments that increase the fire department service area population or building square footage by more than 1% can require a fire department concurrency evaluation.  This suggests that the department should have some form of community risk assessment (which would include an analysis of total building stock and square footage) available.  Otherwise, the 1% increase may not be able to be proved.

The concurrency evaluation can be conducted by those individuals that the AHJ determines to be qualified.  These qualifications may come through experience, education, or other special knowledge. There are four components that the evaluation must include.

Component 1. The current level of fire protection, life safety, and fire prevention services must be clearly stated and demonstrated.

Component 2. The predicted post-development fire protection, life safety, and fire prevention service impacts must be shown. Any additional staffing, facilities, and resources required should be clearly stated and provided for in the evaluation.

Component 3. The post-development level of service may fall below current level of service and be accepted if their is a mitigation plan in place.  All recommendations and mitigation plans are to be included in the evaluation.

Component 4.  The funding sources and methods to pay the costs of the mitigation recommendations is to be clearly shown.

The concurrency evaluation is conducted at the expense of the developer. The development cannot proceed until the required concurrency evaluation has been conducted and approved by the AHJ.

Multiple tools, resources, and skills are required by the evaluator. A community risk assessment or community risk reduction plan is important for providing a current picture of a communities population, properties, and fire protection and life safety services and programs. Using a blend of data and business analytics tools, accurate post-development predictions and service impacts can be forecast. The most current editions of NFPA 1710, 1720, and 1730 outline minimum services to provide and the staffing levels required to provide those services.

Monday, March 13, 2017

How to Analyze Fire Protection Problems (Part 2)

An essential quality of any management consultant is the ability to solve problems in a structured, hypothesis-driven manner.  The 4-step process used by McKinsey & Co. to solve management problems can be applied to analyze and find solutions to physical fire protection system and component design and problems.

Step 1. Frame the problem. McKinsey employs the acronym ‘MECE’ to form a framework and structure for problem-solving.  MECE stands for ‘mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive’.  To properly frame a problem it must be separated into distinct, overlapping issues, while making sure that no issue relevant to the problem has been overlooked. Structure and frameworks help to ensure that no part of the problem is missed. Management consultants apply a logic tree to visually depict this framework, however, using a framework  common to our industry can be more productive.  A common framework within the fire service would be the ICS (incident command system) structure.
For fire protection problem solving these components may look like this:

INCIDENT COMMAND - Issue or problem statement; design criteria/need
OPERATIONS - How is this system supposed to function? How does the system actually function?
PLANNING - How is the system designed? Is the design appropriate for the hazard?
LOGISTICS - What system components or resources are required for effective operation?
FINANCE - What costs are involved in this system installation, testing, or maintenance?

Utilizing a problem-solving framework a hypothesis can then be formed. The hypothesis can provide a problem-solving roadmap that will lead to the asking the right questions. The authors of, The McKinsey Mind state that it is “more efficient to analyze the facts of a problem with the intent of proving or disproving a hypothesis than to analyze those facts one by one to determine which answer they will eventually provide”.  An initial hypotheses can be formed by drawing conclusions based on the limited facts known. Brainstorming with a team can be helpful for developing and testing a hypothesis and forming new ideas.  The goal should be to get to the root of the problem, not just address issue symptoms.  

Step 2. Design the analyses. From the initial problem-solving framework determine what factors most affect the problem, and focus on those. Take a “big picture” view and resist the onslaught of tunnel vision.  Ensure the focus area is moving in the right direction, toward the goal of problem resolution. Do not over-analyze.  Do just enough to prove (or disprove) the hypothesis, then move on.

Step 3. Gather the data.  To this point we have been brainstorming and creating hypothesis based on “general information” and the problem framework.  When a logical analysis has been designed, data to support that must be collected.  There are 3 primary methods of data gathering:
  1. Research - reports, documentation, outliers, and best practices
  2. Interviews - pulling out information from those most intimate with the problem or need
  3. Knowledge management (KM) - reaching out to experts, networks, and groups

Step 4. Interpret the results. This should be a culmination of the hard work that was done in the previous three steps. This is the time to sift through and organize all the data that has been collected. If the problem has been properly framed, an analyses based on factors most affecting the problem has been designed, and thorough data has been gathered the problem solution will often present itself.

This is Part 2 of a 7 part series collectively titled, McKinsey Method for Fire Protection Solutions. As you read keep in mind that these systems and processes can be applied to  fire protection organization and leadership, and to physical fire protection systems and components.