Nov 23, 2020
Kyle MacKenzie, P.E. is an electrical engineer registered in the state of New York. Kyle works in construction and more specifically, high-rise occupancies. In this episode of Fire Code Tech, we discuss emergency power requirements for a number of difficult subjects, including fire alarm systems, fire pumps, elevators and high-rise occupancies.
How did you get started in the field 8:30
How is the perspective on installation valuable as an engineer? 11:20
What kind of work are you involved in your current role? 14:00
Would you give a high level overview of NFPA 70? 21:00
How does the National Electrical Code work in concert with the international family of codes? 23:00
Can you speak about the emergency power complexities with high-rise occupancies? 31:20
What are the emergency power requirements of fire pumps? 37:00
What are the emergency power requirements for fire alarm systems and those systems that are integrated with the system? 45:50
What are some trends in the industry? 49:00
Where do you see the industry heading in the future 52:30
What resources what you recommend to professionals 54:30
Hello, all welcome to the show. I'm Gus Gagliardi, and this is fire code tech on fire code tech. We interview fire protection professionals from all different careers and backgrounds in order to provide insight and a resource for those in the field. My goal is to help you become a more informed fire protection.
Professional fire code tech has interviews with engineers and researchers, fire marshals, and insurance professionals, and highlights topics like codes and standards, engineering systems, professional development, and trending topics in the industry. So if you're someone who wants to know more about fire protection or the fascinating stories of those who are in the field, you're in the right place on today's episode of fire code tech, we have Kyle McKenzie.
Kyle is an electrical engineer. And in this episode of fire code tech, we get into emergency power requirements and some of their complexities. In this episode of fire code tech, we address a couple of difficult design topics, including fire pump design, emergency power requirements for elevators in the intricacies of Highrise occupancies.
It's clear to see that Kyle has a great passion for electrical engineering and the codes and standards process. If you're looking to buff up on your emergency power requirements, knowledge, this episode is a deep dive on episode 17, a fire code tech. Kyle gives us a little bit of insight into his career and some learning moments that he's had.
Don't forget to subscribe to this show. So you never miss an episode and follow us on social. If you wanna reach out and talk about podcast, guest topics or sponsoring an episode of fire code tech, you can reach firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's dive into this show. No, it's, it's, it's unfortunate. We didn't hit record before and we're talking about podcasting and about how that me, that medium is really helpful, especially to busy people, busy parents, uh, busy working professionals.
Yeah, I think it's, uh, I just love your point about, it's easier to shoehorn it into the commute or the workout or folded laundry, or, you know, what, whatever it is you're doing, uh, Uh, yeah, I'm a, I'm a huge fan too, of the medium. So I just really resonate with that. I consume a lot of podcasts and I consider myself I don't have any kids, but I consider myself fair, fairly busy.
So yeah. I like what you're saying about that, but that's pretty interesting. So yeah. How did you, how did you find out about the podcast, sir? You know, what brought you, what brought you to it? Well, um, Chris Logan has a podcast and drew locum has a podcast that, that I was listening to before, uh, before.
Your podcast came online. So, um, while searching for their podcasts, I, I noticed your podcast and you had a lot of great content. And, um, now it's been one of the regular, your podcasts been one of the regular podcasts that I listened to. Wow. That's incredible that I, you know, it's, uh, I mean, that's the goal always, but you know, I don't always get to speak with individuals who are actually listening to the content.
So that's a little bit surreal for me. Um, you know, obvious how'd you get started how'd you get started into podcasting. So, uh, it's funny is like, I talk a little bit about this on. On drew slow Cub's episode. We just released for, uh, fire prevention week. But yeah, basically I was working like in the beginning.
Of 2019. And I was thinking, man, I really want to, I wanna do more with fire protection. I wanna create a resource. I want to, you know, help create content online about fire protection, because you know, getting into the industry I've been in, in the engineering specifically in fire protection for about three years and it's been.
It's been hard to reconcile the gaps in, you know, I, I was formally went to school for fire protection, but of course, uh, as any professional knows school and the job are two different things, so, right. Yeah. Just in the process of wanting to create some sort of content piece online and, you know, trying to fill the gaps between school and, you know, becoming a professional and learning how to be an engineer.
And that's kind of the Genesis of, uh, what was the, uh, start of the podcast. So yeah, it's, it's, it's kind of wild. Well, there's so much depth into our field, right? Where, you know, I'll listen to, I'll listen to, uh, architecture podcast and I listen to real estate podcast. I listen to podcasts from the fire service because when.
With everything I read and I listen to that is sort of out of the realm of electrical system design and fire alarm system design, but is necessary for me to understand. Yeah, I think it's interesting. And I use podcasts in a simpler, in a similar fashion, you know, in what I'm interested in and also the peripheral areas of, you know, what I'm interested in to contextualize and to provide nuance in what you're interested in.
So, you know, the architect's gonna have a different perspective or light on things than the engineer would. And yeah, I, I use them in a similar fashion and I think. And, uh, another one of the big reasons I wanted to do podcast is cuz I know that anybody who loves podcasts, doesn't just listen to one. They listen to a bunch of them, right.
Because you know, even one a week is not enough to say somebody who, you know, spends a lot of time in the car or, you know, like that's their preferred method of unwinding or finding entertainment. I think that was another, like part of it too. Well, we, my, my company is, is a mid-size company, right? We're about 25 people.
So, um, we all wear many hats, right? So in addition to electrical and fire alarm system design, I run multidisciplinary groups for. Large projects. We're pro uh, we're in the progress of designing. So in terms of mechanical systems, plumbing systems, um, fire protection. And so, and also in terms of business development and in terms of business in general.
So because of that, um, It's really important that I have a very large, uh, I think the words, breadth of knowledge, a breadth of knowledge base. And, um, if I all, if all I did was focus on learning about. Electrical engineering and not learning about all these other aspects of, of what, what I need to do in my occupation.
Um, I'd be missing out even soft skills too. You know, there's a lot of, there's a lot of great podcast content and also other types of content on, um, really focusing on your soft skills. Yeah. I think that's a great point. I think your story is a, is. One that is not uncommon in the industry. You know, it firms from small to mid, to even at large size, there can be a real diverse role for, um, engineers or fire protection engineers in specific have a.
Really broad range of capabilities and types of systems that they're involved with. So yeah, I understand what you're saying. Yeah. My company is, uh, it's fairly large as far as architecture and engineering firms go, uh, you know, like 170 people, but you know, we still only have, you know, Three fire protection engineers in the, or four fire protection engineers in the company.
So, I mean, that's still not a huge amount of places to go for, you know, excess stuff or different stuff, or, you know, varying perspective. So I understand what you're saying about being a part of a small shop and needing to broaden your horizons as far as, uh, what you need to be knowledgeable about. Yeah, it's a good, it's a good point for the people who don't know.
Can we get a little bit about your background and how you got into, uh, You know, the construction field at engineering Kyle? Sure, sure. Well, when I was in college, um, I first worked a couple summers for a general contractor, and then I was introduced to an electrician who needed a helper. And I worked during the day for this electrical contractor while I was going school at night.
And while I was working for the electrical electrical contractor, I was really, really interested in what I was doing. So, um, I quickly declared my major. Uh, think about sophomore year to be an electrical engineer and actually still keep in contact with, uh, the electrical con the electrical contractor, Bruce knighted from metropolitan electric.
You know, we'll, we'll talk every now and again. And, um, we'll bounce ideas off each other. We'll discuss electrical code sections and design and install problems. So I I've worked for, for Bruce for about a. And then, um, I then worked for a friend's father who was a mechanical contractor for two and a half years.
And I was doing a lot of, uh, H V a C controls and wiring and, and troubleshooting. Um, In that effort, uh, still while pursuing my electrical engineering degree at night. So about the middle of my senior year of college, I was hired by police chief consulting engineers as the construction administrator, because of my background, working for an electrician and a mechanical contractor.
Basically my main duties were. Site observations, punch list, reviewing shop drawings, answering RFIs, conducting surveys, that kind of stuff. Um, so while I was working construction administration, I was also pursuing a master's degree. And then after my master's degree, my professional engineering license, um, while.
In the construction admin effort. Uh, I noticed some mistakes made by, uh, one of the, by the, the electrical engineer for the company at the time. Um, at the time we were a small firm, so we had an electrical engineer and. And I brought that to the attention of the company president and, uh, long story short, that person was let go.
And my, myself and my boss took on that role of, uh, designing the electoral systems because, you know, for, for us quality control is of utmost important. So, um, even the smallest of era, you know, just, just doesn't cut it. So. The first, first job that, um, me and Thomas police, he sat down to design together. He says to me, by the end of this project project, you better be a freaking brain surgeon.
So , so I, I took that to heart and, um, you know, it, it was really important for me to, uh, fully learn and comprehend fire alarm and, uh, electrical systems. And. Yeah. Interesting. Very interesting. So the it's, uh, it's cool to hear about your, you know, your origin story and how you got to, uh, get a taste of, uh, how contracting works and, you know, get involved with the actual installation.
I, but that's a valuable perspective now that you are, um, working on the engineer. Engineering side of things and more the design side of things. I'm sure that, uh, paints a better picture for what the role looks like. You know, uh, now that you're on the architects and engineers side of the table, Yeah, it's been, it's been really, really helpful to understand, um, how to service and maintain equipment, uh, what the, what the process is for the actual installation.
When I, when I design I'm, I'm really able to, uh, fully visualize what, what I'm designing because of, of my history as an install. Yeah, that's awesome. I think it's, you know, I, I had a similar, uh, fortune of working for a fire suppression contractor right. Outta college. And I'm extremely thankful for that experience because, um, while I don't have as much knowledge as somebody who does it, you know, full time and has been doing it for.
You know, a decade or, or what, whatever amount of time, an extreme amount of time, I have a better idea of the physical constraints of the construction of that type of system. So I think it's a extremely valuable insight into the design process and, you know, realizing that, um, everything looks good in the model.
But, yeah. So, yeah, it sounds like you have an interesting role now at police consulting. Um, it'd be interesting for maybe those who aren't as aware of, you know, what the construction and, uh, the architects and engineering role is. Yeah. Maybe could you go a little bit deeper into. what's your work looks like, or, you know, uh, the kind of jobs that you're involved in.
Yeah, sure, sure. So, um, our company designs, the mechanical electrical plumbing, sprinkler, and firearm systems for commercial re and residential buildings, uh, mostly in the New York and New Jersey area, but we're licensed all over and. Uh, have done a ton of work all over the Eastern seaboard. Um, do the relationships we've fostered over the years.
A good majority of our work is buildings that just meet high-rise thresholds or a group of buildings that form a small sort of campus environment. So, um, we do quite a bit of work that is involved in, uh, emergency and standby power system design. Because we're, we're doing a lot of these, uh, smaller Highrise buildings or, or campus infrastructure that requires that knowledge base.
Um, we've also done quite a bit of residential MEP system design. You know, we've done some exciting work. Like I've worked on Goldman Sachs, executive offices, Ralph Loren apartment, uh, we've rebuilt the Nicker Nicker Boer hotel. But to be honest with you, I personally gravitate to projects that, um, Where there's different, different, interesting systems and problems involved.
Like I recently, uh, designed a balance power, isolated grounding system for a small 2,500 square foot recording studio. It was, uh, it was probably one of the most, um, interesting projects I've done to date. Interesting. So when you're saying like a balance power, isolated grounding system for, you know, what makes that project so interesting since it's so small, you know, as compared to, you know, some of the probably larger Highrise buildings that you've been involved with, why is that, uh, system or project, um, more.
Of a, uh, interest for you? Well, so well not to get too far into the technical details of a balanced power system, but your standard power system, um, your standard say 15:00 AM. Sepal right. You have, you have a hot and a neutral, you have. 120 volts go into your hot and your neutral is your return, right? And you have an equipment, equipment, ground as well, but a balanced power system is different.
So a balanced power system is a very specific system where you have an isolation transformer that, that spits out 62, 60 volt, um, two 60 volt phases. And so each year receptacles, instead of having, uh, a. Ungrounded conductor and a neutral, which will also call the grounded conductor. You have 60 volts going to, um, to each of those receptacles.
And so the, the design requirements are much, much different. So, um, The electrical code has very specific voltage drop requirements for those systems and very specific, uh, receptible installation requirements for those systems. So, uh, there's a whole, whole section of the NEC just, uh, set for that type of system and, um, to.
Apply that to a recording studio. Um, it was a gratifying experience. Interesting. So basically it sounds like since it's an alternative, um, type of, uh, electrical system in that, it sounds like there's also some added complexities. Um, In comparison to your conventional, um, electrical system or receptacle.
So yeah, that sounds interesting. Well, uh, sounds like you have, uh, a big, uh, emphasis or focus in your career on, uh, electrical systems and like emergency power, I think. Uh, yeah, that's something that I'm not as, as well, um, versed in as a, you know, a, more of a. Um, a fire protection, solely fire protection, uh, engineer, but it's interesting, um, to hear about your, your specialty in work.
And it seems like a fairly common thing to run into electrical engineers who, uh, are involved with fire alarm work well, in, in addition to my work at FEI, I'm also, uh, working with New York city. Um, On a voluntary effort to write amendments to the 2014 national electrical code and the specific articles of the code that, um, myself and a, and a team of engineers and electricians that that are working on is 707 0 1 7 0 2.
So those, so those areas of the code that. Specifically deal with emergency power. Interesting. Very interesting. That's cool that you're involved in like, uh, is it like a code committee or how would you describe the, the, uh, the group you're working with to write these amendments? Yeah, we're, we're a code, right?
We're a code, an appointed code writing committee. And then I also attend, um, code interpretation meetings for, for New York city as well, where, uh, electrical, contractors and electrical. Engineers will submit questions and, or sign off reconsiderations and stuff like that. And we will, uh, we'll review and we'll provide direction based on the electrical code.
I've I've always, um, ever since I got involved in this industry, you know, I've really consider myself, uh, um, An electrical code person. That's, that's probably what, uh, my strong suit is. And what I'm most interested in is, and when I'm, when I'm on a job site or I'm in a meeting and someone says this is up to code or this doesn't meet code.
And then, and then they don't say, well, the section I'm referencing is XX X of XXX. Um, When they don't say that I end up spending all night long, uh, trying to find that specific code section and fully understand what they meant by this is this is up to code or that doesn't meet code. And, and to be honest, my wife doesn't really like those appreciate those kind of nights.
So. Yeah, that seems to be a catch phrase in the industry in general that's code or it's code. And so that's, that's funny that you say that. Yeah. I resonate with the somebody who is, uh, concerned with the code and. I'm a self profess code nerd myself. So awesome. I understand, for sure. Yeah. For I'm sure most people are aware of what the NEC is, but yeah, maybe for those who don't know or are only marginally aware of what the national electric code is.
Yeah. Would you give like a high level overview of what that document is? All right. So NFPA 70 now in the 2020 version is, uh, is a model code created by the national fire protection association. That's referenced by, uh, referenced and written into law by all 50 states. Um, A lot of the states amend the code like here in New York city.
Um, we're in the process of, of making amendments to the code cycle that we reference, which is NEC 2014. So actually right now we're on 2008 and we're blasting off into the future if, uh, all the way to 2014, um, the NEC is very much an installation, um, installation. Requirement document, whereas something like NFPA one 10 NFPA, one 11 is more performance based so that the, the way that an engineer or an installer accomplishes a goal is.
Is to meet a performance requirement or that type of standard or NFPA 20 is similar, but the NEC is, is much more of a, a very black and white installation, uh, requirement standard. Huh? That's very interesting. Appreciate that definition. Yeah. I was thinking about it recently. You know how there's of course there's requirements in I B C I C and IM C for, um, you know, electrical requirements.
But yeah, I guess if it feels kind of strange to me is there's no, like there's no. Is there an international electrical code as well? I guess I've just never had to look in that or does. N FPA 70, really more of the, the go to when it comes to the installation or, yeah. How does that code structure work above, uh, the national electric code.
Okay. All right. Um, well I think, I think it's, it'd be easiest because we're talking about, uh, emergency power and standby, standby systems that I delve into how all those, all those codes interate right. So. Um, I was actually before our interview, I spent a lot of time trying to find a good resource for what a good process would be for determining what the emergency and standby requirements, uh, for a property would be.
And I didn't really find anything that, that gave a step by step process. So, um, In to answer your question, but also to provide my, to provide my process. What, what I first do, um, would be to look at the type of structure, uh, from the international building code. So, and then building types, such as high rise buildings, underground buildings, buildings with atriums have specific emergency and standby power requirements or.
Require equipment that then requires emergency or standby power. Um, also if the municipality adopts NFP 1 0 1, the life safety code, then I'll also have to look at the requirements, the article associated with that, with the property, for that document, because they, they may be, um, different. And in, in addition to the I B C requirements, Then I would go over to chapter chapter 27 of IBC, which is the emergency and standby power requirements of the international building code.
And which states that emergency systems shall automatically provide secondary power within 10 seconds and provide for a two hour duration, unless otherwise not. And standby systems automatically provide power within 60 seconds and provide for a two hour duration unless otherwise noted. And the unless otherwise noted is really important because, um, There because that's not the, the end.
There's a lot more to figuring out what their emergency and standby power requirements are based on, um, other codes and standards. So. We next then have to look at the systems that we are providing for the property and see what the emergency and standby power requirements are because several of those systems have emergency and standby power requirements that exceed chapter 20, 27 of IBC.
You know, several areas of IBC and several areas of N F P standards for each systems such as NFP 20 NFP, 72 indicate the level, the type and the class of the alternate source. And also if indicate if the alternate source is to be treated as. An emergency or standby power source. So where it states that, um, in the NFPA standards and the IBC is it's a direct reference to NFPA one 10 and NFPA one 11 NFPA one 10, and one 10 is emergency and standby requirements for, um, for basically generators and NFPA.
One 11 is the emergency and standby requirements for basically battery systems. So level describes the. Performance requirements of system, such as, um, type of enunciation type of reliability of the fuel source. For example, um, level one requires remote enunciation while level two does not, or, and level one systems.
Uh, if it's a generator require, uh, a reliable fuel source type describes how quickly the secondary power source will power the. For instance, a typo, um, type is a ups system with absolutely no downtime. And then, uh, a type M is manual class is the duration of the fuel, um, or battery set, battery source.
Class X means to that. You have to look at the applicable code standard. For instance, N FPA 20, um, is a class is fire pump to class X and they require eight hours. Now it's important to note though, that that N FPA 20 N FPA one 10 also requires an 133% safety factor. To be taken when calculating these fuel supplies.
So it takes into account fuel for testing fuel sitting at the bottom of the tank. That's not gonna be used. So an eight. So an eight hour fuel source is really 10 and a half hours when you're actually sizing that, uh, fuel oil tank. Now. Emergence when, where emergency and standby are stated in applicable codes and standards.
This is a direct reference to NFPA 70 wire requirements. Emergency systems are wired in accordance with any C seven C article 700 and standby systems in accordance with N C 7 0 1, unless modified by the applicable standard, such as, uh, NFPA 20 has very specific. Wiring and installation requirements and NFPA 72 does as well.
Um, I think there's a lot of MIS information out there regarding what a level one and level two system is. I've I've seen a lot of references, um, in articles I've read that says that level one is article 700 and level two is article is article 7 1 7 0 1. And, um, That's not fully correct. For instance, uh, fire service elevators require type 60 class two level one, standby power.
Um, in addition level two systems do not require a reliable fuel source where, whereas. Article 7 0 1 specifically indicates 7 0 1, which is legally required. Standby systems. And if NFPA 70 specifically indicates that a reliable fuel source is required, um, for a generator. Yeah. I think it's really interesting for me to hear you describe the process of navigating the I B C and how that relates to, uh, reference codes and standards.
Yeah, it's, it's interesting. These are the kind of, you know, sort of formulaic approaches that, uh, I find really interesting. And you know, why I'm surprised that, uh, you know, I, I think, uh, it kind of blows me away that there wouldn't be an article out there stating what you just, you know, kind of laid down as a.
Basically, uh, a formula for how to approach the building code and how to evaluate emergency power systems, um, as a component of the building code investigation. And yeah, I like what you're talking about. You know how chapter 27 is specifically about emergency power, but also in the same way that you evaluate other buildings.
There are special occupancy requirements in, uh, chapter four. And, uh, yeah, it's interesting, but yeah, I've never heard it described like that before. Yeah, it'd be nice. If there was some sort of checklist, maybe we could create one gust. we should, we should, for sure. Yeah. at very time be twist in your arm after this to, you know, break down that, break down that again, or maybe I'll just transcribe it, but, uh, yeah, no, that was awesome.
But, uh, you know, we've talked about, uh, high rise a couple times, but, um, yeah, there's also some interesting, um, Different emergency power requirements and complexities with Highrise. Uh, yeah. Would you mind speaking a little bit about that? Yeah, sure. You know, Highrise buildings operate different than non Highrise buildings.
Since the fire service cannot access the upper floors of a property by using, um, The integral ladders in the fire trucks and the pumping apparatus, the fire of the fire engine may, might not have the capacity for really tall buildings to pump to the upper floors of the property. Power must be present so that the fire service can navigate through elevators and they could use the, the fire pump for, um, to flow through the sandpit.
Um, in addition, Additional emergency power is needed for the fire alarm system in a Highrise building because, uh, Highrise buildings use partially VA partially evacuation voice communication systems while as small smaller buildings, um, have full evacuation. So, so for a fire alarm system, where only. A portion of the building is, is being evacuated.
It's important that additional power is, is there to, um, notify everyone in the building what's going on. Um, it's also imperative for a system such as stair pressurization to allow safe, safe egress out of, you know, an extremely strong, tall structure that. That may may lose power in the event of a catastrophe.
Interesting. Yeah. It's uh, so high rise is, uh, chapter in the IBC and for those who don't know, I think it's, you know, it probably depends on what version that the IBC have adopted, but I think it's like chapter 4 0 3 and yeah, 4 0 3. You're right. That's right. Yeah. And then once you get into chapter 4 0 3, the building code, you.
It immediately starts to escalate the amount of, uh, fire protection and life safety measures that are required for the building. So egress true, right? Yeah. Egress, um, will have what fire protection systems are required. So then you have a voice system required as compared to, uh, just a horn and STR system.
Right? The stairwell pressurization you mentioned before. Um, yeah. There's. So smoke control requirements. Uh, sometimes if you have atria or there's some kind of nebulous, um, smoke evacuation requirements, but yeah, here in New York here in New York city, um, if you have a high rise, you also, you also require what's, what's called an auxiliary rate of communication system, which is, which is your equivalent of an emergency responder radio coverage system.
So, yeah, so that's like, And amplify our system for the emergency radio coverage. And so, yeah, it's interesting because depending on where you're working, you could be working in jurisdiction. Like you just referenced that, uh, directly requires that sort of system. And then in other jurisdictions you may be able to, uh, get a waiver or maybe they're not, they don't, they have good enough coverage from there.
Emergency radio, uh, antennas where they won't need an amplifier system for the building. So yeah, that's something to be aware of for sure. It's a costly endeavor to retrofit one of those systems into a building most, most certainly but yeah, so, uh, on the, in the same vein of, uh, Vein of the, you know, emergency power requirements.
I, I loved hearing you talk about it in chapter 27, how the, the secondary power within 10 re second requirement, I was recently just at a fire pump, um, initiation test, or a preliminary acceptance test for a fire pump. And we were having, uh, you know, some trouble, they had to modify the delay in the, uh, transfer from.
Uh, fire pump controller to the, to the generator in order to get that time under 10 seconds. Yeah, they had, they had, they had to, they had to modify the, um, settings on the automatic voltage regulator. Yeah. So they there's some parameter within the controller that they had to, um, adjust in order to meet that requirement.
But I wasn't it's, it's actually, it's, it's three parameters. It's it's time, speed and force and torque. So the, the generator, the generators and motor and the ultimate automatic voltage regulator, the technician's able to go in there and, um, Mess around with those three variables till to make sure that it, it lines up with, uh, With the, the way that the fire pump controllers starting the fire pump, but it's also important that it's, that that correspondence is set up in a way that, um, the fire pump could also start in, uh, emergency runs, starting mode.
That's awesome. Yeah, we just wanted to, you know, expand upon the, uh, the requirements for fire pump and fire pump design. I know. um, whenever you have, uh, a fire pump, you're getting into NFPA 20, which kind of goes in line with what you were talking about earlier. You are getting into some different NFPA standards that have additional, um, power and, uh, emergency power implications.
So, yeah. I didn't know if you had any more, uh, food for thought on that topic. Yeah, sure. Um, fire pumps are required per NFPA. 20 fire pumps are required to have level one type 10 class X power. Um, When the utility source either the utility source is not reliable. The building is either a high rise or an underground building as per IC.
Um, or the pumping apparatus, the fire engine cannot reach occupied floors, which as per NFPA, 20 is, is, uh, NPA. Twentys appendix says that, um, that's typically 200 to 300 feet for most fire services. So, uh, Properties would require emergency power anyways, due to the Highrise building requirement. Um, so in terms of the reliability of the utility, uh, NFPA 20 requires that if the power plant has been down for more than, um, 10 continuous hours, which recently was Chan, it used to be, uh, moisture.
It used to be be four hours in the year prior to the. Uh, submittal of the plants to the building department or power outages have plagued that area of the protected facil facility or, or if the utility infrastructure is an overhead, um, power line, like a, a radial type distribution, which would not allow the fire services, fire trucks to perform their, um, Aerial operations from my, my understanding is that most fire services try to maintain a 10 foot distance from over overhead lines.
And in a, in a worst case scenario, uh, they would have the utility shut down the power, um, to that radial network. And they'd then physically cut the lines so they could access the upper floors of the building and get in there. Um, In also in terms of reliability, NFPA one 10 requires that level one power systems, which as I just said, uh, the generator for the fire pump has to be a level one power system.
Um, must be fed from a reliable, uh, off must be fed from a, a reliable offsite fuel source or onsite fuels and NFP. One 10 states that unreliable sources are sources that. Don't tra traverse through an area of high seismic activity or an area flow to flooding or an area that's been deemed reliable by, by the serving utility.
So when we design, um, to determine if a, uh, if the power source and the fuel is reliable, um, We need to get that information from the serving utility. So, uh, a couple years ago I really ate some Crow and I really put my foot in my mouth about seven, eight years ago. Um, I was working for a new university that had a campus of, uh, several buildings most with.
Uh, natural gas generators. And I was walking through the campus with a head facility as an engineer, and I noted to him that, um, natural gas was not a permitted fuel source for emergency lighting in the fire pumps. And that I think most of his buildings didn't meet code. And, uh, boy was I incorrect. So the municipalities I worked in.
Before, uh, before dealing with this property, uh, did not consider natural gas, reliable, fuel source, but both the both NEC and NFPA one 10 allow natural gas when, um, It's it's improbable that interruption of both the gas and the electric utility will occur occur simultaneously. So three days later, he sends me two letters.
One from the utility saying that gas is reliable and has not been UN interrupted in over 10 years. And one from the local do B uh, approving the letter from the, uh, locally from the utility. That was a learning experience. Yeah, that's a good one. It's interesting. You, you get in these, uh, jurisdictions that have a high amount of specific amendments or requirements you can get used to providing this, uh, very specific level of coverage and system.
Uh, yeah. I don't know. I I'm working with somebody now. Who's. Done a lot of work in Clark county and Las Vegas. And you know, when you get into these jurisdictions that have, you know, it's almost like you're, you're doing work in a, in a different country. There's so much amendments. So it's easy to do what you're just saying.
When you, you get used to these, uh, specific jurisdictional requirements, but, uh, yeah. So, uh, we talked about it a little bit. Yeah, I know this, not on the script, but I thought I'd ask about, uh, yeah. What, what about, um, what's your take on. Elevators and the, you know, um, what's required for elevators or shunt tripping of, of elevators and yeah, the electrical design for that, it seems like the complexities associated with elevators is always a point of.
Uh, contention or consternation on my part, um, trying to nail down the work associated with, uh, providing the sprinkler coverage slash uh, all the, uh, fire alarm devices necessary in order to, um, accomplish, uh, fully designing the. Electrical and fire protection systems for an elevator. Well, it depends on if you have a attraction elevator or hydraulic elevator, right?
When you have a hydraulic elevator, um, the hydraulic fluid could be, could be flammable. So in, in some cases, based on the, the makeup of the hydraulic hydraulic fluid, you need sprinkler protection in that elevator shaft. And then, um, when you have sprinkler protection in that elevator shaft, you need, you need to, uh, You need to be able to, when the sprinkler sprinkler heads activate to protect that elevator shaft, um, you need to be able to sh you need to be able to, to turn off the elevator.
So you're not having water and electricity at the same time. Um, it's usually done through a heat detector at the top of the shaft. Yeah, it's just, uh, yeah, that's a, that's a great synopsis. It's, uh, just always a pain trying to navigate the, uh, elevator code and, you know, go through the, uh, order of operations for, you know, is it hydraulic or is it electrical traction, you know, are the belts combustible, you know, Is, you know, if it's got hydraulic fluid, you know, is there a sprinkler in the, in the pit and the up high, you know, and right then, you know, what's in the, what devices are in the shaft.
Is it smoke and heat or is it just smoke or heat, but yeah, it's, uh, it's, uh, it's quite the GABA, but yeah, I appreciate your, uh, synopsis on it because it's just, uh, it's always something that I, I could never remember. Some stuff is real easy to remember. Like, you know, whether. Require, uh, duct detectors or not for, you know, uh, IMC buildings, but uh, other stuff.
It just seems like every time you gotta go back and look at the notes and look at the code. Well, the other, other, other big requirement is, is the allowance that, um, when you have, when you have an elevator bank in these large buildings, New York city has a different, has more stringent requirement, but IBC, if you have a large building with, uh, six elevators in one bank controlled by a common operating system that, uh, you would you'd size your gen generator based on only one of those, one of those elevators in that bank.
And that. Um, in the case with power failure, all those, all those elevators would, would return down to the ground floor or the sky sky lobby level. If, if the ground floor wasn't the true ground floor. And, um, then. At the elevator control panel, you'd have the option of toggling back and forth between, uh, which elevator would be the elevator to be provided with, um, standby power.
Interesting. I didn't know that. Um, so I wanted to touch a little bit about touch on a little bit of requirements for integrated Sy system seems to be a big topic in the industry, right? and, um, yeah, but are there any, um, emergency power requirements for integrated systems or, you know, systems that are associated.
With the systems like the, the fire alarm system? Well, the there's very, there's very, very specific, uh, emergency power requirements for fire alarm systems and for, uh, and four systems that are interconnected with the, um, with the fire alarm system, uh, N FPA 72 has a couple different options for, um, emergency power.
One of the options is. Using a ups type energy storage system, which would be, um, NFPA 1 10, 1 11 type O class 24 level one, um, or using the same, the same, um, the same ups, but with class four. So there's only, uh, four hours of battery with a, uh, a level one class 24 generator. So the generator, um, has. 24 hours has 24 hours of fuel.
Um, the. Other option would be a storage battery with the ability to operate the system under a non alarm condition for 24 hours. Then after that, uh, a period of either five minutes or 15 minutes in alarm mode, depending on the system type, like, uh, voice communication. Systems, as we said before, had, um, need more power.
They need to be on for 15 minutes after that alarm, uh, non alarm condition. So after those 24 hours of not being an alarm, the system has to still be able to function for that, that 15 minutes. And, uh, here, here in New York city, um, we've amended that to be 45 minutes. And then the other option is the same storage battery with the ability to operate the system under, uh, but under non alarm conditions for only four hours.
But to be backed up by a, uh, type 10 class, 24, um, level one generator. So. The fuel requirements for the generator are also very specific to fire alarm systems. So in addition to this 24 hour requirement, the fuel supply also needs to include, um, six months of testing reserve and, uh, onsite. However, onsite fuel is not required.
If the, if natural gas is considered reliable and the seismic Rick's category of the property is not, um, zone three or greater. So because of the difficulties meeting the above requirements for a system, using a generator with an onsite fuel source, because you're getting into a very, very large, large tank to meet that 24 hour fuel requirement.
What, what would, uh, what would happen is you'd either work with your, uh, generator vendor and discuss control methods for load shed, or, um, You'd ha you'd use the, the 24 hour battery. Awesome. Well, I wanted to get into some professional development topics before I let you go. But yeah, I just want to always love asking people, um, what they view as a, a trend in the industry.
You know, I, I know we've talked about, uh, a lot of different topics on, uh, our emergency power, but yeah, I just wanted to hear a little bit about that from. Well, you know, the biggest hate to state the obvious, but the biggest, uh, I guess the biggest trend in the industry right now in consulting engineering is probably working from home.
You know, we, right now we have pro program. We use programs such as bin 360 VPN Microsoft teams. It's, it's so much easier to, uh, work remotely than it ever has been before. And, um, you know, we're finding that. Our employees are just as efficient or in some case, even more efficient when working from home.
Uh, one thing I'm really nervous about that I see happening in all this is that the rift between construction teams and design teams is growing deeper. So with all the construction meetings becoming remote, whereas, you know, we're calling in or we're, um, We're doing ver we're doing, uh, virtual meetings for construction.
Um, we have, we have less of a chance to interface with, uh, the contractors and then. It, it seems that one of my concerns is that it's going to become more of a us versus them scenario, especially on a project that, um, is your standard design bid, build construction agreement, you know, like that stuff like, um, integrated project delivery or, uh, Or, um, design assist is a little different, but, uh, most, most of the projects that I work on are design bid build.
Yeah. It's, it's interesting. Uh, Seems like, uh, in the, maybe it's just the projects that my companies work on. It seems like we're, uh, more and more projects that are designed build in instead of the conventional design bid build, but oh, right. Yeah. I, I like that commentary about, uh, You know, um, how communication and just like keeping the, the team consolidated and you know, of the same mindset of being we're on a team, let's get this, you know, project delivered, um, well is, can be a, a challenge.
Yeah. I, I per I personally try to go outta my way to, to get on site and, and to meet with the contractors and, and, uh, to, to meet with the construction manager, if there is one, um, Just to, just to have some FaceTime, to show that, you know, I, I didn't just put out this set of documents and now you have to, you have to build it that, um, you know, here's the, here's the reason that we, we show what we show on paper and, um, And also to hear, uh, the contractors' input.
Definitely. I think that's a good, I think that's a good deal. You know, I, it's easy to get into the mindset of us versus them and, you know, not being in a collaborative, uh, a team role, you know, Even in design build, I design bid build. I think it's important. So that's a good point. So, so yeah. So another topic that, uh, I find interesting is just looking at fire protection and the construction industry and fire and life safety as a whole, and just, you know, thinking about where it's gonna go in the future.
You know, five, 10 years from now. Um, but yeah, I didn't know if you had any thoughts on that. I'm really hoping that they, they make the change to wireless fire alarm systems that they've made to wireless lighting control systems. So wireless lighting control systems have this 10 year battery. Right? So, uh, And most of the wireless lighting control products on the market.
Have it now, so that if, if you design say a lighting control system for an office building, then the, the batteries within those devices, uh, Can wait 10 years or maybe eight years to be swapped out because at least from the products I've researched for, uh, wireless fire alarm systems, the everything I've seen, all the swift wireless fire alarm systems have two year batteries.
So it it'd be, it'd be nice if that, if a ch, if that change gets made, where they then have that 10 year battery, and then you're. You're not having that savings, that capital expenditure sta savings, which then becomes, uh, an operational expenditure every, every two years, which quickly adds up. Interesting.
I've never, I've never heard about that. That's uh, That's an interest interesting trend. I, would've never known about that. Um, colleges want to end with, uh, one question, um, and just ask, you know, what resources would you recommend to professionals, um, in the industry or just in fire and life safety in general?
Yeah. Where, where would people go if they wanted to learn more about, um, emergency power requirements or, uh, Engineering or life safety in general? Yeah. Sure, sure. Um, I've really liked Paul Abernathy's podcast and his articles for, uh, comprehensive reviews of specific, um, code requirements. He delves into.
He'll he'll state the code section and then he'll give, uh, a whole dialogue about that specific code section. I also think, um, for electrical engineers, sore is grounding and bonding and the IAAA, uh, gray book, or really must haves. I read 'em both, um, cover to cover. Uh, I think one of the best probably the best resource one could have is to grow yourself in a network of, um, Experts outside of your organization who have, uh, the expertise, certain expertise that, that you, you personally don't have, you know, and it's, it's really a give and take, um, relationship that you have to build because, uh, you don't wanna just reach out to someone to ask them questions.
You want to reach out to them to ask them questions and then have the, have you have them ask you questions back and by. By you providing insight to their problems. You you're, you're building this rapport that, um, that you're there for them. And they're there for you. Um, one of the, probably one of the best things that has happened to me, um, in my career is, is, uh, I befriended a, um, An electrical contractor.
Who's, um, been in the business for, you know, over 40 years and, uh, has a high standing in, um, the co-development process in New York city. And we. Uh, we both talk fairly regularly, um, about codes and standards and, um, bouncing ideas off each other, and even sometimes just trading more stories. And I think we've really grown our, uh, expertise because of it.
That's a great tip. Yeah. I appreciate the resources. And as always, I think that making connections within the industry is always important and that collaborative, uh, Education and growth is it's, uh, it's unparalleled. It can't be beat. So that's awesome. Well, Kyle, I wanna thank you so much for your time and coming on the show and just say, yeah, thanks.
Thanks for coming. And I really enjoyed it. Gus. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having, having me. I really appreciate it. Thanks for listening. Everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business. The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes and standards interpretation.
Be sure to contact a licensed professional. If you are getting involved with fire protection and or life safety. Thanks again. And we'll see you next.