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Interstate Bank Building Fire;


The First Interstate Bank building, the tallest in the city (and the state of California), is located at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles. It was built in 1973, one year before a high-rise sprinkler ordinance went into effect, and had sprinkler protection only in the basement, garage, and underground pedestrian tunnel. The 62-story tower measures 124 feet by 184 feet (22,816 sq. ft.). It contains approximately 17,500 net square feet of office space per floor, built around a central core. It is occupied primarily by the headquarters of the bank corporation with several floors occupied by other tenants. Approximately 4,000 people work in the building.

The tower contains four main stairways (numbered 5, 5-A, 6, and 6-A in the 12th-floor plan in Appendix A). Stairs 6 and 6-A are enclosed within a common shaft, and stairway 5-A has a pressurized vestibule separating each floor with the stair shaft. Each stairway contains a combination standpipe with a pressure reducing valve at each landing. The building is topped with a helicopter landing pad.

The building has a structural steel frame, protected by a sprayed-on protective coating, with steel floor pans and lightweight concrete The exterior curtain walls are glass and aluminum.

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A complete automatic sprinkler system costing $3.5 million was being installed in the building at the time of the fire. The installation was not required by codes at the time the owners decided to provide increased fire protection for the building. The project was approximately 90 percent complete, with work in progress at the time of the incident. The piping and sprinkler heads had been installed throughout the five fire floors and connected to the standpipe supply. However, a decision had been made to activate the system only on completion of the entire project, when connections would be made to the fire alarm systems, so the valves controlling the sprinklers on completed floors were closed.

Interstatebank Sschematic Floor Plan

The 262 m high, 62-story office tower was the tallest building built in Los Angeles, USA, in 1973. The tower was known as the UCB building until 1981, when United California Bank changed its name to First Interstate Bank. The tower was renamed 707 Wilshire Tower in 1996 and became Aon Center in 2003.

The tower has a structural steel frame with lightweight concrete slab on profiled steel deck. A typical floor measures 37.8 m by 56.1 m, providing about 1,626 m2 of tenant area per floor around a central service core which contains the lift and staircase shafts. The external cladding system was made of glass and aluminium

Fire Protection Systems

Fire Protection system
At time of Construction
(1970s )
At Time of Fire
Fire compartmentation
Applied to the central service core areas only. No fire-rated walls used to separate the tenant places from each other.
Fire stopping between cladding & structure
Fire protection to steelwork
Spayed fire protection materials
Sprinkler system
Not required by building codes but had sprinkler protection in the basement, garage and underground pedestrian tunnel
Automatic sprinkler system was being installed in the building. 90% of the work had been completed but not yet activated
Fire alarm system
Riser system
A single zone combination standpipe system with four risers, one in each stairway for each floor, supplied by two water pumps
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