between code assumptions and firefighting; tactics
must be addressed.
The inconsistency between fire department tactics
and design criteria for standpipe hose outlet
pressures was widely recognized before this
fire. However, little was done to change fire
department tactics or to amend the code requirements
for standpipe installations.
Fire departments utilize lightweight hose and
automatic nozzles for the same reasons the code
requires pressure reducing valves: firefighter
safety. The inconsistency between these approaches
can cause serious problems. Where pressure reducing
valves are not installed, fire departments can
usually augment water supplies by connecting
to the fire department connections. However,
when contemporary firefighting tactics are employed
and improperly adjusted PRVs are installed,
the combination is likely to produce hose streams
with little reach or effectiveness.
The PRV equipped hose outlets on the 22nd floor
of One Meridian Plaza, adjusted as reported
at the time of the fire, would have produced
nozzle pressures of approximately 40 psi. This
is insufficient for a straight stream device
and dangerously inadequate for a fog nozzle.
Standard operating procedures for high-rise
buildings, particularly those not protected
by automatic sprinklers, should reflect the
potential need to employ heavy firefighting
streams, which may require higher flows and
6. Pre-fire planning is an essential
fire department function.
The availability of information about the building
was a problem in this incident.
The purpose of conducting pre-fire plans is
be to gather information about buildings and
occupancies from the perspective that a fire
will eventually occur in the occupancy. This
information should be used to evaluate fire
department readiness and resource capabilities.
At a fire scene, pre-fire plan information can
be used to formulate strategies for dealing
with the circumstances which present themselves.
Pre-fire planning activities should identify
building and fire protection features which
are likely to help or hinder firefighting operations
and record this information in a format usable
to firefighters at the scene of an emergency.
Recognizing and recording information about
pressure restricting devices and pressure reducing
valves should be among the highest priorities.
Information on fire alarm systems and auxiliary
features such as elevator recall, fan control
or shutdown, and door releases should also be
The Fire Department was unable to obtain important
details about the installed fire protection
at One Meridian Plaza during critical stages
of the fire attack. Detailed information about
the design and installation of standpipes, pressure
relief valves and the fire pump, could have
aided firefighters significantly if it had been
available earlier in the fire.
Pre-fire plans and standard operating procedures
should also consider evacuation procedures and
plans for the removal of occupants.
Occupants and central station operators must
always treat automatic fire alarms as though
they were actual fires. especially in high-rise
Building personnel, alarm services, and fire
departments must develop an expectation that
an automatic alarm may be an indication of an
actual fire in progress. Automatic detection
systems have gained a reputation for unnecessary
alarms in many installations. This has caused
an attitude of complacency that can be fatal
in responding to such alarms. To change such
attitudes and expectations, it will be necessary
to improve the reliability and performance of
By choosing to investigate and verify the alarm
condition, the building engineer nearly lost
his life. If not for the ability to communicate
with the lobby guard to relay instructions for
manually recalling the elevator, this individual
would likely have shared the fate of his counterpart
who died in a service elevator at the First
Interstate Bank Building Fire in Los Angeles
(May 4, 1988).