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High-rise Office Building Fire One Meridian Plaza Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Fire Detection and Alarm Systems

At the time of construction, One Meridian Plaza was equipped with a coded manual fire alarm system with pull stations installed adjacent to each of the three exit stairwells on each floor. Smoke detection was provided in the major supply and return air ducts at the mechanical floor levels.

After the 1981 fire code amendments were! enacted, the hardware on stairway doors was required to allow access from stairs back to floor areas or to be unlocked automatically in the event that the fire alarm was activated. One Meridian Plaza was granted a variance from this provision and generally had unlocked doors every three floors.

Approximately one and a half years before the fire, a public address system was installed throughout the building. This system was operable from the lobby desk and had the capability of addressing floors, stairways, elevator machine rooms, and elevators. Two-way communication was possible with elevators and elevator machine rooms.

As additional devices and systems were installed, they were connected to the fire alarm system to sound through the single-stroke bells originally installed with the manual fire alarm system. Smoke detector and water flow signals were assigned their own codes to allow annunciation not only at the lobby but throughout the building for those members of the building staff who knew the codes.

Standpipes

The occupant use standpipe system, which was connected to the domestic water supply, provided two outlets per floor with 100 feet of 1 l/2-inch hose and a nozzle. The hose cabinets were located in corridors on each floor.

A dry standpipe system was originally installed with 6 inch risers in the west and center stair towers and outlets for 2 l/2 fire department hose lines at each floor level. This system was converted to a wet riser system in 1988, to supply automatic sprinklers on some of the upper floors. An 8 inch water supply was provided to deliver water to two 750 gpm electric fire pumps, one in the basement and one on the 12th floor.


View Larger Map

The basement pump supplied the lower standpipe zone (floors B-12) while the 12th floor pump served the upper zone (floors 13-38).

There was no standpipe in the east stair tower.

A November 1988 Board of Building Standards decision permitted both zones to be served by a common fire department connection, as part of a plan that would provide for the installation of automatic sprinklers on all floors by November 1993.2

Due to the height of the zones and the installation of fire pumps, pressures exceeded the 100 psi limit permitted by NFPA 14, Installation of Standpipe and Hose Sytems at the standpipe hose outlets on several lower floors in each zone. Pressure restricting devices, which limit the discharge through standpipe outlets by restricting the orifice, were installed on the mezzanine and second floor levels and on floors 26 through 30. Pressure reducing valves, which regulate both static pressure and discharge pressure under variable flow conditions, were installed on floors 13 through 25.

Both types of devices prevent dangerous discharge pressures from hose outlets at the lower floors of each standpipe zone. The Philadelphia Fire Department investigators report that the plans submitted at the time the standpipes were converted did not indicate that PRVs were to be installed.

Automatic Sprinklers

Only the service floors located below grade were protected by automatic sprinklers at the time of construction. Conversion of the dry standpipe to a wet system with fire pumps facilitated the installation of automatic sprinklers throughout the building. At the request of selected tenants, sprinklers were installed on several floors during renovations, including all of the 30th, 31st, 34th, and 35th floors, and parts of floors 11 and 15. Limited service sprinklers, connected to the domestic water supply system, were installed in part of the 37th floor. The building owners had plans to install sprinklers on additional floors as they were renovated.

At the time of construction, One Meridian Plaza was equipped with a coded manual fire alarm system with pull stations installed adjacent to each of the three exit stairwells on each floor. Smoke detection was provided in the major supply and return air ducts at the mechanical floor levels.

After the 1981 fire code amendments were! enacted, the hardware on stairway doors was required to allow access from stairs back to floor areas or to be unlocked automatically in the event that the fire alarm was activated. One Meridian Plaza was granted a variance from this provision and generally had unlocked doors every three floors.

Approximately one and a half years before the fire, a public address system was installed throughout the building. This system was operable from the lobby desk and had the capability of addressing floors, stairways, elevator machine rooms, and elevators. Two-way communication was possible with elevators and elevator machine rooms.

As additional devices and systems were installed, they were connected to the fire alarm system to sound through the single-stroke bells originally installed with the manual fire alarm system. Smoke detector and water flow signals were assigned their own codes to allow annunciation not only at the lobby but throughout the building for those members of the building staff who knew the codes.

Standpipes

The occupant use standpipe system, which was connected to the domestic water supply, provided two outlets per floor with 100 feet of 1 l/2-inch hose and a nozzle. The hose cabinets were located in corridors on each floor.

A dry standpipe system was originally installed with 6 inch risers in the west and center stair towers and outlets for 2 l/2 fire department hose lines at each floor level. This system was converted to a wet riser system in 1988, to supply automatic sprinklers on some of the upper floors. An 8 inch water supply was provided to deliver water to two 750 gpm electric fire pumps, one in the basement and one on the 12th floor.

The basement pump supplied the lower standpipe zone (floors B-12) while the 12th floor pump served the upper zone (floors 13-38).

There was no standpipe in the east stair tower.

A November 1988 Board of Building Standards decision permitted both zones to be served by a common fire department connection, as part of a plan that would provide for the installation of automatic sprinklers on all floors by November 1993.2

Due to the height of the zones and the installation of fire pumps, pressures exceeded the 100 psi limit permitted by NFPA 14, Installation of Standpipe and Hose Sytems at the standpipe hose outlets on several lower floors in each zone. Pressure restricting devices, which limit the discharge through standpipe outlets by restricting the orifice, were installed on the mezzanine and second floor levels and on floors 26 through 30. Pressure reducing valves, which regulate both static pressure and discharge pressure under variable flow conditions, were installed on floors 13 through 25.

Both types of devices prevent dangerous discharge pressures from hose outlets at the lower floors of each standpipe zone. The Philadelphia Fire Department investigators report that the plans submitted at the time the standpipes were converted did not indicate that PRVs were to be installed.

Automatic Sprinklers

Only the service floors located below grade were protected by automatic sprinklers at the time of construction. Conversion of the dry standpipe to a wet system with fire pumps facilitated the installation of automatic sprinklers throughout the building. At the request of selected tenants, sprinklers were installed on several floors during renovations, including all of the 30th, 31st, 34th, and 35th floors, and parts of floors 11 and 15. Limited service sprinklers, connected to the domestic water supply system, were installed in part of the 37th floor. The building owners had plans to install sprinklers on additional floors as they were renovated.

 

 
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