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

FIRE PROTECTION SYSTEMS

At the time of construction, the Philadelphia Building Code required only a local fire alarm system with manual stations at each exit and smoke detectors in the supply and return air shafts. Hose stations supplied from the domestic water service and portable fire extinguishers were required for occupant use. Dry standpipes were installed for fire department use. Below ground levels were required to be provided with automatic sprinklers.

As a result of local code changes, several improvements to the fire protection systems were made in the years following the building’s construction.

In 1981, the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections implemented amendments to the fire code which were intended to address the life safety of high-rise building occupants. These requirements included installation of stair identification signs, provisions to permit stairway re-entry, and installation of smoke detection in common areas in the path of access to exits. The “common areas” provision of the code was intended to address corridors and exit passageways in multi-tenant floors. The smoke detector requirements were interpreted in such a way that single tenant “open plan” floors were only required to have detectors installed at the exits; the entire floor, although open, was not considered a “common area.” Smoke detectors were also installed in the return air plenum adjacent to the return air shaft intakes in each comer of the building. These provisions required that building owners file permits for this work within one year of the code change. City records do not indicate when this work was performed in this particular building or if it was inspected and approved.


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