Tuesday, February 14, 2012

When a Sprinkler System Fails theres plenty of questions


When Joe Hardy of 84 Lumber fame Built Nemacolin Woodlands Resort off US 40 in Historic Fayette County Pa.
He planned it to be a 5 star resort with both the best of comfort and safety for his guests who pay big bucks to enjoy the atmosphere of the resort which is located in a mountainous section of the state. Joe hardy Takes the safety and security of all his guests very seriously.
I know this because one of my customers owns a beautiful home on the property near the Golf Course and he took me around the place for a tour and see what all Joe Hardy has done to make it such a special place. Joe Hardy spares no expense when it comes to his guests.

You can stay at a replica French Chateau Hotel enjoy 5 star dining, Golf at the fantastic Mystic Rock Golf Course. You can rent or bring your own Hummer and enjoy an Off road course , Enjoy a deluxe Paint Ball Combat Course ,Peruse numerous small dedicated museums full of antique cars and planes The resort even has a small air strip for private planes to land. Best of all is to enjoy winter time skiing at a magnificent Mystic Ski Lodge on top of the mountain.
But it was there where tragedy would strike this week and the lodge would burn to the ground . Luckily no one was inside when the fire started but by the time firefighters arrived from 4 different county's and with temperatures in the single digits,frozen fire hydrants and a ferocious wind they where not able to save it. The fire grew so strong and fast fire fighters had there own hoses and trucks damaged by it and had to pull back from it.

But the big question now is The sprinkler system which protects the lodge activated as reported by local news channels ,and was not able to either suppress the fire or hold it at bay as the fire grew in intensity an why did it not do its job. I fully expect since this was such a high profile fire agents from the ATF will be assisting State Police Fire Marshals in the fire. Which they may never be able to pin point its cause do to the destruction level.

The NFPA- National Fire Protection Agency will tell you there has never been a multiple fatality in a structure with a properly designed,installed and maintained sprinkler system.
While thank God there where no fatalities or life threatening injury's Investigators will be focusing on the words Properly designed , installed and maintained when it comes to getting answers why the system did not stop or slow the fire. The questions they will be seeking answers to will include.

1# who designed the system was it a registered design professional IE Architect, Engineer etc. and where they qualified to design such a system?

2# Was the system a full or partial protection system? what was covered what was not?

3# Where the pattern of sprinkler heads properly designed to cover the area of the fire,and where they proper type and heat setting? Where any of them blocked by interior wall or equipment moves etc.?

4# Was the piping properly sized to bring enough water to the heads?

5# Was there proper water supply to structure ? This is important with it being on top of a slope.
water pressure would be low this means a underground storage tank and power backed up pump.

6# Was the unique needs of this structure figured into the design?Including the high winds on the mountain?

7# Was the system properly tested and maintained to NFPA standards ?Where those doing the maintenance properly qualified ?

If all the answers are yes it was properly designed ,installed and maintained and it still failed then hopefully there will be lesson's learned to prevent such a problem from ever happening again . Unfortunately no matter how well something is designed it can and will fail at the worst possible time. Did Murphy s law strike? we will have to wait till the report comes out.
So that better designed systems are the result.

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