Last Tuesday February 12th, a fire was reported at the Ramada Inn on Plantside Drive in Louisville, KY by an employee at a nearby car dealership. When firefighters arrived, there were flames coming from the second floor of one of the hotel towers. According to the Fire Department Chief Sean Dreisbach, the fire had already spread to the third floor and smoke had already damaged the second, third and fourth floor. It was also reported the building’s alarm system was not working properly, and if that worker hadn’t spotted the flames, the situation could have been a lot worst.
This is why we continue to push the importance of the installation and maintenance of a building’s fire barriers. A building’s fire barriers include systems such as fire/smoke doors, fire walls/barriers (firestopping) as well as fire/smoke dampers. Each system is specifically designed to help compartmentalize a facility and prevent the spread of fire and smoke. Because they help to contain fire and smoke to one location, this allows for building occupants to safely evacuate. But just like a fire alarm, they can become deficient over time and require routine inspections and repairs. It may seem like one more thing to add to your never ending to do list, but in the event of a fire, it could make all the difference.
- Fire Doors – National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 80 states, “Fire door assemblies must be inspected and tested annually, with a written record of the inspection signed and kept for the inspection by the AHJ”.
- Firestopping – International Fire Code (IFC) and the International Building Code (IBC), “Firewalls, partitions, smoke barriers, ceilings and floors) must be maintained annually and properly repaired, restored or replaced when damaged, altered, breached or penetrated”.
- Fire/Smoke Dampers – NFPA 80 and 105, “Each damper shall be tested and inspected every 4 years, except in hospitals, which is every 6 years”.
Fortunately, the hotel was safely evacuated and there were no injuries, but with routine barrier management, the fire and smoke could have been prevented from spreading and the property damage could have been significantly less.