Drew sits down with Joe Meyer of MeyerFire LLC. Joe has several ventures in fire protection design and has made a huge splash in the engineering world with his website MeyerFire.com.
Listen to the Audio
Background of Joe (2:55)
Going with a digital business model as an engineer (5:10)
Key to blogging (9:15)
MeyerFire tools (13:40)
Sprinkler selection tool (17:15)
Exam Prep (24:00)
BIM / Rivit (35:35)
Quick Response Round (40:15)
Discussed in this Episode: MeyerFire.com, CodeCalls.org
The aim of MeyerFire is to promote the practice by connecting and empowering professionals in and around the fire protection community. MeyerFire is committed to providing high-quality, highly visual educational content and resources unlike anywhere else in the fire protection industry. view website
About Joe Meyer
Joe Meyer is a licensed Fire Protection Engineer and author who has a passion for the industry. He owns his own practice focusing in fire suppression, fire alarm and life safety applications in St. Louis, Missouri.
He has published a leading Prep Guide for Fire Protection PE Exam and created the MeyerFire Toolkit, an all-inclusive collection of design tools specifically for fire sprinkler designers and engineers.
Drew Slocum: (00:10):
This is episode 22 of the Fire Protection Podcast, powered by Inspect Point. Today, my guest is Joe Meyer. Joe is a fire protection engineer. He’s an owner of, of Meyer Fire, llc. He has a lot of different hats. He’s involved heavily on the social side of things, uh, writing blogs, um, getting involved in exam prep. Uh, he has a, a new product called Cold Calls, which code calls, which is, uh, you can enter a jurisdiction and bring up everything that that AHJ requires in that jurisdiction. So, pretty cool stuff. Uh, we get into a lot of, uh, more fire protection engineering topics, what he’s doing, what he’s seen, and he’s made a big, big impact, um, uh, via meyer fire.com. He has a lot of, uh, guests on there. And, um, yeah, great to talk to Joe, get, uh, an engineer’s perspective on what’s happening, uh, with fire protection and where we see it going forward.
So, uh, hope you enjoy and please subscribe to the podcast. A little update on the inspect point side of life, um, in August, inspect points plan to release two large features, uh, one being the iPhone. Uh, the whole platform will be available on the iPhone now. Uh, and even bigger than that, we have our service and work order platform, uh, going live. Uh, there’s been a bunch of, uh, beta testers over the last, uh, three to six months, and we’ve gotten rave of views. So, uh, pretty cool stuff. So stay in tune and yeah, please subscribe to the podcast. Enjoy so much
Joe Meyer: (01:52):
Drew Slocum: (01:53):
Joe Meyer: (01:55):
That’s fine. Now, Chris, Chris did ask one time, he’s like, you know, it’d be great if, uh, we just had you on, I asked you like 20 technical questions and get your, get your thought on, uh, a whole bunch of design topics. I was like, you know, that is like terrifying <laugh>. It’s like, as, as an engineer, uh, that would be like my worst nightmare is, uh, coming in unprepared, not knowing what questions are gonna be asked, technical, technical questions being asked, and then being put on the spot with an, with a large audience. I was like, absolutely not. I <laugh>.
Drew Slocum: (02:26):
Yeah, I know. And, and then, uh, everything’s documented at that point.
Joe Meyer: (02:31):
<laugh>. Exactly. You know, they’re gonna be listening like, wow, this guy’s an idiot. I just looked into that yesterday, you know, and, and he’s completely wrong. Yeah,
Drew Slocum: (02:37):
Joe Meyer: (02:38):
Drew Slocum: (02:39):
Oh, good stuff. Um, so yeah, let’s just kick it off. We got, uh, uh, on the podcast today, we’ve got, uh, Joe Meyer, uh, Meyer, not Mayer, right?
Joe Meyer: (02:51):
Drew Slocum: (02:51):
That’s right. Meyer. He’s, he’s a professional engineer. He owns his own, uh, uh, um, fire protection engineering firm called Meyer Fire. Uh, I know you have a, a couple other avenues as well that you kind of get into. Um, I’ll let you give a welcome to the podcast. I’d love you get, let, let you give a, a couple little minutes on talking about what you’re doing.
Joe Meyer: (03:12):
Well, thanks, drew. Yeah, I’m a big fan. So, uh, I’ve got my hand and a, and a few different pots. Uh, first, like you said, is the consulting practice. I’m a independent fire protection engineer. I started my own, uh, practice last fall in October, 2019. And so I’ve been, uh, doing most mostly shop drawing design, uh, sprinkler and, and stamp pipe work for, uh, smaller fire sprinkler contractors. And that’s about 80% of my work. Uh, I also run and, and write, uh, email@example.com. And, uh, that’s, that’s grown into, uh, a pretty, uh, big website. You know, there’s, there’s a decent following there, but that I cover weekly articles there. I’ve got a forum, uh, that’s, uh, covers fire protection topics where people can post questions and, and there’s a lot of experts that are way more knowledgeable than I am, uh, on there. So that’s a, that’s a great avenue. That’s, that’s grown past few years. And, uh, really the last piece is I, I offer PE exam prep for the fire protection space, and a, uh, the small software package. That’s kind of the quick hitting tools that I use when I’m designing. And that’s, that’s on that Meyer fire site as well.
Drew Slocum: (04:27):
Nice. Yeah, I’ve been, I’ve been digging into it the last few days and, um, I, I’ve been on it before. I I’m very intrigued in your blog. You know, when, when I, when, you know, previous to this, I, I worked for Viking in Tyco, so heavily involved with a lot more of the fire protection engineers from the design aspects. Um, but every time I, I’m trying to think of back to then and, and, and dealing with fire protection engineers on design, I, none of them were really as digital, digital savvy. I don’t know how, how you want us to call it, but nobody was really blogging. So, uh, it, it’s, it’s refreshing to see that and hopefully there’s definitely more that, um, coming, uh, why, yeah, why did, why did you decide to go so much dig so digital, I guess Yeah. In your business?
Joe Meyer: (05:19):
Yeah. Well, uh, uh, first off, from from, you know, engineers, we are naturally tend to be risk averse. And, uh, we’re, we’re morbidly afraid of, you know, liability. And that’s, that’s part of the engineering practice is taking responsibility for design and, uh, you know, really owning design professionally. And so I think there’s, there’s a natural barrier to writing content online. And, and that’s, engineers don’t want to be wrong. And when you publish something, uh, it’s, if you are wrong, it’s not a, a one client conversation, you know, in a meeting room where a project goes bad and you gotta make fixes and, and pay for it. Uh, but when you publish it, you know, you make a mistake and it’s broadcast to 5,000 people saying, Hey, I, I, you know, I’m the moron. And so I think there’s, there’s a natural barrier to, uh, to publishing and, and especially blogging where it’s a, a more casual atmosphere, uh, for engineers.
And that’s, that’s kind of what I was trying to get past and breakthrough at least initially, is, you know, I, I, I’ve always felt that fire protection is just, it’s really interesting, but it’s also really important, you know, we’re in the business of life safety, and in some respects, we gotta get past that barrier for, uh, for knowledge sharing, just cuz the, the content’s too important. So when I, when I started writing, it was really about, here’s lessons I’ve learned the hard way. Here’s things that, uh, I’ve, we’ve had to fix on jobs, or I got wrong and, or, or things that I’ve researched heavily. And, uh, there’s not a lot of great content. So here it is, here’s, here’s, you know, in the weeds from a designer engineer perspective on some of these issues. And, um, you know, initially I was, I was really just writing to maybe 10 people, five of which, you know, were my mom under different email addresss, right?
But <laugh> and, you know, it was like, you know, a new subscriber a month or two new, you know, if I got two in a week, I was over the moon. And so it was, you know, it was, it was, in some respects, it was a very limited space. And I, I, it wasn’t a whole lot that I could get wrong. And, and it is just, you know, I started writing and, and getting a little bit better and getting a little bit of feedback on, Hey, we like these articles. We hate these articles. And so, uh, you know, trying to steer in the right direction. And it’s, it’s grown. I mean, it’s, I’ve been, I guess I’ve been writing consistently now for maybe a couple, maybe two, three years. And, uh, it’s a large audience. It’s a very engaged audience too. But that’s, that’s how, you know, that’s how we know fire protection people to be, you’re very engaged and very passionate.
They are about getting things right. So, yeah, I, I do see, uh, blogging as, uh, growing. Uh, you know, the more, uh, millennials get confidence and, uh, you kind of move up the chain of command, I do see that becoming more popular. It’s already become more popular. Uh, you know, Chris Campbell with the Building code blog, he started earlier this year, and that’s been like a raging success right out of the gate. So, um, that’s, and that’s at Building Code Blog, www building code do blog. Um, there’s, uh, you know, there’s you with the podcast, Chris Logan’s doing the podcast. Aaron Johnson, I don’t think he’s a, a fire protection engineer, but he writes on the building code. Yeah, yeah, I know him. Uh, yeah. And so I, there’s, you know, there’s more and more of that that’s, that’s, you know, cropping up. And I, I, I do see that as a, a growing trend and, and a really good thing for the fire protection space.
Drew Slocum: (08:50):
No, no, I agree. You’re getting, you’re getting information out there and especially, you know, with what’s going on now, uh, it kind of fits even better because, you know, people are communicating more virtually. So, um, you know, I, I’ve, we, we have our blog and I’ve, I’ve tossed in a couple, I had never done it really, I had never done it until I came to Inspect Point. But it, it’s pretty, in informal, it’s kind of what you believe in and what you, what you’ve learned over the years. So it’s, uh, the tough part is just, I don’t know how you do it every few days. <laugh> <laugh>. It’s time consuming.
Joe Meyer: (09:29):
It is, it is. And, uh, it, you know, some, some of those posts are right, and, and some of them are, you know, cheat sheets or tools or, uh, excuse me, I, I’m, uh, I’m in quarantine with the dog she spends the day.
Drew Slocum: (09:42):
Ah, that’s alright.
Joe Meyer: (09:42):
Right. That wasn’t me growling and there wasn’t my stomach.
Drew Slocum: (09:45):
Yeah. Lunchtime. Yeah, <laugh>
Joe Meyer: (09:47):
Haven’t used that one before. Um, but yeah, consistency is really tough and that’s really key when it comes to blogging. Uh, you know, some of the posts I write will take six to eight hours between doing the research, uh, putting it down, working on the visuals, and then publishing it. You know, some of ’em that are, that are a little more casual, you know, may only be a couple hours a week. But, uh, that was, that was really honestly part of me making the jump to, uh, doing my own practice is that more time to be able to write for that audience. So it is, it is tough and it’s, you know, some weeks more than others, it’s, it’s kind of a grind to make sure that I’m getting content out and not just content as you know, but actually useful, helpful content Sure. That, uh, you know, that the users are interested in. Cuz if it’s, if it’s not helpful in some ways, then I feel, you know, I feel like I’m just, you’re
Drew Slocum: (10:35):
Gonna lose it. Yeah. You lose subscribers.
Joe Meyer: (10:38):
Yeah. I’m like the, the blonde hairball behind me that just mark it, you know, it’s, it’s not, not really what I want to be. So,
Drew Slocum: (10:44):
So, so the other, uh, you got the blog, but, um, I’ve signed up for the, the daily and the weekly. Um, is that, that’s not a blog, that’s just, um, is that more of a forum?
Joe Meyer: (10:55):
It is, it is. It’s, it’s, it’s kind of a curated, um, space for people to post questions and anonymously. So, uh, there, there’s that exist, uh, A F S A, I believe N F S A, uh, have their own sprinkler forums. There’s email forms out there, there’s Reddit, there’s Facebook groups, uh, those are all N F P A has an exchange, uh, where you can post questions. There’s, there’s lots of formats that exist to kinda share knowledge and ask questions. Uh, I was repeatedly seeing for a period of time that those, those formats can either be overwhelmed with questions or, uh, the content that the actual questions asked can range from super specific, highly complex topics that, you know, really need expert opinions to the very, very basic of need to know if I have, uh, if I’ve need to know if I need a pump.
This isn’t an FPA 13 system and it, and you’re like, time out. Like there’s a lot to cover in just that one, one topic. So, yeah. Uh, what I did with the, the Daily Forum is it’s a space where you can ask a very basic question to a very complex question. The audience is there, they’re engaged, and they’re, they’re have way more expertise than, than I do. Sure. Which is great. But I’m curating the questions and, uh, posting it anonymously. So if somebody is entry level, they don’t need to be Oh yeah. At the stake for asking a bad question. But at the same time, um, you know, that’s out there for everybody to discuss and there’s only one question in a day, and it’s very intentional. So it’s, in some ways, it’s, everybody can learn something from that discussion in exchange without, you know, throwing bill under the bus because he, you know, ask, ask a terrible question.
Drew Slocum: (12:45):
Right. No, it’s, it’s, I like it. I’ve been, I’ve been, it’s mostly designed, so I was like, oh, you got any inspection stuff in here? And there’s a couple things here or there, but it’s mostly, yeah, mostly design. Um, yeah, I like your little leader leaderboard as well. That’s, uh, <laugh>. Yeah, yeah. Was posted and everything, but, um, no, that’s great. Yeah, I think, I think it’s very valuable to the industry. Um, hopefully some, you get some more, uh, people subscribing from this, you know, you’ve got a lot of tools on there. Um, I am interested in the, um, you know, the, the software calc tools, um, yeah. Uh, what was the one I was looking at the fire pump analyzer. What was that one? Yeah. Where did I, I guess I, you know, you have a bunch of tools in here to, or, you know, for flow calculations and um, uh, structural bracing and all that. But the, what, I guess, what’s the most used one out there? Do you,
Joe Meyer: (13:44):
I, I think, and not judging from analytics, but just judging from my own use, I think the friction loss, uh, calculator and the obstruction tools are the two that I’m, I’m constantly on. Uh, I, i, if not daily, then every other day. And the friction loss is a, is a great way to estimate your pipe sizes if you’ve got a residential senior living facility and you’re wondering what your main size should be between a fire pump and, and 400 feet down the line. Well, with that friction loss tool, you could punch in, okay, I’ve got four sprinklers operating at 18, uh, gallons per minute individually. So I know I’ve got, you know, 90 to a hundred gallons flowing through the main, well, if it’s 400 feet of main, basically with, with only three inputs, you can get a comparison, a friction loss for all these different pipe sizes.
And it’s very visual, it’s very easy to see. And you can, you know, in an instant know, oh, okay, well a two inch will work fine because I’ve got cpbc or a two and a half inch because I’ve got schedule 40 steel, or, you know, it’s, and that, and that’s, that’s really nice as just a, an estimator as I’m designing. So as I’m laying things out initially, I’ve got a really good kind of honed in ballpark size on what these pipes need to be, well before everything’s ever connected. And I can I hydraulically calc. Sure. So I, I, I find that that’s one is, is, is particularly popular. It’s also really good for, uh, sizing underground mains. Right. And, um, and, and the other one is the obstruction rules. And that’s, you know, I don’t have those tables memorized and when I’m laying out Yeah, it’s, it’s really nice to say, okay, well, I’ve got a soffit.
I know the depth, I know the, you know, the, the distance from the sprinkler, or I think I know about the range of, of where I want the sprinkler to be. And with it, with just a few inputs, boom, here’s the rules. Here’s a diagram of what it, what the layout actually is dimensioned. And, uh, you know, you can tell really quick whether you’re violating an obstruction or not. So those, those two are, are kind of the quick hitters. But that’s, that’s essentially the whole emphasis of, uh, the program that I’ve got is we’ve got very fancy Cadillac hydraulic calculation programs that are way more powerful Sure. Uh, than anything I’ll ever create, and rightfully so. And we, we use those and we need those. And those, those are phenomenal. Um, but below that, you know, there’s, there’s kind of this void for just quick hitting, uh, really quick responsive, uh, I don’t know that I wouldn’t, I’m hesitant to say cheaper, but just fast tools that you use for everyday tasks. And that’s, that’s my goal is to help speed up those. The, it’s, it’s the lookup tables or it’s the quick calculations, the, the things you would normally have to write out or, or do on your calculator real quick. Well, with these, with less input, you can have a real powerful feedback
Drew Slocum: (16:41):
System. Yeah. You see, you got a clean agent one in there too. That’s nice.
Joe Meyer: (16:44):
Yeah. Yeah. That’s, uh, more or less an estimator based on NFPA 2001.
Drew Slocum: (16:49):
No, no, that’s good. I, I always had that, I was always struggling to get that when I was, um, you know, or putting estimates together for, for some of that, you know, for volumes in the room. So that’s, that’s great. It’s all Excel, it’s all Excel based, or is it web based?
Joe Meyer: (17:03):
Yeah, it’s Excel based. It’s, uh, so I’ve got Excel online basically is, is how it’s pulling it off. And so, um, you don’t necessarily have to have Excel to pull it off. The two that are most research intensive, uh, that took, uh, a number of months. There’s a sprinkler database on
Drew Slocum: (17:21):
There. Yeah. Which, that was the other one I flagged.
Joe Meyer: (17:23):
Yeah. It’s just, it, it’s an inventory of like 15,000 different models of sprinklers and all the different versions for each model. So there’s not 15,000 models, but there’s 15,000 versions. And, uh, that’s an incredibly powerful tool cuz you’ve, if you’ve got a residential, uh, you know, unit, going back to that example and it’s, it’s a 16 by 18 space and you want to use a residential sidewall well in a, again, in a matter of seconds, you can filter really quickly and find the sprinkler that has the lowest required pressure for that space. Yep, yep, yep. And that could save you on pipe size or Sure. You know, if you’re wondering, Hey, does a, you know, does a concealed space sprinkler at 144 square foot spacing exist in a K 4.2? Well click, click, click. Oh yeah, there’s three models, here’s what I’ve got to choose from. And so those, those were extremely exhaustive research efforts. But now that they exist, those, those have been really
Drew Slocum: (18:21):
Helpful. I might, uh, I might, uh, get with you offline after this to, to get a free trial of that cuz I’m, because we have some stuff in our software that, um, you know, cuz we run analytics. Does that have a, does that have older sprinklers too, or is it just the current ones that you design too?
Joe Meyer: (18:38):
It does, uh, it, it’s got some, okay. It, it’s not a, it’s not an exhaustive. And then, so that’s for, for that database, that’s kind of my next end goal. It would be really nice to look up, hey, this is a, a Grinnell or a
Drew Slocum: (18:51):
Joe Meyer: (18:52):
Yeah, exactly. Or that’s the F model from 1987. Is it, you know, is it recalled or is it not? Because that’s what you guys are seeing all the time is you gotta look up, is this recalled? And you, you probably have a handful of lists that you keep handy to know what is and what isn’t before, you know, for uh, a hardheaded engineer like me that’s walking in, um, it would be really nice to look up a s i n number and be able to pick that off really quick.
Drew Slocum: (19:17):
Yeah. It’s, uh, that’s a huge service item and it’s, it’s, you know, quick response. Sprinklers have been around since the eighties, but really they’ve been start, you know, they’re, um, um, used a lot, you know, really in the two thousands nineties, two thousands, they were really becoming more prevalent. Right. So all those 20 year, um, per fp at 25, the 20 year, uh, quick response, you know, tests, you know, that’s, that’s a huge thing. You gotta drain down your system, you gotta take a sample of your heads out, you gotta send ’em off for testing. So it’s a huge issue potentially. Yeah. So
Joe Meyer: (19:57):
That’s right. Um,
Drew Slocum: (19:58):
I’m gonna get a copy of that after this from you <laugh>, if you don’t mind.
Joe Meyer: (20:02):
For sure. For sure. There’s some updates that are coming on that next week, which will make it a little bit more, uh, user-friendly where you can sort, and so you can already filter the results and search for different K factors or different requirements, but, uh, after next week you’ll be able to like sort the list also. So of, of the 16 models that you have, you know, you can sort it from the lowest pressure requirement to the highest or lowest K factor to the highest, or, you know, however you need to, to diagram information. Sure. It’s gonna have a little more powerful analytics. We’re, we’re excited about that
Drew Slocum: (20:36):
Around here. Yeah. I like the, the same thing with the fire pump analysis, which we, we currently do a, a decent job per the, per the code. We have all the requirements, but it’d be nice to toss some, some advanced analytics on fire pumps cuz you know, the annual test, you’re always seeing something different usually.
Joe Meyer: (20:53):
So That’s right. That’s right. Yeah. And you know, like, so what I’ve got, you know, you can, you punch in your flow test information, a rough system demand, and again, you can, you can kind of dial in your fire pump size or what’s needed just based off some, some basic inputs. So it’s Sure. It’s, it’s not the, it’s not the full fledge hydraulic calculation that you end up with. Right. But if you’re estimating, you know, you’re bid a job or something like that, or that client keeps, keeps pestering you because they want to know, electrical wants to know how many horsepower, uh right. Is behind your pump. Well, there you go. You know, it’s, it’s, it’ll get you there.
Drew Slocum: (21:29):
Yeah. That’s great. Um, yeah. Hopefully, hopefully, uh, people check that out. I, I know there’s a, by far the biggest extensive tool I’ve seen so far, so that’s great.
Joe Meyer: (21:41):
Yeah. Well, thanks. We, we, again, this is more or less like the fun tools I kind of tend to create for myself. Yeah, right.
Drew Slocum: (21:49):
<laugh> put ’em out to the market.
Joe Meyer: (21:51):
Yeah. Opening it up and saying, you know, somebody else can benefit other than like, you know, the guy in his office.
Drew Slocum: (21:56):
Um, kind of transition it over to your, your, your prep stuff. Um, I know you, you, you kind of probably, you, you said you started with a lot of the exam prep. Is that where you kind of started with this, this whole website?
Joe Meyer: (22:10):
Yeah. Yeah. So in, in, uh, I took the PE exam, I believe it was 2014. And around that time, uh, S F P E had a review course and they had a reference manual, but really other than that, there was a few third party things. But, um, it’s just kind of frustrated with the availability of Yeah. Material to study from. And it’s, it is a real pain point, uh, for everybody that I was, uh, taking the exam with then. But as I found out, it had been a, a pain point for a, a lot longer before that. The problem with the fire protection PE exam is there’s really only 200 to maybe two 50 at most examinees each year. So all of these big PE study books, uh, like, you know, for civil engineering or mechanical engineering, right. Well, they’re selling, they’re selling it to thousands of engineers every year, or potential examinees and, uh, fire protection is just so small of a space that nobody had really looked into that.
So I, I put together, the first year was just more or less a cheat sheet of formulas and, uh, here’s the units that you use with these formulas, or here’s the assumptions you make when you’re doing a smoke control analysis for venting and, and looking at plug hole or whatnot. And so I sold a formula sheet only to, you know, maybe a dozen people or so. But the feedback that I got on it was great. They said, you know, we’d love practice problems. Well, the next year I, I wrote a handful of practice problems and bundled it into a book and got that out and kind of started that feedback loop each year, which was, we want more problems. You know, these five problems are questionable, these five problems are junk and you need five more problems on special hazards. Okay, great. You know, and so 2017 and rewrote the book, kept adding to it. And now, you know, a number of years later, uh, it’s got, it’s got hundreds of, of questions that have been pretty well vetted and, uh, it’s a, it’s, it’s kind of a nice resource that’s not, that’s not a a $500 expenditures.
Drew Slocum: (24:08):
Yeah, no, that’s great. Much more reasonable. Yeah. The nyep stuff is, is good too. Uh, you got fire alarm, you got sprinkler, you got suppression. Um, the one thing you don’t have is how to navigate the application forny set <laugh>. Yeah. I always complain on this podcast about how it’s so complicated to figure out the paperwork forny set, you know, between the work experience and everything else. I’m like, that’s right.
Joe Meyer: (24:36):
Drew Slocum: (24:36):
Should, they should make that more streamlined. I don’t know, <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative>.
Joe Meyer: (24:40):
Exactly. Exactly. Well, and that’s one of the questions I kept getting. So I don’t cover any, any of the niec content. And the same with CFPs. I, uh, there’s an exam there that I don’t cover anything on, but I do get questions a lot about, Hey, what, what exists and what’s third party? What’s official? What do I need to look for? And so tho those pages that I’ve got up on the website are more or less, Hey, here’s, here’s everything we found and here’s links to the right spots. Um, so that if, if people are navigating forny a or navigating for the PE or, or CFPs. Yeah, that’s great. They’ve got a resource. They can find these
Drew Slocum: (25:14):
Things. Yeah. You got fire Tech on here who, uh, who was on the podcast, uh, a few months ago, so,
Joe Meyer: (25:19):
Yeah. Um, yeah, got got a hand, a handful of, uh, books from those guys.
Drew Slocum: (25:23):
Yeah. That’s great. Yeah, this is, I, I’ll, uh, I’ll definitely, I might even actually send this out when we push, push the, uh, push the stuff for the podcast out, cuz the nice, you know, everybody, at least in inspection side, there’s some sort of nice set, either required or you should be getting some, some sort of certification there, so. Yeah.
Joe Meyer: (25:42):
Drew Slocum: (25:43):
That’s great. Um, um, last kind of little topic wanted to chat about was you, you kind of meant, you know, back in the day, it’s not that long ago that I was doing a lot of fire protection engineer, um, I guess consultation, helping them out with different, uh, Viking products and Tyco products and stuff like that. Um, you made a comment the other day that you’ve, you’ve kind of gone full Revit, um, yeah. And 3D and, and all the BIM stuff. Uh, that was, I mean, I’ve only been out of it for probably two and a half, three years now. I I haven’t heard of anybody else doing that. Maybe maybe people are starting to, to move that way, but, um, what, what’s your, why’d you do that? Why’d you move full Revit?
Joe Meyer: (26:33):
Yeah. Uh, so I, I, I was at a, uh, seminar. It was a software company led seminar. This was back in, I think 20 16, 20 17. And in the room there were maybe about 40 different companies and about 60 or 70 different people there. And it was, uh, here, here in St. Louis. And the question was, are you using cad? Are you using Revit? And, uh, we were the only ones that were a hundred percent in Revit at that time. And, uh, the, the next question was, are you wanting to be in Revit or are you wanting to stay a hundred percent in cad? And about two thirds of the room, you know, expressed that they wanted to be in Revit and more familiar with Revit, which I thought was really interesting. And, you know, for engineers on the consulting side, it’s easy to dabble in Revit and it’s easy to be in Revit because the architects are, uh, designing projects in Revit already.
Right. So there’s an, a natural, you know, keeping with the, keeping up with the architects. And there’s, there’s consultants out there that still do exclusively cad, but they’re becoming fewer and fewer. And, uh, Revit on the consulting side, you know, is, is easier to dabble in on. Also, you know, when engineering graduates come out, sometimes they have Revit training. I know for my undergrad, you know, I, I, I got some background in Revit. Um, and so they’re, they’re familiar with that space. They’re doing that on the shop drawing side for contractors. You know, we’ve had this really long legacy that’s been exclusively cad. And when I say cad, I’m, you know, I’m thinking about you. The, the hydrotech, the Sprint cad, uh, the different Yep. Uh, different versions of that. Auto Spring has their own third party platform, which I wouldn’t really consider to be 2d.
It really is a 3D program mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but it’s also not, uh, it’s not buckled in into the Revit platform. It’s really, you know, it’s own, uh, standalone third party workhorse. And so, you know, we’ve, we’ve had this barrier where consulting has had to shift to Revit and they’ve been comfortable playing at Revit, but the contractors, uh, they don’t, they don’t always have those people No. That are, have the Revit background. And so to go from no experience in Revit to going all in and being as efficient in Revit as you are, CAD is a tough hill to climb. Sure. It is a, it is a steep learning curve. And I, I’m, I, you know, I work with, uh, sprinkler contractors who have design outfits and, um, they, you know, most of the time the feedback that I’m getting is, oh yeah, we’ve got a, a person or two that’s got a Revit license and they’ve, they’re going through some training now, or they’re dabbling with it, or we’re trying it out on a project.
Um, but that’s been kind of the status for the past three or four years. And the, the, the problem with that is there’s so many nuances to Revit, and Revit is a very needy program in that you can’t, you can’t, it’s, you can’t come in with a CAD background thinking in CAD ways and go into Revit and say, okay, this is how I did it before this program needs to still operate on that workflow. Sure. It’s almost like you gotta say, all right, Revit, I get it. I’m the idiot. I am gonna figure out how Revit is thinking about this, and I’m gonna think about it from that workflow and work from the, that that program’s first mindset. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, um, you know, really in order to do that, it was, it was 2016 for, for us, and then we said, we’re gonna do exclusively Revit.
We’re not doing any more CAD at all. We’re going all, all, both feed in, everything is, everything is Revit, and we’re gonna figure out a, a way to get this done faster. And it, it took legitimately a full two years Wow. Of doing design and Revit before we got as fast at it as we were in cad. Right. And that’s, that’s a substantial, you know, wall to breakthrough. And that was even coming from the background of having Revit experience Sure. And knowing a little bit about it. But, um, you know, on the other side being, being two years past that point now, uh, you know, and again, this is, this is shop drawing work. This isn’t, you know, performance spec engineering drawings. This is, this is fully engaged and installation ready shop drawing work that’s coming out of Revit. Uh, it’s, it’s just, there’s, there’s a whole world of opportunity on the other end.
And I’m seeing, you know, what, what used to take me, you know, a four day project I could get done in one. And it’s not just about Okay, cuz because on the onset I’m thinking, okay, if somebody says it used to take four days and now it takes one, clearly they’re just glancing over things. They shouldn’t be glancing over. They’re not as detailed as they should be, or they’re not as involved in the project as they should be. And that’s really not reality. The reality is that I’ve cut out all of the, the pieces of the project that don’t relate to quality or don’t relate to communicating the design intent to the guys in the field. I’m spending more time looking at obstructions or looking at, uh, the, the, the, the system in three dimensions, or I’m looking at a theater and I’ve got slope pipe that matches precisely on these floating cloud ceilings for the theater.
And it’s, I I, I’m, I’m doing all of that in real time and at a much faster pace because I’m designing and modeling in 3D as opposed to, you know, CAD based where you’re looking at a plan view and then you’re cutting and drawing a section, and then you’re going back to plan and you’re, you’re doing some geometry and some arithmetic and you’re trying to guess on, on some slopes to get things to, to work out. Right. And match. You know, when you’re, when you’re all in and you’re a 3d, that stuff is just, it’s, you know, you’re seeing things in real space. Right. At any point I can take a section of the system, blow it up into 3D and see exactly how the system is going to lay out. And it’s, you know, I’ve, I’ve heard the comparison that, uh, you know, once, once you’re all in, and not necessarily Revit, but, but even just Revit was the example.
Once you’re all in and you’re working in 3d, going back to CAD feels like you’re designing with the remote control because you’re just not, you’re not seeing the whole picture. Right. You know, when you, when you get into attic systems and, uh, you’ve got a trust configuration and you’re trying to slope a dry system perpendicular to the slope of the attic. I mean, there, there’s a whole Yeah. Handful of geometries working there. If you’ve got a Sure. A seven 12 roof pitch and you’ve, you’re sloping your, your dry system branch lines down opposite the other way. Well, in cad, you know, you kind of gotta do some rise over run lengths Oh, yeah. Calculations. And if you’re working only in planned view, then you’re making some estimates about where exactly that pipe should be. Uh, you know, if you’re, if you’re in 3D and you’re living that it’s, you know, it’s click, click, boom, you know exactly the height that one end is at you, you can run it the other way.
It’s just, it’s, it’s a completely different game. Yep. And, um, it’s, you know, uh, it’s, it’s a, uh, it’s definitely a hill to climb, but on the other end, I mean, the, the stuff that I’m, I’m not, I’m not really trying to, to, um, you know, pat myself on the back here or, or say that’s better approach than anybody else. But, but I am saying that the efficiencies that you gain on the back end and the kind of quality of Sure. Uh, of, of submittals is just, it, it it’s just totally different. Yeah. You know, if I’m gonna do a, a full project cut through, uh, for, for a job, you know, take a theater for example, I can, I can slice it 10 different ways and in five minutes have that com all those sections cleaned up on the drawings live, you know, and if, if you wanted to cut 10 different sections of your system for a CAD based design, like that’s, that’s time, that’s, that’s really tough.
You know? Right. And it’s, and if you make, God, God forbid you make a change, uh, you know, now you gotta redraw it 10 different times. You know, when you’re in 3d, it’s, it’s live, it’s, you’re, you’re working in section, you’re working in 3d, you’re working in a plant. They’re all, they’re all really one. And, uh, it’s neat. I mean, it’s, the analytics on it are just incredible because, uh, you know, a cpvc system for, for assisted living, you know, I could tell you exactly with it, with a few clicks, how many one inch elbows are on there, how many reducing the sprinkler adapters. I’ve got a bill of materials that’s, that’s live and that’s represented by the actual model. And I, because I know, you know, I know what’s in
Drew Slocum: (35:18):
There. Yeah. The bill of material is huge, you know, that comes the down the other end of the contractor for, for bidding, quoting or just Yeah. You know, purchasing and, and all that. So, huge part. Yeah. I know, uh, Vikings partner partnered up with Auto Spring, um, to do some stuff there. And, you know, some of the other, um, suppliers have done that as well, you know, with their bim BIM models and all that. But I know, uh, even on the cut lists, you know, for, for pipe fabrication, you know, they, yeah, it gets into that to make that even more efficient. So
Joe Meyer: (35:51):
Yeah. For, for people, I should say, for people who are working in that Revit space or living in there, if they don’t already know, there’s a handful of really good programs. Uh, Victaulic tools for Revit is about $200 per license per year. Uh, it’s not an annual subscription, but if you’ve got Revit 2020, you just buy it once for 200 bucks and you get their, their kitted tools. Um, that’s great for pipe routing for, uh, deleting pipe, for connecting different pieces together. Um, and it’s kind of a must have, if you’re drawing pipe in Revit, Viking, which you just mentioned, Viking’s got a, a Revit add in now that it brings in Vikings suite, uh, uh, equipment, and they’ve got some sprinkler layout tools on there, and that one’s free. And that’s, so that’s, that’s good. Right. Uh, there is Auto Spring, R V T, which, um, I’m working a ton with now.
And that’s it. You know, if you’re, if you’re committed and need hydraulic calculations out of Revit, uh, it’s phenomenal. It’s not inexpensive, but the payback’s definitely there. It, it is, it is really good program. I also use, uh, hydro CAD for Revit. They’ve got a suite where you can stock list from your model. Um, they also have layout tools that are, are great for initial sprinkler layouts and laying out pipe. And then, um, I’m just trying to think. There’s, there’s a few other add-ins. If you search like revits, Autodesk, uh, suite of tools, there’s other third party add-ins that are not fire protection related, but they can come in, like CT CTC has a nice suite, helps with sheet set up. It helps with, uh, you know, if you’ve got a model you can import, you know, a filter real quick that says, I wanna grab all two inch groove pipe on the project, like click, click, click, you’ve got it all, change it out to inch and a half, or change it to threaded or, you know. Right. There’s, there’s a whole gamut of things that, uh, you know, from a cat perspective, it might be possible to do, but it, it’s just not as seamless as, as you see on the rabbit side. So there’s, there’s definitely some, some great tools out there. I
Drew Slocum: (37:58):
Improving the workflow, that’s what, what, that’s what we’re both about, right?
Joe Meyer: (38:02):
Oh, all the time. <laugh>. Yeah. All the time. Sharp, you know, sharpening the, the sharpening, the saw or, uh, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s incredible. It’s, uh, how, how much better spent your time can be when, you know, you’re not working on cleaning up pipe annotations for hours before a project goes out. Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s a, it’s a totally different world on the other side. And I, I, you know, I know a few people that are kind of, is, is dialed in and, and relentless on constantly tweaking and improving their processes, but, uh, it’s, it’s really neat. It’s really neat on the other end.
Drew Slocum: (38:42):
Yeah. It’s good stuff. I mean, um, I, I wish, well, people are starting to do that, you know, with the technology, with the software out there, um, whether whoever, whether you’re designing, whether you’re just, you know, task on your phone to help you help you with your, you know, whatever task that you’re doing every day, Evernote and stuff like that. So you just gotta be open to it these days to, to improve the process, eventually maybe have more free time or, you know, generate more revenue at the end of the day.
Joe Meyer: (39:13):
So. That’s right. That’s right. It’s, you know, it’s, I, I, I feel like it’s, some people kind of have that inkling to just be constantly tweaking the process or finding ways to improve. And, uh, you know, if you, if you’re, uh, not to sound too pointed, but you know, if your company is still going about design the same way that they were five years ago or the same way that they were three years ago, you should really take a good hard look at that because there’s so much that’s changed even just so recently. Uh, not just Revit, but even around Revit. Um, there’s just, there’s so much opportunity on that other side. Uh, once you get past those, those initial startup hurdles, um, it’s, it’s, it’s really neat to see.
Drew Slocum: (39:58):
No, that’s good. Good to, good to hear. Good to to learn. You know, since I’ve, uh, made the transition over the, the TM and service side, it’s, uh, it’s good to hear that’s progressing a little on the engineering and, and design side. So, um, yeah. Before we, uh, uh, get going, I want to do a, you know, good old quick response round to, to get your opinion on a few, uh, few quick hit questions. You don’t know what’s coming here.
Joe Meyer: (40:27):
All right. All right. Um, little nervous, but, okay.
Drew Slocum: (40:29):
Yeah, it’s all right. Um, so starting off, um, are you a, a Cubs or a Cards fan?
Joe Meyer: (40:37):
<laugh>? Um, that’s easy, but it’s a little bit dangerous. I’ve got, uh, uh, Cubs fans who are clients of mine, <laugh>, and very, very, very good clients of mine. And I like working in Chicago. I like to think St. Louis, you know, in a way we’re, we’re kind of just Chicago, one of bees, um, in terms of sp of City and things got going on. Uh, but I, I’d be lying right now if I, if I told you I wasn’t wearing a Cardinals hat, so that’s,
Drew Slocum: (41:02):
Ah, there you go. <laugh>. What, what do you think’s gonna happen? What, what, what do you think’s gonna happen to the season?
Joe Meyer: (41:09):
Well, you know, it sounds like everybody’s incentivized to get this thing rolling and, uh, get back in there. You know, a few years ago we saw in Baltimore when they played a game without the fans, and it was just one of the most bizarre sporting events I’ve, I’ve ever watched. Right. So, I, you know, it, it’ll be different, but part of me says, you know, there’s just too much at stake for them not to have a season. So, we’ll, we’ll find out pretty soon.
Drew Slocum: (41:31):
Yeah. It’s weird. How, how is sports gonna come back? I, I’m, I’m a big golf fan. I’m a big baseball fan as well, but golf, golf seems to be a little easier. You know, they had, they have a co a couple exhibition things this last week and this week, and, uh, but it’s, it’s still, it’s still weird. It’s, it’s, it’s gonna be, um, you know, I don’t know. <laugh> sports is, sports is a big part of life,
Joe Meyer: (41:57):
You know? That’s right. That’s right. Well, I, so you’re an Eagles guy, right?
Drew Slocum: (42:01):
I’m an Eagles fan, yeah. You found out from the form. I forgot about that. Um, yeah, Eagles fan and, um, you know, growing up in New York, upstate New York, and then moving to New York City later in life, that was, uh, it was, it was always good cuz the Giants weren’t, weren’t the best in, in the times I lived there. So, uh, uh, yeah, it was, we weird, I’m an Eagles fan, but, um, I am a Yankees fan, so that’s
Joe Meyer: (42:26):
Eagles and Yankees. Ouch.
Drew Slocum: (42:28):
Yeah, I know, right?
Joe Meyer: (42:30):
Yeah. I, I know who not to pick a fight with <laugh>.
Drew Slocum: (42:37):
Oh, you got me laughing.
Joe Meyer: (42:39):
Drew Slocum: (42:41):
Well, I, I, I wouldn’t be an Eagles fan, um, if I knew how bad the Eagles fans were growing up
Joe Meyer: (42:49):
Drew Slocum: (42:49):
Yeah. I was, I was removed from that. So, um,
Joe Meyer: (42:54):
Yeah, I, I, so I, I’m kinda a baseball nut. I I’ve been to all, but I think like five or six of the ballparks now. I, I just, I love, loved, loved watching games and different cities. Uh, New York Yankees was one place I did not wear anything cardinal. No, I should,
Drew Slocum: (43:09):
Yeah, no, they’re, they’re all right with Cardinals fans there. I mean, red Sox fans wear Red Sox stuff there now, so it’s not, it’s definitely not the same, um, as it used to be. And I would definitely not, now that I live up in Connecticut, I’m, I would definitely not wear Yankees apparel, but to Boston, cuz I think it’s, no, it’s even more hazardous.
Joe Meyer: (43:29):
<laugh>. Yeah. Yeah. I did, I did have a Cardinal fa uh, uh, hat in, um, in Fenway. And, uh, I, I got a few comments about that, but they, they’re, you know, they’re pretty fun. Yeah,
Drew Slocum: (43:39):
They’re fun. Yeah. It’s all in fun, especially I think after this it’ll even be more fun, cuz it’s like everybody, everybody missed, missed sports, so they just wanna see something.
Joe Meyer: (43:49):
Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, for sure.
Drew Slocum: (43:52):
Uh, second question here, um, I know, I know you definitely, I know what your answer’s gonna be here, but do you, you design fire alarm as well, right?
Joe Meyer: (44:02):
I do, yeah. Yep. I’ve, I’ve, what do you like laid out fire alarm systems for years, but I, I’m just, just getting into the shop drawing side too.
Drew Slocum: (44:09):
What do you like better? Sprinkler fire alarm.
Joe Meyer: (44:15):
I, you know, um, I I I’m so focused suppression all the time that I feel like it’s, it’s a little bit more of a natural fit. Um, but I’ve, I’ve still dabbled in fire alarm, you know, kind of my whole way through. So I, I would say I’m most comfortable in suppression and just all the nuances in the industry and, and how that operates. Um, you know, but, but it’s, I certainly don’t mind fire alarm. I do find that interesting.
Drew Slocum: (44:43):
Yeah. It’s, uh, I, you don’t see too many sprinkler, um, designers like yourself that do fire alarm as well, but I know, I know you have a lot of that on your site, so wanted to ask you. Yeah,
Joe Meyer: (44:55):
Well, and, and you know, from the forum and, uh, the blog post and all that, I, I, I do catch some heat for, uh, from the fire alarm folks, you know, wanting to feel included and, uh, you know, fire protection is more than just the suppression side. Oh yeah. And I totally realize that. It’s just, it’s so easy, you know, to, to get caught up on the suppression side. So it’s, it’s, it’s all good. We’re all, we’re all still family. We’re
Drew Slocum: (45:19):
Joe Meyer: (45:19):
Get stuff out occasionally.
Drew Slocum: (45:21):
Yeah. We get, we’re, we’re changing our logo now. Um, finally, we’re finally changing our logo from spring. We’ve been doing fire alarm and, uh, you know, clean agent suppression, kitchen suppression for, for years now, um mm-hmm. <affirmative> probably almost since we started, but we’ve had the sprinkler logo, so <laugh>, there’s there, you know, there’s a little battle out there sometimes. So we’re, uh, decided we gotta go more neutral, neutral ground here soon.
Joe Meyer: (45:47):
Yeah. Yeah. That’s fair.
Drew Slocum: (45:48):
Um, last question. Um, what, what do you prefer Tyco, Viking or reliable and So, sorry. Oh man. Sorry. Sorry. Victaulic people, but you know, they don’t have the head heads as the, the other three do <laugh>. So my, my, my buddies Vic to aren’t gonna like that. But, um, anyway. Do you have ever preference? I know you, I probably know what your answer is, but, uh, I’ll let you go after it.
Joe Meyer: (46:17):
<laugh>. Well, I’m, I’m just gonna walk a line and not say any of ’em. Is is that what you
Drew Slocum: (46:21):
Yeah, that’s what I thought. Yeah,
Joe Meyer: (46:23):
Yeah, yeah. No, I, I, I have found that, uh, different sprinklers for different, so I’m a, I’m a design guy, I’m a design first guy, and, uh, um, you know, I’ve, I’ve, I always ask my clients if they have a preference one way or another, and most of them do. Uh, I, I’ve had preferences for Tyco, I’ve had preferences for Globe, I’ve had preferences for Reliable, and I’ve had, uh, preferences for Viking. So, um, I, I, you know, I design really across all of the lines, and, and that’s just usually one of the early on questions I get from the installers. But, uh, that being said, I mean from, um, if I don’t get any preferences, you know, a lot of times it’s, it’s just what, what sprinkler is, uh, not so far from the standard that it’s gonna be too pricey, but fits the design, you know? Precisely. Cuz if I can shave off a couple pounds on your starting pressure, then that could impact, uh, uh, you know, a pipe size down the road or a main size or something like that. So, being designed first, I, I’m, I’m less loyal to, you know, any one individual brand than I am, uh, you know, trying to get the design right.
Drew Slocum: (47:34):
Yeah. So I, I, I knew your answer, <laugh>. I don’t have a preference anymore either. That’s why I can ask the question.
Joe Meyer: (47:44):
Drew Slocum: (47:44):
Um, that’s, well, uh, that, that’s it, Joe. Um, um, appreciate you coming on. I’ll, I’ll let you, uh, kind of give, uh, your last thoughts, any, any contact information where we can find you, what you got coming up, so, uh, you know, the floor’s yours.
Joe Meyer: (48:01):
Yeah. Well, thanks for having me on first off. Uh, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s great catching up and, and, uh, this is really kind of a, a nice format. Uh, if people are looking for me, you can find me at, uh, meyer fire.com. Uh, uh, you know, when you’re, when your last name rhymes with fire, you just kind of gotta go with it. So, um, that’s m e y e r fire.com and, uh, yeah, on the horizon, there’s, there’s two big things I’m working on. One is, there’s a N F S A handbook, uh, which is a collection of all of the expert of the day opinions that N F S A has published. Is they, they’re informal opinions, uh, dating back to, I think 2004 through 2018. We’re, we’re compiling those into, uh, a a two volume handbook series that answers basically 1900 of the most, uh, popular questions on suppression systems.
And that should be out later this summer. I’m, I’m fortunately, those are not my opinions. Those are, uh, from people much, much smarter than me. I’m just helping compile it and put some visuals to it. But that’s, that’s a handbook that’s gonna be out later this summer, so look out for that, cuz I, I think that’s gonna be a real great resource for the industry. Uh, the other item I’ve been working on is, um, a free tool. It’s code calls.org. And, uh, what what we’re doing is kinda compiling a, a jurisdictional database for local requirements around the country. And so right now we’re honed in on the state of Indiana and, uh, using that as our test case to see whether the concept is viable or not. But in the end, you know, you’d be, should be able to search for your project zip code, uh, see what the jurisdiction is in the area, and then know, right, right offhand what the hydraulic safety factor is and oh wow. Whether your pumps require backup power. Wow. That kinda thing. That’s, that’s been a ask from designers since forever. Um, and I think we’re, we’re getting close to having the ability to pull that off with, with the community that exists now. So that’s, that’s, uh, a very slow moving project, but it’s a big one. And, uh, if you’re in Indiana or you’re, um, you know, code jurisdiction or no, no, people that are on the review side, uh, check that out. That’s at code calls.org.
Drew Slocum: (50:12):
Okay, great. Yeah, good stuff, Joe. Um, well, you, you’re, you’re a busy man. Um, got a lot of different irons in the fire, so
Joe Meyer: (50:22):
Yeah, that’s what my wife says. Yeah, <laugh>.
Drew Slocum: (50:25):
Well, I appreciate you coming on and, um, yeah, I’ll, I’ll get this, uh, we’ll hear from you soon and, um, I’ll put everything in, uh, the podcast notes and make sure to check out, uh, meyer fire.com. You got it. Thanks so much, drew. A lot of fun. Take care. I want to thank Joe Meyer again for being on the podcast today. Meyer fire.com, Meyer Fire llc. Joe’s got a lot going, uh, wealth of knowledge from the professional engineering world, uh, on his site and with his firm. So, uh, yeah, appreciate all the listenership. Uh, we’ve got a, a, a nice series coming up with a few more podcasts as well. We’ll as we’ll be talking about, uh, one with some pretty large features within spec point that are coming out in August. So stay tuned and stay safe.