Hospital Fires: What are the hazards?

hospital fires

In 1929, a Cleveland clinic fire killed 120 people when they ignored NFPA recommendations for storing their x-ray film (made of nitrocellulose).  Several tons were stored in the basement, a few feet away from a heat source.  When nitrocellulose reaches 300 degrees, it turns into an explosive gas.  The heat source caught the film on fire and toxic, explosive gas spread through the floorboards, causing explosions throughout the hospital.

Since 1929, fire and building code has changed a lot in hospitals.  In 1980-1984, data shows that an average of 7,100 hospital fire happened annually with 5 deaths per year.  In the study for 2006-2010, fires in hospitals went down to 1,400 with an average of 1 death per year.

The main reason fires reduced in hospitals so much during this time was smoking being banned from hospitals.  When that ban took effect, fires caused by smoking materials in hospitals went from 35% to 7%. 

Currently, the top causes of fires in hospitals are

·      Electrical Equipment

Hospitals have a lot of electrical equipment, and often have overworked sockets and cables.  They sometimes use extension cords and daisy chain them together, which is a violation.

·      Kitchen Facilities

Fires in kitchen facilities are common because of cooking fats, electrical ovens, toasters and open flames.

·      Cigarette Smoke

While cigarettes are banned in healthcare facilities now, people still sneak them or, while smoking outdoors, don’t properly dispose of them. 

·      Specialized Medical Equipment

Lasers and electrosurgical tools are an ignition hazard, especially near oxygen tanks, surgical clothing, and flammable sterilizing liquids.

A study done on fire code violations in hospitals showed that the top fire safety violations were

·      Extension Cord Daisy Chains

Because of the need to have equipment plugged in, hospitals will use extension cords and daisy chain them together, which is a violation and can cause them to become overheated, sparking a fire.

·      Fire Door Compliance

The Fire Marshal who collected data of the most violations in hospitals said that many fire doors were not closing or latching correctly.  They also had holes in them, which would cause them to no longer be fire proof.

·      Fire Exit Obstructions

Carts, wheel chairs, and medical equipment were found blocking fire exit doors.

 

·      Hand Sanitizers

Alcohol based hand rubs are all over hospitals.  However, they are flammable and need to have a 6-foot breadth between the sanitation station and any ignition sources.

 

·      Gas Cylinders and Medical Oxygen Compliance

Gas cylinders and medical oxygen need to be properly stored and secured.

 

·      Portable Fire Extinguishers

Portable fire extinguishers were missing, obstructed, improperly mounted, previously discharged, past due inspection, improperly signed, or not enough were in the hospital.

From 2009-2013, only 4% of fires went beyond the point of origin thanks to the increase in fire sprinklers.  Today, 79% of hospitals are protected by fire sprinklers and it has greatly reduced the spread of fires and fire-related death in hospitals.

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Trench Safety - Is trench safety being ignored in construction?

Is trench safety being ignored in construction-.jpg

Kansas City -- Last year, D.J. Meyer died in a trench accident while working for a plumbing company.  That company received $700,000 in fines from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA claims that the company seriously and willfully neglected the trench safety rules.  

Jordan Barab, the former deputy assistant secretary of labor for OSHA said this is, "sad and infuriating.  He continued, "Being put in a position to choose between your jobs and your life is not a position anyone should be in."

 

The White House has not appointed a permanent leader for OSHA and this has caused some issues for the department.  OSHA's rule making agenda has been cut in half by the current administration.  On top of these issues, the administration also cut the budget for OSHA.  OSHA is at a point where they are considering rolling back regulations because they don't have the budget to implement them.

What can companies do to keep their workers safe in trenches?

OSHA requires that all trenches have a means to prevent cave-ins by 

  • Sloping or benching - forming an incline on the sides of an excavation.
  • Shoring - Using site built structures made with timbers, planks, or plywood to support the sides of an excavation.
  • Shielding - Using trench boxes or trench shields to prevent the walls from collapsing.

Read more of the trench safety regulations here.

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Infographic: The Ultimate Fire Safety Guide for Young Families

family fire safety

Every twenty-five seconds, a fire department responds to a fire.  That is especially scary when you have children that live in your property.  In fact, 60,000 children die in fire and fire-related events each year.

To keep children safe in your property, make sure all smoke alarms in the complex are working.  In addition, having a clear fire plan is important.  Have the plan posted at all exits.

Residents in apartment buildings can help keep their building safe from fire by always being present when the oven/stove is in use, burning candles safety, professionally repairing appliances with electrical issues, and not smoking in the residence.

See more safety fits in this infographic by Contractor Quotes.

fire-safety-for-kids-infographic.jpg

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Honolulu Postpones Actions to Require Fire Sprinklers

Honolulu fire sprinkler regulations.jpg

Honolulu -- The Honolulu City Council has postponed needed actions to move a bill forward that would require fire sprinklers in older high-rise buildings.  Recently, a 36-story high-rise fire killed three people in Honolulu.  The high-rise did not have fire sprinklers.

Council members made the decision to wait for more information from the Honolulu Fire Department before making a decision.  They did, however, hear from apartment owners on fixed budgets who said they would rather live with the risks than pay to retrofit fire sprinklers.

Councilwoman Kymberly Marcos Pine is concerned about the homeless population and the possibility that it could increase if homeowners can't afford to retrofit.  "My concern is we have some of the highest homeless population per capita, and it's never a good thing if we have a government mandate on people.  So how can we solve this problem that we all agree needs to be solved without hurting people?"

Right now, Honolulu has a law that fire sprinklers need to be installed in all buildings built after 1975.  To approve the bill that would add fire sprinklers to newer builds, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell wants to find a way to make fire sprinklers more affordable to low-income homeowners.

Read more about this at U.S. News.

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Is it time for a career change? Learn about the fire protection design career path.

fire protection design

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a fire protection designer?  F.E. Moran Fire Protection has a design training program to learn how to be a fire protection designer from the best of the best. 

I interviewed Cordell Beache and Wayne Conrad, our main fire protection designer trainers.

 

1.      You two are both fire protection design trainers.  What is your favorite part about being a trainer?

Cordell Beache (CB):  I derive a great deal of pleasure seeing someone progress from not knowing anything about fire protection, to developing into a legitimate designer.

Wayne Conrad (WC):  I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned, and seeing designers apply what they’ve been taught.

2.     In your experience, what qualities do great fire protection designers have?

CB:  A good mechanical aptitude is essential and a strong desire to learn.  The ability to communicate well. The fire protection industry does not get as much recognition as most other mechanical professions. There are opportunities to learn the required skills through online or in classroom courses. However it is incumbent that someone new to this business be motivated to seek any opportunity available to master their skills.

WC:  A very detail-oriented individual with good communication and multi-tasking skills who takes ownership of his projects, and produces code-compliant shop drawings on time, consistent with best practices of their office and installation teams, while managing design and material budgets….. Drawings fully coordinated with building components and fully coordinated with the other MEP trades….. Thorough stocklisting and planning so all materials arrive at the jobsite at the optimum time to allow the fitters to perform at a high-level, with results being minimal / no rework in the field.

3.     In the last class you taught, what background did your students have?

CB:  I have a trainee who has a graphic design background and who has very good computer skills. His progress is moving forward at a very good pace. One of my other trainees came from the carpentry trade, this is his second career. He is very familiar with working in a construction environment and understands how to work with other trades.

WC:  The last class (Standpipe Design with Calculations…..9 students) had a fairly wide range of experience in fire protection.

 

4.     If you could tell someone who was interested in going into design one thing they should learn today, what would it be?

CB:  AutoCAD with an emphasis on BIM. The fire protection industry seems to be late adapting to new technology. We were the last trade to embrace AutoCAD and we seem to be the last with BIM also. 3D design is the future of the construction industry and we need to be focused on hiring people with those skill sets.

WC:  I typically describe Fire Protection Design as a great career for those individuals who are detail-oriented, and like the challenges of problem-solving and time management, while working in a team environment. They must be willing to apply themselves in a significant manner toward learning a very challenging business as there is a significant learning curve.

Wayne Conrad started his fire protection career in 1976 at F.E. Moran.  I attained his NICET Level 4 Certification in 1989.  He now has 41 years of fire protection design experience and enjoys using his experience to benefit his students.

Cordell Beache began his career in London in 1973.  He has since continued to grow his fire protection design experience, and has been designing and training at F.E. Moran Fire Protection National since 2016.  He uses his extensive experience to help trainees grow their fire protection design knowledge base.

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Fires in History: Binghamton Clothing Company

Binghampton Fire

 

The Scene

On July 22, 1913, the 110-125 women working in the Binghamton Clothing Company, a former cigar company in Bingham, NY, were sweating through their clothes.  It was a hot day, and windows were propped open throughout the factory.  The cross-breeze was making the unbearable heat a little more livable. 

Lunch time came and went, and it kept getting hotter in the factory.  Young women were sneaking into the breezy stairwell for a smoke and some reprieve from the heat.  It just kept getting hotter.  Around 1pm, a worker noticed it was much hotter inside than outside.  An hour later, she noticed smoke rising up from the stairwell.

The Fire

At lunch, an employee was smoking in the stairwell, and dropped it down to the second floor landing.  The landing was full of flammable, plush material.  The fuel, along with the ventilation from the windows, and the ignition source (the cigarette) caused a massive fire that spread quickly.

At 2:30pm, Reed Freeman, the owner of the building, raised the alarm and began pouring buckets of water on the fire.  However, most of the women sat.  They didn’t move from their machines.  Why?  The fire drills the women had been doing used a gradual alarm that changed for every stage of the fire drill, but this alarm was continuous.  Because it wasn’t recognizable, it went ignored by many.

Nellie Connor, who was known as the “mother” of the workers, helped guide women out of the building.  She worked for the company for 31 years.  She went back in to help more, but the building collapsed within 20 minutes of the alarm sounding.

Sidney Dimmock, a 15-year foreman at the company, carried two women out of the building and went in for more.  He was also inside the building when it collapsed.

Fire crews in Bingham were at another fire when they got the call for the factory fire.  By the time they arrived, the fire was out of control.  They couldn’t enter the building or attempt rescue.  They attempted to keep the fire away from the other buildings, but the water pressure was too low due to drought.

By 4pm, the property was destroyed and thirty-one women died.

 

The Aftermath

After the fire, witnesses took the stand to determine who was at fault for the tragedy.  The owner said that materials were always picked up and put away at night.  By code, flammable waste needed to be put in fireproof receptacles and removed 2+ times a day.  However, a witness said that flammable materials, cuttings, and rubbish were all over the floor.

The staircase was not fireproof and acted like a chimney, shooting smoke and fire into the air.  At the time of the fire, the State Factory Investigating Commission drafted a bill to make staircases fireproof, but it hadn’t been voted on yet.

This fire in combination with other major fires of the time led to three code changes in Building Exit Code (NFPA 101-T) 1927.

1.     Changes in construction for stairways and fire escapes.

2.     Code for fire drills in various occupancies.

3.     Construction and arrangements for exits in factories.

The reports were adopted by NFPA and published as “Outside Stairs for Fire Exits” in 1916 and “Safeguarding Factory Workers from Fire” in 1918.

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3 Things to Do This Month to Improve Your Fire Protection System

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Not too long ago, we had to take care of a completely preventable emergency.  What could have been the cost of a $5 door sweep cost $50,000.

The building was designed to have the fire pump room next to the drive through that went to resident parking.  The fire sprinkler contractor basically said, bad idea.  However, the builder moved forward with his plan.  He placed a door in the fire pump room that went to this outdoor area.  The door had a 1 inch gap. 

Can you see where I’m going with this?

One day, there was an unexpected cold spell.  The heat wasn’t on.  The fire pump room was set off, away from the rest of the building.  No one was aware of a problem until water started leaking through the door.

The cold air was coming in through the 1 inch gap in the door.  Everything froze.  All of the pipe in the fire pump room.  The 6 inch pipe was frozen solid.  The control valve could not be closed until the pipe thawed, so the water just kept flowing.

In the end, the backflow, fire pump, dry valve, and everything else needed to be replaced.

Not wanting to spend $5 or listen to the fire protection contractor led to a $50,000 bill.

 

What are 3 things you can do this month to protect your fire protection system?

1)     Inspect your gauges, control valves, dry pipe valves, and exterior pre-action valves. 

Valves must be accessible, open and close properly, be free of leaks and damage, and labeled.  Gauges need to be inspected to ensure they’re in good condition and that water pressure is maintained.

2)     Test electric motor-driven fire pumps.

Complete a 10 minute run & flow test.

3)     Inspect your pump systems

Inspect fire pumps to ensure they are working properly.

 

Check out a more detailed description of inspection needs at Hanover Insurance.

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From Firefighter to VP, Meet Gavin Hansen

F.E. Moran Fire Protection

We’re continuing our series The Faces of F.E. Moran.  This week, you’re meeting Gavin Hansen, the Vice President of F.E. Moran Fire Protection.

Q:  How did you hear about F.E. Moran Fire Protection and end up working here?

A: Through a mutual friend, they thought I’d be a great fit with my background as a Firefighter.

Q:  You were a firefighter not too long ago.  Can you tell our readers about your experience with that?  Any good stories?

 

A: I was a Firefighter for 10 years, started at the age of 17. I loved it, it’s a brotherhood. Through the years I grew a deeper passion for the fire protection industry. I carry a great deal of pride and ownership from that experience. Which has carried over to my career at FE Moran. I have a bunch of stories, the first one that comes to mind was my first fire.  It was the dead of winter, we had a basement fire that spread through the house. Onsite the entire house was engulfed, after we were able to get the fire under control, we entered into the basement (which was safe to enter), to attack the seed of the fire. With the nozzle in hand standing in four feet of water, we advanced and were able to put a knock in it. Your adrenaline is going so fast you don’t even think twice about entering.  Weather becomes a non-factor.  You go in and do your best to save life and property.

Q:  What is your favorite part of your job?

A: Working with the team, solving problems. The industry that we work in is extremely fast pace and I love it.

Q:  What is your leadership philosophy?

A: Lead by example, set the tone. Opportunities present themselves every day, take ownership and pursue them!

Q:  What is something you can tell our readers about yourself that might surprise them?

A: As of this month, I’ll be turning 30 years old. In ten years I’ve held multiple positions, each of them being an opportunity.

We hope you enjoyed getting to know Gavin.  See our video below to get to know him a little better.

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VIP Program Case Study

shopping mall maintenance contract

A struggling American economy forced businesses into a less than desired approach to fire protection inspections, potentially putting the safety of themselves and the public at risk. F.E. Moran, Inc. Fire Protection liberated these malls and shopping centers from their reluctant inaction toward fire protection solution maintenance with the Very Important Partners (VIP) program.

The Great Recession

According to the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research, the Great Recession began in December, 2007. Since then, many malls found it infeasible to maintain their fire sprinkler inspection schedule. One mall, located in Chicago Ridge, IL was among the malls striving to continue their proper fire sprinkler inspection schedule. Since 1981, this mall has been providing a home for over 120 retailers in the Midwest. While malls and shopping centers throughout Illinois were faced with diminishing fire protection budgets, this retailer hub chose to partner with F.E. Moran Fire Protection for an innovative solution.

Mall Fire Protection Budgets Slashed

Beginning in 2008, shoppers were disappearing. The once bustling malls of America were now sparse. Malls and shopping centers were cash strapped. This caused a snowball effect; proper fire protection inspection schedules were no longer feasible. Proper quarterly inspections became once every six months or even once every year. Issues found during the rare inspections were improperly remedied instead of rehabilitated by a professional.

Ignoring or patching a fire sprinkler issue can lead to failure. In June, 2012, a Napa Valley shopping center went up in flames, destroying six businesses. The fire began in a restaurant without working fire sprinklers. It was noted that no businesses within the shopping center had working fire protection equipment at the time of the fire. If this building had fire suppression equipment and fire walls to prevent the fire from spreading business to business, this tragedy would not have happened.

Another issue malls and shopping centers were facing was a bombardment of contractors. When it came time for a mall or shopping center to build out or replace their fire protection system, they were confronted by 5-10 sprinkler contractors who were unfamiliar with the facility. In the event of a build out, the still cash-poor malls would choose the lowest bid general contractor. In turn, the general contractor would choose the lowest bid sprinkler contractor, whether they were qualified or not.

 

F.E. Moran Fire Protection's VIP Facilities

In 2009, F.E. Moran Fire Protection found the solution: The Very Important Partners (VIP) program. The VIP program offers free inspections; ensuring malls and shopping centers are code compliant. In exchange for free inspections, malls and shopping centers utilize F.E. Moran Fire Protection as their required fire sprinkler contractor.

One of the first malls to take advantage of this innovative solution was a Chicago Ridge, IL mall. They experienced enormous benefits from the VIP program. Not only were they guaranteed timely sprinkler and fire pump inspections, they no longer had to concern themselves with numerous sprinkler contractors. Without knowledge of the fire sprinkler contractors' expertise or reputation, facilities only had price to determine their course of action. With the VIP program, general contractors no longer need to wade through quotes, and malls and shopping centers have the peace of mind knowing that their sprinkler contractor has in-depth knowledge of their facility and are invested in ensuring superior fire protection systems.

Satisfied Facilities and General Contractors

The VIP Program has now been in effect for three years and has a 100% rate of contract renewal from malls and shopping centers. Facilities have seen the benefits of having a relationship with F.E. Moran Fire Protection; they know that they have one, trustworthy fire sprinkler company to work with. Through the inspection process, F.E. Moran Fire Protection becomes an expert on the individual site's standards, and relationships are built with the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). Facilities save an average of $10,000 a year on inspections. Additionally, general contractors appreciate that they no longer need to analyze 5-10 bids for fire sprinkler contractors; now they have one fire protection contractor who is invested in the facility. F.E. Moran Fire Protection's personal investment in their VIP program facilities provides assurance to the general contractor that they will have a seamless working experience.

F.E. Moran Fire Protection has been providing fire protection services to the retail, residential, commercial, manufacturing, storage occupancy, education, and healthcare facility markets since 1970. With over forty years of experience, F.E. Moran Fire Protection has the expertise to provide paramount fire protection and customer service.

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Bethany Terrace Case Study

assisted living fire protection

Written By:  Sarah Block, Director of Marketing & Education

When an existing long-term care facility needed to complete their partial fire sprinkler system in an occupied facility, F.E. Moran Fire Protection and Michuda Construction worked together to solve the issues that naturally arise when working in existing, occupied spaces.

Holistic Care for Patients with Special Needs

As a holistic, long term care facility in Morton Grove, IL, Bethany Terrace has a unique population of occupants that may complicate construction projects within the facility. Bethany Terrace caters to Alzheimer Disease and Dementia patients as well as residents who appreciate the peace of mind of having medical, rehabilitation, and therapy options close at hand. This facility is ideal for those who need assistance in day to day life. However, because of the needs of the residents, construction must be coordinated carefully in order to have little to no impact on the occupants.

When Bethany Terrace decided to expand their fire protection system, they hired Michuda Construction to head the project. In turn, Michuda Construction hired F.E. Moran Fire Protection to design, install, and manage the fire protection project. With a reputation for quality work and respect for assisted living facility residents, F.E. Moran Fire Protection exceeded their expectations.

Complications Spurred from Existing Site

 

With a facility that houses patients that may either be immobile or have cognitive deficiencies, coordinating a fire protection project can be complicated. Because Bethany Terrance is an existing, running site, the installation needed to work with both the already existing fire sprinkler infrastructure and the resident's schedule and occupancies.

The first challenge began with the design of the fire protection system. Bethany Terrace was already partially protected with fire sprinklers, so F.E. Moran Fire Protection needed to work with the existing sprinkler system in order to make the property a 100% sprinklered facility. In order to merge the old and the new system, the original system, risers, and fire department connection needed to be re-worked to accommodate the new system. While the design was being created, it was discovered that the area above the ceiling had limited space with the I-beam construction.

Another challenge began in the coordination of the installation phase. The majority of the space that needed to be sprinklered was occupied by residents. In order to limit the impact on residents, F.E. Moran Fire Protection needed to strategically schedule installation and store equipment.

Working Together to Solve Coordination and Design Issues

With the help of Michuda Construction and Bethany Terrace, F.E. Moran Fire Protection re-routed the piping and minimized, and, in many cases, eliminated, the need to install soffits to conceal the piping. F.E. Moran Fire Protection was hired as a design-build contractor, so they were able to complete hydraulic calculations to minimize the pipe sizes in order to fit the small above ceiling space.

In order to accommodate the occupied areas during construction, F.E. Moran Fire Protection modified the phasing schedule to work with the patients' schedules. They worked closely with Bethany Terrace to create a schedule that would not impact the residents' daily activities and limited the duration of the project. With the combined efforts of F.E. Moran Fire Protection's office, design, and field staff, Michuda Construction's Superintendent, and Bethany Terrace personnel, the fire sprinkler installation schedule was able to be adjusted without extending the project.

Through the challenges of installing in an existing site with limited above ceiling space and working in an occupied facility, F.E. Moran Fire Protection, Michuda Construction, and Bethany Terrace were able to work together to install a fire sprinkler system on time and without impacting the special occupants residing within Bethany Terrace. Project Manager Pat Horan stated, "I thought the working relationship was very good and the owner was happy with our work." Ryan Johnson of Michuda Construction added, "The entire team worked together to provide a positive product in a timely manner."

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Highland Park Parking Garage Case Study

parking garage fire protection

When a Highland Park parking garage closed due to fire protection needs and neighborhood shop sales declined, F.E. Moran Fire Protection had ten days to complete the massive project to allow the parking garage to re-open and help the struggling shopping district regain its revenue.

 

Parking Garage Closure Snowballs to Falling Sales

 

A parking garage in Highland Park, IL, 23 miles outside of Chicago, was the only parking lot for several businesses in the main shopping district in town. With the parking garage out of commission, local businesses saw a 50% drop in business. With business struggling and the city losing revenue, time was of the essence.

Tom Dennis received a call from the director of facilities at 9am on a Thursday, and by 2pm, he was at the parking garage performing a job walk. Because of the financial strain the closed parking garage was causing, the project needed to get started immediately and the bid was due the next day by 4pm. F.E. Moran Fire Protection was awarded the job at 3pm on Saturday and by Sunday at 7am, demolition began.

The project involved removing and re-installing four complete dry sprinkler systems in the large 2-story parking garage. This involved approximately 1,500 sprinklers and all associated piping. In order to get the downtown district's business quickly back in line, the timeline was extremely tight. The entire project needed to be completed within ten days. 

 

Project Completion Pipe Dream

 

In order to meet the ten day deadline, the F.E. Moran Fire Protection crew had to work around the clock, and procure a large amount of materials quickly. Mr. Dennis and his team scoured the Midwest and all available suppliers, searching for materials. Galvanized pipes and fittings were lacking in the Midwest, making the ten day deadline seem like a pipe dream.

 

 


Problem Resolved with Teamwork

 

By utilizing all suppliers to support this project, F.E. Moran Fire Protection was able to complete the project within the ten day timeline. After exhausting all Midwest resources, the galvanized pipes and fittings were finally acquired. All factions of the company - starting with the service department and supported by the in-house fabrication shop, design team, and field management - pulled together to make this project a success. 

At the end of this project, the city of Highland Park got their parking garage back, enabling the local businesses to regain their sales. The project finalized within the ten day timeline and under budget.

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Boys and Girls Club Case Study

Boys & Girls Club fire protection

Written By:  Sarah Block, Director of Marketing & Education

The John Will Anderson Boys and Girls Club chose to fulfill a need for the youth of Gary, IN by providing a program of mentorship to guide children into becoming productive, well-rounded adults. The Boys and Girls Club overcame budget constraints and designing hurtles with the help of charitable contractors and opened their doors at the start of 2014.

Northwest Indiana's Boys and Girls Club

In Northwest Indiana, there is a place where kids can go to keep their noses clean and develop honest character. That place is the John Will Anderson Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Indiana. With programs centered on leadership, education, career, health and life skills, arts, and athletic development, the Boys and Girls Club provides a healthy environment for local kids. The Boys and Girls Club recognized a need for their program in Gary, IN and bought the building of a former high school to see that dream fulfilled. With the help of contractors who worked to stay within their tight budget, the club was able to open their doors at the start of 2014.

A Tightened Budget Brings out the Best in Contractors

The Boys and Girls Club had a challenging budget of $6 million to start, provided by the Community Block Grant Fund, a City of Gary grant. However, it was trimmed to $5.3 million after the initial planning stage had been completed, causing a huge challenge. They needed to scale back the scope and work with contractors to stay within budget.

Another challenge, from F.E. Moran Fire Protection's point of view, was that no drawings existed of the school that was being converted. They had no way of knowing where existing mechanical systems were located in the ceiling. The drawings and design had to be completed by field surveys as the GC was removing the ceiling.

Additionally, to keep with code, fire sprinklers needed to pass through unheated areas of the building. If they didn't resolve the heat issue, they would risk severely damaging the building if a fire sprinkler froze and burst.

Creative Solutions for Budget Shortfalls

To accommodate the Boys and Girls Club's new budget, F.E. Moran Fire Protection provided Value Engineering suggestions to cut costs in materials and labor. Additionally, even though there was a nine month gap between bid and project start, all contractors honored their original quote, adhering to their new budget.

In order to resolve the issue with unheated spaces that needed wet-pipe fire sprinklers, F.E. Moran Fire Protection brought in an insulation contractor to wrap the piping and keep it above 40 degrees.

"The project was a great success story due to the collaborative efforts by all contractors, community members, staff, and the visionaries that made this project a reality," said Dion Katsouros, project manager at The Skillman Corporation.

With the help of contractors who wanted to give back to the community, the Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Indiana were able to build their club house and provide a much needed service for area youth. In January, they opened their door to the children of Indiana, providing a future generation the needed skills to succeed.

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Fiber Water Tank Case Study

Contributor:  Robert Barcik,  Senior Project Manager at F.E. Moran Fire Protection
Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director at The Moran Group

When a once defunct property was reinvigorated, F.E. Moran Fire Protection set out to conquer the challenge of designing and installing fire protection in a partially finished building with a new fire protection plan. Not any fire protection would do. An innovative solution was needed to meet the new requirements.

A Dream Realized

In 2004, the Waterview Tower broke ground. It was intended to be a mixed-use, 90-story tower that would house Shangri-La Hotel and luxury condos. However, the high-rise dream went into foreclosure in 2008 after reaching only 28 floors.

In July, 2011, the dream was reinvigorated when Related Midwest acquired the property and began building a 60-story luxury rental property with 504 units. The ground level was built with restaurants and retail space and the apartments had access to residential amenities on the 28th and 29th floors including an indoor pool, sun deck, fitness center, theater, game room, and party rooms. When it was time to install the fire protection, they called F.E. Moran Fire Protection. They not only installed the fire protection, but also a pioneering fiber water storage tank on the 26th floor.

Unique Problem, Innovative Answer

Because the property was already built through the 28th floor, adapting the new fire protection plan to the existing building proved difficult. The new fire protection plan required a water storage tank to be installed on the 26th floor. Since the building was already built through the 28th floor, the 26th floor was not adapted for this new need. F.E. Moran Fire Protection had to think outside the traditional steel tank method. They chose to utilize Fiber Technology Corporation's FTC FRP Panel Type Water Tank.

Another issue that arose was that this was F.E. Moran Fire Protection's first time using the fiber water tank. The fitters and designers needed to determine how to adapt the tank with the fire protection they were using and learn how to make it fit the specifications that fit the traditional water tank.


State-of-the-Art Solution

The fiber water tank is manufactured from SMC using hot pressed metal matched mold to make the material strong enough to have a long life with minimal maintenance. The tank design is very similar to fiberglass tanks, but they are stronger with a smooth inner surface that prevents algae and bacterial growth. Algae and bacteria growth can corrode fire sprinklers and cause them to fail in a fire event.

The major benefit of using the fiber water tank was that the tank used a modular system, enabling a tank of any size and shape to be constructed. F.E. Moran Fire Protection was able to bring the tank to the 26th floor piece by piece and assemble it in place.

It turned out that adapting the fiber water tank was easier than initially thought. The tank was light weight and was easily assembled by the fire sprinkler fitters, who had no previous experience with this type of tank.

 


F.E. Moran Fire Protection completed the commissioning of the fire protection system on March 27, 2014 with no issue. They were pleased with the ease of installation of the fiber water tank. Robert Barcik of F.E. Moran Fire Protection said, "Waterview Tower presented some exciting challenges that forced us to rethink our usual protocol. Getting the opportunity to use the new fiber water tank on this project gave us a great new option for future projects where traditional water tanks just won't cut it."

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Bedford Park Warehouse Fire Case Study

warehouse fire protection

Contributor:  Gavin Hansen,  Vice President of F.E. Moran Fire Protection, Northern Illinois
Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director at The Moran Group

In the small town of Bedford Park, Illinois, 580 people live amongst sprawling industrial properties. While the residents of Bedford Park were sleeping, a welder was doing maintenance on a semi-trailer at a local large commercial warehouse in the early morning hours. What happened next, no one would have expected.

Industrial Community Expands

In 2013, a rambling commercial warehouse was just going up in Bedford Park. F.E. Moran Fire Protection National (FPS) was brought on board to design and install the fire protection system. FPS then brought in F.E. Moran Fire Protection Northern Illinois (FPN) to man the project.

Warehouses should always be protected with fire sprinklers. In the five year period between 2007- 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to 6,350 warehouse fires that caused $188 million dollars in direct property damage per year. Each year also saw an average of 23 civilian injuries and 4 civilian deaths.

The Bedford Park warehouse had a properly designed and installed fire protection system installed to reduce their risk if a fire were to occur. The project went seamlessly and was turned over to the property owner in the summer of 2014.

 

Semi-trailer Engulfed in Flames

Six months later, on January 24, 2015, maintenance was being done on a semi-trailer in the early morning hours. A welder was being used on the semi-trailer and a small fire ignited. The fire quickly grew and engulfed the semi-trailer.

Fire Sprinkler "Works like a Champion"

The fire activated 12 fire sprinkler heads and extinguished the fire before fire crews even arrived. The Bedford Park Fire Department said, "It worked like a champion."

FPN arrived quickly to the scene and replaced 36 sprinkler heads, bringing the fire sprinklers back online within 8 hours. One thing that properties need to keep in mind is flair ups often happen after fires, and if the fire sprinklers are offline more than necessary after activating from the original fire, it could result in catastrophe. Bringing fire sprinklers back online quickly is of the essence. Gavin Hansen, Service and Inspection Manager, said, "The fire department and owner were extremely impressed with the quick extinguishment of the fire. They were extremely happy with the operation and the quick services of F.E. Moran to get the system back in service the same day."

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Des Plaines Nursing Home Case Study

Des Plaines Nursing Home

Written By:  Sarah Block, Director of Marketing & Education

When a fire sparked at a Des Plaines nursing home, the recently installed fire sprinklers were put to the test.
 

Fire Sprinklers Put to the Test

On February 19, 2015 at 8:15am, the fire department received a sprinkler activation alert at a Des Plaines Nursing Home. A mattress was on fire (cause has not been released), and the fire was contained to the point of origin thanks to fire sprinklers installed by F.E. Moran Fire Protection.

After a string of deadly fires in nursing homes, fire sprinklers became mandated and required to be installed by December 31, 2013. Because of this, there was an influx of fire sprinkler retrofit projects. With a retrofit at a nursing home comes certain obstacles, and this project was no exception.

Coordination is Key

When retrofitting a nursing home, the major hurdle is synchronizing with the patients. Every resident still needs a room, so careful coordination is key. Residents needed to have a room to stay and limited disruption to their daily schedules. After all, the patients are the center of the business, and their comfort and health are of the utmost importance.

Putting Patients First

To coordinate with patients' schedules, F.E. Moran Fire Protection worked with staff to create a timetable that minimized inconvenience to staff and patients. Their careful coordination allowed them to achieve production goals, keeping cost under control.

 


Fire Sprinklers Put to the Test

In the end, F.E. Moran Fire Protection finished the project successfully. Ken Klimasz said, "Overall the project was a success. [It] definitely supported the need for constant communication and flexibility by both parties for a successful outcome."

The fire sprinklers proved their worth when a fire ignited in a patient's room. The single fire sprinkler head activated, and controlled the blaze until fire fighters could extinguish it. Arnold Witzke, Fire Marshal for North Maine Fire Protection District said, "From the day of the incident, I felt it necessary to let you know the system your company installed needs to be credited with a save....Our department feels that there was a distinct possibility we could have had loss of life or more serious injuries than was experienced....on behalf of Fire Chief Richard Dobrowski and the entire North Maine Fire Protection District, job well done, F.E. Moran."

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Transportation Hub Fire Protection Case Study

fire protection at a transportation hub

Contributor:  Bret Logemann, VP of Warehouse and Distribution Centers at F.E. Moran Fire Protection National
Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director at The Moran Group

When a transportation company decided to expand their trucking service to Winter Haven, no one knew that it would spawn an industrial movement in the town. While developing the land from nothing to an industrial district, odd obstacles popped up left and right. Would the obstacles win?

When a transportation company decided to expand their competitive advantage long haul trucking service to Winter Haven, FL, they had no idea that it would transform the local economy to the extent that it did. However, before that happened, there were a number of surprising obstacles that they had to overcome with the help of F.E. Moran Fire Protection.

The transportation company runs 21,000 miles across eastern United States, transporting manufactured goods with the help of their 40 terminals. Their most recent terminal, in Winter Haven, FL, spawned an industrial development movement, bringing massive economic gains to the local area.

When they decided to build their hub in Winter Haven, they brought on F.E. Moran Fire Protection (FPS) to protect their facility from fire. Together, with their GC, they were able to overcome unexpected hurdles, resulting in a successful project.

 

Unusual Obstacles Bring Exciting Challenges

The hub was set to be built in Winter Haven, FL; however, a problem lay ahead: the land was completely undeveloped. There was no municipal water supply. FPS had to wait until the municipal water supply was added to the area. Once it was completed, it was discovered that a standard fire pump wouldn't be adequate to supply the fire sprinklers.

Another unexpected delay was right around the corner. The excavation was set to begin for the water main installation. Quickly into the excavation, the excavation contractor found a protected tortoise burrow in the excavation path. Per Florida law, the burrow could not be disturbed until it had been observed for 28 days to ensure that the burrow was abandoned.

Unique Problems Require Unique Solutions

To solve the issue of an inadequate water supply, F.E. Moran Fire Protection added a Variable Speed Diesel Fire Pump. Prior to adding this improved pump, the water supply wouldn't have enough pressure to adequately supply the fire sprinklers. The new Variable Speed Diesel Fire Pump is able to maintain a 175 psi pressure, sufficiently supplying the fire protection system.

Finding a tortoise burrow that was on Florida's protected animal list could have been a major blow to the timeline. Work had to stop for 28 days, according to Florida law. Plus, if the tortoise returned, more time would be lost relocating the burrow. Luckily, the tortoise did not return, and after following the 28 day protocol, FPS and Clayco were able to resume work on the project.

 

An Economic Boost to Florida

In the end, by working closely with Florida's sprinkler fitters local 821, increasing manpower, and FPS' outstanding employees, the project was completed within six weeks and under budget. Bret Logemann said, "I believe this [successful project] is due to F.E. Moran Fire Protection's superior office, design, project management, scheduling, purchasing, and field employees." By building a solid relationship with the local union and project GC, this project went from a series of obstacles to a complete success. Now, thanks to the hub, the local economy is set to thrive. The hub was the first industrial property to break ground in what will now be an 8 million square foot industrial space, spawning a massive distribution mecca for Fortune 500 companies. The project is estimated to cost a total of $400 million and take 5-6 years to complete, bringing both construction and industrial jobs to the local economy. That is something FPS is proud to be a part of.

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Storing Flammable Liquids: How to Make the Complexities of NFPA 30 Simple

storing flammable liquids NFPA

On October 29, 2007, a warehouse in Des Moines, Iowa experienced a massive fire and series of explosions stemming from a 300-gallon portable tank of the flammable liquid, ethyl acetate. An operator chose to place a weight on the fill nozzle, forcing it to remain in the open position. The operator placed a hose in the open nozzle and walked away to complete other work. The nozzle and hose fell off during the fill process and the ethyl acetate began discharging on the floor. The wood-framed warehouse was a perfect catalyst for the spread of the fire. A fire started, and as it spread, it ignited a large volume of flammable liquids being stored throughout the facility. The warehouse was destroyed, production was hindered, and two people were injured.

 

This facility did not have automatic fire sprinklers in the area where the flammable liquids were beingtransferred or stored. Due to the lack of fire suppression in the immediate vicinity, the fire grew too large to be suppressed once the fire spread to sprinklered areas of the warehouse. According to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, "If a fire suppression system had been installed in the packaging area and the area had been separated from the warehouse by fire-rated walls and doors, this fire likely would have been extinguished or contained before engulfing the entire warehouse." This facility was in direct violation of code NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids, Chapter 16, Automatic Fire Protection for Inside Liquid Storage Areas. They are not the only ones. Everyday facilities are cited for violating this code. Why are NFPA 30 violations so prevalent?

Insurance Underwriters are Focusing on NFPA 30

Currently, insurance underwriters are paying close attention to NFPA 30. Older industrial buildings that were previously used for manufacturing are now being repurposed for flammable liquid storage. These facilities were not designed to properly store flammable liquids and most do not have fire-rated walls and doors to ward off fire from the rest of the facility.

Even some facilities that are experienced in storing flammable liquids are earning violations. Flammable liquids and other hazardous materials have changed over time. Fire protection solutions that may have been adequate before are no longer capable of suppressing fires derived from newer more complex flammable liquids.

NFPA 30 is Complex

To give this code perspective, we will compare it to NFPA 13, The Standard for Installation of Sprinkler Systems. NFPA 13 is a code used for every type of Fire Sprinkler System solution.
In this code, there are 26 chapters. In NFPA 30, which has a significantly smaller population of users, there are 29 chapters, 14 annexes, 1 chart, and 1 form.

To determine each fire protection need, according to NFPA 30, facilities must answer a series of questions before coming to a conclusion. For example, to find out how high a facility can store flammable liquids in vertical stacks, facilities must research and answer the following questions:
1. Is it a liquid (fluidity, viscosity, water-miscible)?
2. What type of liquid is it (flammable, combustible, flash points, boiling points, etc)?
3. What is the liquid classification (IA, IB, II, III, IIIA, IIIB)?
4. What type of occupancy is the liquid stored in (healthcare facility, industrial, process, liquid storage warehouse etc)?
5. What type of container is the liquid stored in (drums, portable tanks, relieving, non-relieving, immediate bulk containers, etc)?
6. Is there an automatic sprinkler system protecting the space (design flow rate, density, foam/water, etc)?
7. What is the container arrangement (palletized, rack, maximum allowable quantity, etc)?

For each different liquid storage fire protection solution - sprinklers, detection, and a wide-array of physical storage requirements - several questions must be researched and answered. This can be extremely burdensome for facility staff with a variety of responsibilities.

Solution

With a combination of fire protection professionals and NFPA 30 provided charts and forms, it is possible to apply this extremely complicated code. If a facility chooses to take on this task independently, it is recommended to utilize figures 16.4.1(a), 16.4.1(b), and 16.4.1(c) (see below) from NFPA 30 to determine the correct section of chapter 16 to focus on. 
 

 

However, even with the use of charts, many sections of the code have numerous exceptions and refer to the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) as the point of reference.

It is advised that facilities do not attempt to apply the complicated NFPA 30 code on their own. Hire a fire protection solution provider that has a relationship with the AHJ and underwriters who can provide their expertise to ensure code compliancy. With the help of one simple seven question form (see below) and a fire protection solution provider, facilities can feel certain their buildings are code compliant.

 

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Protecting Shopping Malls Against Fire: Could your mall have frozen pipes?

frozen fire sprinklers

Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director at The Moran Group

Shopping malls go hand-in-hand with adaptation. The evolution of the mall began with Trajan's Market, built in Rome around 100-110 AD. The concept of the mall evolved from an open air market to the modern day, enclosed mall, first built in Edina, Minnesota in 1956. Shopping malls continue to change to adopt new retail ventures. It is this continuous change that provides a backdrop to hidden areas that may unknowingly be prone to freezing fire protection sprinkler pipes.

What are common fire hazards in malls?

Malls have a greater than average chance of fire due to the transient population. Each year, 1,710 fire events take place in the retail industry and 119 are caused by arson, according to the NFPA. Other issues that stem from the transient population, including short-term employees, are smoking within the building and unsafe storage of combustible and flammable materials.

Additional fire hazards are electrical malfunctions and the open flames, sparks, and hot surfaces, found in most restaurants. Large numbers of people, expensive property, and large stocks of merchandise rely on a full fire protection solution to keep them safe. Because of the menagerie of retail outlets and a diverse population, fire protection must also be kept at its peak performance.

Why does fire sprinkler piping freeze?

There are several causes for the freezing of fire sprinkler pipes throughout the life of the building. During the construction phase, wet-pipe sprinklers may be installed in the interior of the mall; however, heat is not yet circulating throughout the building. If the temperature drops to 40 degrees or below, wet-pipe sprinkler piping runs the risk of freezing.

In unheated areas, such as exterior areas, attics, or storage rooms, dry-pipe, pre-action, dry-pendent, or dry-sidewall sprinklers are typically installed by an expert fire protection service provider. However, if the sprinklers activate and are not adequately drained, the sitting water has the opportunity to freeze within the pipe.

 

What can happen if a pipe freezes?

If temperatures reach below 40 degrees, any water within a fire sprinkler pipe runs the risk of freezing according to NFPA 13, 13D, and 13R. The most common areas that freeze in fire sprinkler piping are short-runs of sprinkler piping, such as exterior walls and attic spaces. These pipes are often forgotten by property personnel when a sprinkler head activates and pipes need to be drained.

When water freezes, it increases in size by 10%. This is significant enough to increase the pressure to the point of bursting a pipe, fitting, or sprinkler and can cause the release of up to 30 gallons of water per minute. Each time a pipe bursts, it will typically cost a property owner $30,000+ per event.

If a fire event happens when the fire sprinkler piping has an ice block, it will inhibit water flow and the sprinkler head may not activate.

Leaks from frozen pipes typically appear when the pipes begin to thaw, so properties are more likely to experience a burst pipe in the early spring or on warm winter days. With the erratic winter weather in the Midwest, property owners need to be particularly pro-active about their fire protection inspection, testing, and maintenance, especially after a sprinkler activates.

How do we prevent fire sprinkler pipes from freezing?

The initial opportunity to prevent a pipe from bursting due to freezing water is to work with a fire protection service provider that is well aware of the risks of freezing weather on fire sprinkler piping. They will design a system that will mitigate the risks of burst pipes. Installing dry-pipe, pre-action, dry-pendant, or dry-sidewall sprinklers will ensure water is not in the pipes unless a fire sprinkler activates, reducing the likelihood of freezing pipes. If a sprinkler activates, call your fire protection contractor immediately to properly drain pipes of excess water.

Steps can be taken to prevent freezing pipes: 


1. Have employees stay alert and be aware of cold weather conditions. 
2. Check fire protection frequently during the winter months.
3. According to Bollinger Insurance, do not attempt do-it-yourself repairs on fire protection systems. Obtain the services of a trained professional.
4. During annual fire protection inspections, ask your contractor to test all valves.
5. Have personnel trained on how to shut down valves in the event of a burst pipe.

If an ice blockage is discovered, do not use an open flame or temporary heating equipment in an attempt to melt the ice. This will present an unnecessary fire risk.

Fire protection systems are essential to the safety of customers, employees, property, and merchandise in malls. 98% of sprinkler failure is due to human error. If a frozen pipe is discovered, contact your fire protection contractor to provide emergency maintenance and reduce the chances of a burst pipe causing $30,000 in damages or a fire sprinkler malfunction when you need it most.

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The Risks of Ignoring Inspection Reports

fire protection inspection

Contributor:  Chiara Lima,  Business Development Manager at F.E. Moran Fire Protection
Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director at The Moran Group

"The phrase we tend to use is that we are deafened by silence - the silence in our house because we had a really busy house with three two year olds," said Martin Weekes, the father of triplets who perished in the Qatar mall fire that took the lives of nineteen people, including thirteen toddlers. The Qatar mall is being investigated over complaints that fire sprinklers and alarms were not working at the time of the fire. Any mall, shopping center, or retail outlet that does not fix discrepancies found in an inspection or fails to inspect according to the NFPA schedule could cause the same devastation.

Fire Risks in the Retail Market

Retail centers, shops, and malls have unique fire protection issues. The property is packed with merchandise and flammable display materials, making conflagration a definite possibility. On top of the flammable materials, synthetic partition walls and high shelving impedes firefighting efforts and eases the spread of fire. However, working fire sprinklers installed in a retail center will confine fires to the point of origin 94% of the time, greatly reducing damage.

There are 105,000 shopping centers in the United States with an average of 105 stores per mall. If a fire devastated the mall, the local economy could crumble with people out of work and businesses forced out of town. In addition to the possibility of economic strife, an unprotected shopping center is a risk to employees and shoppers. 97 million people frequent malls monthly; protect them by ensuring fire protection systems are in working condition.

The Importance of Regular Inspections

Fire protection systems require active ownership. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) collected data that showed that 4-8% of fires were caused by hazards that would have been found and corrected during an inspection. NFPA 25, the code for water-based sprinkler systems, necessitates weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly inspections. A facility's fire protection inspection schedule may vary depending on the type of fire protection equipment in the building, their insurance company's requirements, and the local fire departments requirements. Many of the weekly and monthly inspections can be performed by trained in-house personnel. However, quarterly and yearly inspections, should be completed by a certified fire protection professional, to ensure that the property's fire sprinkler system is ready to act in the event of a fire

Of the jurisdictions with inspection programs, those that used fire protection and suppression companies for their inspections had lower fire rates than facilities using dedicated fire inspectors exclusively. In fact, a study showed that properties that used inspectors from fire suppression companies had a significant drop in fires due to carelessness or mechanical failure. The study reasoned that the drop in fires could be from the overall attitude of fire safety and fire prevention in the community due to the visibility of fire inspectors.

Fix Violations to Protect People, Property, and Production

It is one thing for a facility to have their fire protection inspected according to NFPA, but it is another to fix violations. With budget cuts, fire departments are running on less manpower, and in turn, don't have the resources to actively enforce inspection violations. With enforcement becoming scarce, facilities sometimes choose to ignore violations in an attempt to save money. However, with a total of $648 million in property damage and 13 civilian deaths from 2004 to 2008 in the retail market from fire (NFPA report); the money saved by ignoring a violation is charged tenfold when a fire occurs.

The most common violation is having storage too close to the sprinkler head, facilities need to have at least an 18 inch clearance below each sprinkler head, if not, it can block the sprinkler spray from the fire. Other common violations are gauges over five years old, painted or corroded sprinkler heads, and buildings not completing their five year obstruction tests and internal check valve investigations.

By getting regular fire protection inspections and addressing all violations, malls, shopping centers, and retail stores can do their part in protecting their shoppers, employees, property, and merchandise.

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Fire Protection for Immobile Patients: Top 3 Questions to Ask

fire protection for immobile patients

Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director at The Moran Group

On Sunday, February 17, 1957, a visitor at Katie Jane Nursing Home in Warrenton, Missouri saw flames shooting out of a utility closet during religious services. One hundred and fifty-five people lived in the two and a half story nursing home at the time of the fire, but only eighty-five people survived the fire. It was determined that the facility had inadequate fire escapes, no sprinkler system, no alarm system, no evacuation plan, and some residents were locked inside their rooms. This fire helped pave the way for fire protection in assisted living facilities.

Beginning August 13, 2013, a fire sprinkler mandate will require all assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and senior living facilities to have fire sprinklers installed to protect residents from fire. People 65 and older are more than twice as likely to perish in a residential fire, and oftentimes, residents in assisted living facilities are immobile, adding a new level of difficulty in the event of a fire. For this reason, it is imperative for nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have a multi-tiered defensive fire protection plan.

 

What are the risks for non-ambulatory patients in a fire emergency?

From 2002 to 2005 2,810 structure fires ignited in nursing homes. This caused 16 civilian deaths, 130 injuries, and $6.6 million in direct property damage per year. Most fires began with a mattress, bedding material, electrical wiring, or cable insulation in the kitchen or bedroom. Bedroom fires were by far the most fatal. However, with automatic fire suppression, the death rate in a nursing home is lowered 94%. Immobile patients do not have a way to escape on their own. This is why fire sprinklers are a necessary part of any assisted living facility fire emergency plan.

How do you coordinate patients during a fire sprinkler installation?

There are several questions a facility will have when installing fire sprinklers in a nursing home with residents. How do you install in occupied rooms? How do contractors coordinate around planned activities?

When working with a qualified fire protection solution provider, the contractor will first have a meeting to learn the special needs of the facility. 
• What are the scheduled events and activities?
• Are there any non-critical areas?
• Is the facility 100% occupied?
• Do you have any stylistic preferences?

Once this is complete, a custom bid can be created to accommodate all the needs of the nursing home. The bid would include a room block schedule and contingencies. Then, a final meeting with all pertinent facility staff should take place. Everyone from the property manager to the nursing staff should include their input to ensure the schedule works. Once the schedule has been finalized, the contractor will use the non-critical area for storage and begin installing. When it is time to install in an occupied room, the resident will already be scheduled in either an activity or scheduled to room with another patient. The installation will take 4-8 hours per room, so it will never effect sleeping arrangements. Because of the meticulously coordinated schedule, patients, both mobile and immobile, are occupied during the installation, so it never affects them adversely.

How do I help non-ambulatory patients during a fire emergency?

The NFPA recommends the "Defend in Place" tactic during nursing home fires. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities should incorporate the combination of fire resistant building construction, sprinkler systems, detection, alarm systems, horizontal movement, compartmentalization (instead of an open concept, each room has fire-resistant walls, a ceiling, and floor), and staff training to reduce the likelihood of having to evacuate immobile patients.

Evacuating patients is a last resort, but if it must be done, first attempt to relocate to another part of the building, also called horizontal relocation. If evacuating from the building is necessary, there are several options to evacuate immobile patients.

• Safety Sheets - safety sheets can be used on mattresses. They have straps that allow staff to strap the patient to the sheet and remove them from the building.
• Evacuation Chair - if the non-ambulatory patient can sit, they can be placed on an evacuation chair and be taken to the ground floor.
• Paraslyde - this utilizes a stretcher made of cardboard. It weighs about 7 pounds and can fit a patient inside a compartment, allowing a technician to slide the patient down the stairs.
• Mattresses - if nothing else is available, patients can be removed using their mattress.

Protecting residents from fire in a nursing home or assisted living facility should be a priority for staff and owners. With a combination of fire sprinklers, smart construction, and trained staff, patients can rest easy knowing they are safe.

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