Winter Newsletter

The discussion started off with a report by Bill on the February 4 13D seminar hosted by the Washington State Fire Marshal at the L & I Building in Tumwater. There was a lot of talk, pro and con, about the two types of PEX systems.

We then rapidly moved onto the fitter certification issue and the TAG that will be making recommendations to the State Fire Marshal on how too implement the new law. One big issue, and this can’t be stressed too much due to the power of words; be careful about what you call your employees. The law as written currently uses the terms “certified installer” and “trainee.” It’s important to use these terms and avoid the words “journeyman” and “apprentice.” Union and non-union tradesmen have traditionally used these latter terms, but as they’re traditionally employed they can suggest union affiliation in the minds of many. The law empowers the State Fire Marshal to approve training programs for “trainees” that then become “certified installers.” Get used to using these words. If I wasn’t strong enough in saying this assume I’ve said it all again.

We talked a bit about how the law works. Roger White thinks he’s found, and Bill agrees, that there is a grandfather clause in the law. The TAG will be meeting next on May 20th at 1:30 at the GSA Building in Olympia. Also at the state level, Larry Glenn has retired and Steve Meyers has left for a position with Simplex/Grinnell. Humberto is still there as is Angela, always good friends to the sprinkler industry.

There was a discussion about CPVC failures. Bill brought a report from a lab study of how CPVC can fail. Issues were the use of improper, that is non-compatible, cutting oils in mixed steel/CPVC systems. Make sure your cutting oils are compatible with your CPVC if you do this type of work. Anti-freeze is also a problem. Remember, only glycerin with CPVC even if it is the most expensive. Piping failures are even more expensive. Make sure you don’t lock your long runs of piping in and make sure all your clamps allow the pipe enough clearance to slide longitudinally during heat expansion and contraction. Watch out for thermal breaks in insulation. Avoid shear forces, i.e.: even though it’s flexible don’t bend CPVC too much. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding how much bend is acceptable. Be sure to make up joints properly. No to hacksaws and yes to reaming tools. Do ensure the quarter turn. Keep tools with biting teeth, such as pipe wrenches and channel locks, away from CPVC. Those teeth marks become a weak spot. And last but not least don’t use too little glue, but just as important don’t use too much. Sloppy joints with huge amounts of glue coming out soften the pipe and cause weak spots. In fact I’ve heard that AHJs have really tuned into this one and are requiring that pipe with gluey fingerprints or wipe marks be removed. I don’t think that that being problematic is even implied in the report but you all know AHJs.

Rick Sigmen brought up seismic requirements in Snohomish. I’ve run into this myself. The plans reviewer is requiring calculations proving the structure can withstand the forces of the sprinkler system during an earthquake. Rick ended up paying a structural engineer. Bill has done the same. For my money the structure is the owners problem. We calc our bracing to prove it will do it’s job given the type of structure we’re presented with. Whether that type of structure as designed will handle the system is the architect’s problem. This is like requiring the roofing contractor to prove the architect’s rafter design is strong enough to hold up the architect’s called out roofing materials. But it’s a business decision on your part as how to handle this. Just be aware of this issue in Snohomish. Oh, one last comment. If you’ve been in this business more than a couple of weeks you already know that what one jurisdiction is able to get away with due to contractor apathy or expediency others will soon follow. I planned to post the report on our website at but it was just to big. If you want it I can send you a zipped pdf.

Randy Knighton brought up a case of fraud wherein an inspector that used to work for him was representing himself as still working for Knight Fire and has caused Knight some bit of trouble. Since this was able to occur because of a glitch in the certification rules for inspectors we’ll be bringing this issue to the next TAG. More on the disposition of this issue to follow.

You will probably all recall that about two years ago we assessed ourselves an annual dues for our local chapter. Response was lukewarm at best but those few that did pony up (the regulars that attend the meetings and see the value in our chapter) helped us out of a cash flow problem caused by our scholarship generosity. In fact since that year we have been solvent but unable to support any charitable events due to lack of income. In order to be able to pay ourselves we have once again assessed an annual dues and have determined that those that choose not to pay will not be able to attend meetings and will be removed from the mailing list. The agreed upon annual amount will be $250.00 (half of the last assessment). This fee will be in addition to the cost of meals at the meetings in case you were wondering. It’s also for the local chapter only and is not in any way associated with your dues to the national organization

The next meeting will be at the usual place on May 13.

Bill McKay Advanced Fire
Rick Sigmen Commercial Fire
Ashton Wolfe Wolfe Plumbing
Mark Hoyt Blazemaster
Kevin Kane Viking Supply Net
Roger White Knight Fire
Randy Knighton Knight Fire
Ken Sirak Victaulic
Bill Cunningham Plumbco
Chris Johnson Bluewater Fire
Herb Schairbaum Bluewater Fire
Scott Haynes Bates Technical College (student)
Michael Balsey Advanced Fire
Ron Greenman Bates Technical College