Plumbing & Fire Protection Engineering

Improving health and safety of your buildings and staff through plumbing and fire protection.

Plumbing and Fire Protection design services cover a surprising amount of ground. They help you optimize everything from drinking water to supplying heating equipment with enough natural gas, propane or fuel oil to run your heating system in the dead of winter. Plumbing and Fire Protection Engineering also implements hard won societal lessons that help keep disease and fire losses out of your building. In short, plumbing and fire protection engineering makes people’s lives better. They serve your Building Occupants be they infants, students, patients, employees or senior citizens.

Talk to a LaBella Expert

Jeff Davis, PE
Senior Plumbing Engineer
Rochester, NY - Headquarters

(585) 770-2562

Theodore Sherwood, PE, CFPS, LEED AP
Plumbing & Fire Protection QA/QC Manager
Rochester, NY - Headquarters

(585) 770-2518

Jeff Nagle, PE
Senior Plumbing Engineer
Great Lakes Region

(716) 710-3040 x7117

Mike Grose, PE
Senior Plumbing Engineer
Southeast Region

(704) 941-2122

Service Offerings

Fire Protection Design

Fire Protection Design is fitting reliable, healthy and sustainable suppressants and distribution systems into buildings to “knock down” fires and allow occupants to exit the building, the protection of inventory, equipment and the building itself until the First Responders, or Firefighters, arrive. It involves knowledge of Local and National Codes, which system is the most appropriate for the building fire load(s) to be protected, calculations and in some cases computer analysis of fluid flow and pipe losses.

We have extensive experience in wet pipe system. dry pipe systems, hose standpipes, nitrogen fill, clean agent systems, fire pumps, aerosol systems and the evaluation of fire protection water supplies.

Sanitary Systems and Drainage

Building Plumbing Design helps keeps buildings and their occupants healthy, by conveying wastes to a system that can isolate and treat the effluent. This function is so critical that it used to be regulated by health departments rather than plumbing inspectors. This is because typhoid, dysentery, gastroenteritis, and cholera are just a few of the diseases that can be spread by improperly installed sanitary and drainage systems.

Today, in addition to sending wastewater where it is supposed to go, we are also removing gasoline, oil, grease, acid and other contaminants than cause fires, environmental problems, fatbergs (major clogs) and destroy dialysis drains respectively.

Backflow Prevention

Adding backflow preventers to most commercial buildings is a relatively recent requirement in plumbing design. Generally, they are added when State Health Departments deem the processes and/or chemicals in a building are hazardous enough to merit installation of a mechanical valve(s) in the building to protect the public water supply from the hazard. The rigor of this additional layer of regulatory oversite varies from State to State and from County to County.

Backflow prevention approvals can vary from just another valve the Plumber installs to a stand-alone package containing: a site plan, plumbing drawing(s), and Licensed Engineer’s Report reviewed by the local health department and the water provider.  Drawing on our decades of experience, we can help you navigate this often-confusing approval.

Gas Piping

Natural gas piping design normally starts from the gas pressure available “in the street” from the Gas Provider, or utility company and ends at whatever gas fired appliance are needed by the other design team members. Other times larger “campuses” own private, elevated (higher) pressure site distribution systems.

In the latter case we design the actual gas service including the service regulator(s), over pressure prevention device (OPPD), gas meter and valving normally done by the Utility. When natural gas is not available, we can assist by designing propane or fuel oil systems.

Storm Systems

Water is the enemy of buildings. If stormwater is repeatedly misdirected, it can damage plaster walls, wood floors, undermine structural footings, cause exterior ice spalling (surface damage) and cause mold growth.

Only three things are needed to grow mold; mold spores, nutrients and water. Unfortunately, mold spores are all around us in the air and dust is a nutrient to mold. Water the only thing we can control to prevent sick building syndrome due to mold. Let us help you avoid all this with properly designed storm drainage.

Rainwater Collection Systems

Also known as rainwater harvesting, this sustainable technology involves collecting rainwater in an underground tank or in an aboveground skid, pumping it through the appropriate filtration and treatment where it is then used for irrigation or other uses.  Certain LEED Credits may be enhanced or obtained with this approach.

Code Compliance Review

Code compliance review starts with determining which codes apply. We start with a “bottoms up” approach. We find and read the local ordinance from the Town or City where your project is located.

In the US, neither a State Code nor the International Plumbing Code applies unless the local ordinance says so. We then look at the “Reference Standards” Chapter of the applicable State Code for the correct national standards such as ASSE 1070 (mixing  valves on public handwashing  sinks). There are also several a “top down” Federal Codes such the OSHA/ANSI requirement for “tepid” (60 deg F to 100 deg F) water in eyewashes and safety showers.

Last but not least, one Code Enforcement Official in one jurisdiction may interpret a code section differently than another Code Enforcement Official in another jurisdiction. A good code compliance review requires experience and knowledge all of these steps.

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