Winter Newsletter

Bill McKay,Advanced–Jim Stewart, Advanced–Mike Balsey, Advanced–Gay Johnson, King Co.–Jamie Vos, Security Solutions–Randy Knighton, Knight–Herb Canon, Knight–Rick Sigmen, Commercial–Steve Hobart, SimplexGrinnell–Mike LaBelle, SimplexGrinnell–Ceven Cullens, SimplexGrinnell–Mike Fitz, MDE–Mark Hoyt, Noveon/Blazemaster–Ashton Wolfe, Wolfe–Joe Stewart, Wolfe–Herb Schairbaum, Bates-TC Fire Protection Student–Tracy Moore, Moore–Ken Moore, Moore–Ron Greenman,Bates Technical College

Welcome to the first Newsletter of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of AFSA for 2006. Because Bill had me do most of the talking my notes are kind of sketchy so this installment will be brief. I suppose whether that’s good or bad depends on your point of view. As you can see from the list of attendees this was the biggest turnout we’ve ever had. The usual room we use (the big one) was too small for all the folks that showed up. Fortunately the gracious people at 13 Coins opened up the accordion wall that separates the small meeting room from the large and allowed us to use both. Luckily there wasn’t another party going on. And I use the term party on purpose because I’ve never seen the crew so raucous. And now—THE NEWS!

Several pieces of news that affect contractors were discussed. First and probably foremost was the annual attempt by the fitters’ union to introduce legislation that would require certification of fitters. I don’t know whether or not the bill was introduced to the Assembly or the Senate or both but I do know it never made it out of committee.

At the last meeting of the State Fire Marshal’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the Fire Sprinkler Contractors’ Licensing Law (WAC 212-80) the Union sent representatives to argue that since the requirement for certification of individuals performing IT&M per NFPA 25 had been established their constituency was now being affected without representation on the TAG. The acting State Fire Marshal, who was present (and whose name escapes me at the moment), agreed. He did acknowledge that there are two distinct groups of fitters with different agendas and so wanted representatives for both union and merit fitters. Also determined was that the representative was just that and did not need to be a fitter actively engaged in fitting on a full time basis but could be someone with knowledge of fitter issues. Since merit shop fitters do not have an organization like the union to draw from AFSA/PacNW was asked to submit a name for primary and alternate members. Since we have the many contractor/owners that are also out there putting pipes in the air we were able to find reps that are in a position to imposition themselves to serve the better interests of our members and those employees and their families that are also affected by the TAG and its recommendations. All that said the membership attending our winter meeting chose Roger White as primary and Chuck Paradis as alternate. Since neither made it to this meeting (though usually both attend) there was no protest to the appointments. Before submitting their names to Larry Glenn I did call each one and they both graciously (sort of) accepted so it really wasn’t a case of being voluntold. I hope this is clear to everyone since the make-up of the TAG and its recommendations does impact each of our Washington contractor members. If you have any questions about this long and meandering explanation or about the TAG in general give me a buzz and I’ll try to answer or at least direct you to someone that can.

Gay Johnson from the King County Fire Marshal’s Office presented another item of interest relative to IT&M. She reported that King County was the first to adopt NFPA 25, way before the State adopted the I Codes which reference the 1998 version of 25 and was now enforcing those requirements.

We agreed to start sponsoring a series of AFSA seminars since I’ve had many requests to do so. I’ll be keeping you posted as to where and when as well as updating the Events section on our website. Gay Johnson volunteered to help with finding venues. Mike Six from Bremerton has also offered to host one or more.

As you may know we had to cancel this year’s (2005-2006) scholarship contest due to a lack of funds. The bills I send out for the meetings cover exactly the cost of the meeting. Our only income comes from our active chapter rebates (money AFSA rebates us for having four or more meetings per year and distributing this newsletter after each) and an occasional new member rebate. The upshot of all this is that we have been spending more than we’ve been making. Even someone with my poor business sense knows this can only go on for so long. Although our treasury is currently back on a solid footing we don’t have enough extra to do much of anything so the attending contractor members at the last meeting agreed that AFSA Pacific Northwest Contractors would be assessed a $150.00 annual fee to help support or educational endeavors. Be on the lookout for a bill coming from me for that amount to a mailbox near you. Of course payment will be voluntary and not paying will not affect your AFSA membership, but I certainly hope you’ll see the value and even throw in a little more. And if you think our efforts go unappreciated here is an excerpt from an unsolicited thank you letter by our last first place winner.

“Organizations such as yours that offer scholarships make dreams come true for those of us who would not otherwise be able to afford a higher education. Please pass on my thanks to those who are responsible for my scholarship aid. Sincerely, Harasyn R. Sandell, class of 2009”

So on behalf of Harasyn and as per her request: Thank you!

Finally, Larry Glenn sent out the following interesting email that might be of some value to you.

Subject: “meter setter”
I received a complaint from a local AHJ last week filed against a very reputable fire sprinkler contractor regarding a 13-D sprinkler installation that had failed its bucket test.
After re-checking their calcs, the contractor next suspected the underground piping might be crimped or obstructed.  After digging up the underground, and finding nothing wrong, the contractor was finally informed that the water purveyor used “water meter setters.” 
For those of you who think a “water meter setter” is someone sitting on a water meter or  maybe an individual who installs water meters, better think again.
The “meter setter” in question is a device used by water purveyors to raise the water meter up from the water main to allow easier reading of the meter.  To view pictures of meter setters, go to:     
Sounds innocent enough, but with 40 G.P.M. flowing, this device with its partial flow shut off valve, creates up to 22 P.S.I. friction loss.  This friction loss is on top of the friction loss created by the water meter.  The sprinkler contractor had no idea these “devices” were being used and so restricted the flow.  Fortunately for this homeowner a 2 head bucket test was conducted.  Unfortunately, not every jurisdiction requires them.  
The water purveyor in question stated they had never run into this “problem” before.  By their simply changing the shut off valve to a full flow valve, dropped the friction loss with 40 G.P.M. flowing, from 22 P.S.I. to 9 P.S.I.  This particular water purveyor stated they would not use the partial flow valves any longer.
This problem comes to light less than a week after my speaking to a large group of water purveyors about “impairment procedures” required by NFPA 25.   After they had asked all their questions, I made the mistake of asking them the question how they can justify charging so much higher rates for a water meter service supplying 13-D fire sprinkler systems than for a standard residential occupancy.  Especially when you consider they do not increase rates if the same homeowner simply adds another rarely used faucet.
After the rocks quit flying, I came to the conclusion that the only good reason was quite simple—they could.
After running into these two significant issues with water purveyors in the last two weeks makes me believe the problem here can best be explained by a quote from one of my favorite movies—Cool Hand Luke.  The quote went something like “what we have here is a failure to communicate.”  I would suggest we all start communicating with our water purveyors and start asking some hard questions before somebody gets burned, (pun intended).