Design approach adds extra floor to condominiums

Design approach adds extra floor to condominiums

October 29, 2009 – The 937 Condominiums is a 16-story tower in the relatively new, upscale Pearl District in downtown Portland, Ore. The condos range from $300,000 to $2.2 million.

In August 2009, the 937 Condominiums project was a featured building during the region’s first urban Street of Dreams, and at the 2009 Ultimate Open House, presented by the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland in April.

The project may earn a platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® program.

“We were asked in multiple meetings to help the owner by providing green building solutions that could contribute to higher LEED certifications, and ideas to provide a better value to the owner,” said Western States Fire Protection Co. Engineer Jared Hill, P.E.

Providing outside-the-box ideas at the bid interview helped Western States Fire Protection Co. secure the project contract.

“We contributed multiple ideas to the process, including offering solutions such as recycling all water used for testing back into the break tank and providing information about the recycled content of the products we use,” Hill said.

Routing the drain lines back to the tank may save thousands of gallons of water when the pressure-reducing hose valves are tested.
According to the Northwest Examiner article “First urban Street of Dreams coming to Pearl,” the building will use about 30 percent less energy and water than similar buildings of its size.

“We also put a lot of extra effort into brainstorming a hanger assembly that would minimize the ceiling space needed for our pipe while still meeting code requirements,” Hill said.

The result was a dimension of only 5 inches from the bottom of the structure to the finished ceiling. The vertical space savings allowed the tower to grow from a 15-story building as initially designed to 16 stories. The additional floor helped the developer, W&K Development, create eight additional condo units bringing the total number of units to 114, according to the Daily Journal of Commerce article “Sustainable building by design.”

The city of Portland has strict height limits on its downtown construction, and the building remained under the maximum height while adding the extra floor, bringing in added revenue for the client.

The 250,000-square-foot building has 20,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor with two levels of subterranean parking. Western States Fire Protection Co. designed and installed the garages and retail shell using steel pipe. The condominium floors were installed using Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride (CPVC).

There are two staircases with standpipes, with the entire system being served by a fire pump in the garage. There is an on-site break tank feeding the fire pump. An automatic fill line from the city’s water supplies the break tank.

The entire project was design/build and no fire protection drawings were provided.

Western States Fire Protection Co. was involved in the project since its inception in August 2006.

Western States Fire Protection Co. is a full-service fire protection contractor with 26 locations west of the Mississippi, including Fire Protection Services, National Fire Suppression, and Statewide Fire Protection divisions. Visit WSFP.COM to learn how we can serve you.

Sprinklers save lives

Home Fire Sprinkler Save

Oct. 13, 2009 – My story isn’t that different from most victims who’ve had a fire in their home, but here it is in my own words…

On Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009, my husband and I were at home while two workers put the last coat of sealant on our stained concrete floor in the living room. We did not know this but the sealant was combustible. At 2:00 p.m., it caught fire. It ignited because the power and gas were not shut-off in the living room or the house.

In less than one second, a flash fire erupted and streaked across the entire floor. The room was engulfed in flames. There were shouts and screams, and in less than 10 seconds, the fire detector sounded its alarm.

The sprinklers in the living room and nearby hall started, and put out the blaze almost immediately. The room had burned so hot and fast that the frames to the patio doors are inoperable. The walls, ceiling, and drapes were badly scorched, but not burned because of the sprinklers. The damage to the house from the fire was very minimal.

Smoke damage was the worst part as black smoke had rolled all throughout the house. The fire ignited the protective plastic on the walls that the workers had put up to contain smells and deadly gases in the living room. The water damage from the sprinklers was unfortunate, but easily repaired.

It took just four days to dry out the walls and carpet. The soot that blew through the AC ducts was far more extensive.

We will need to repaint every wall, rewash every piece of clothing, and wipe down the interior and exterior of every cabinet. All of the furniture, drapes, and blinds are filthy from soot, which has taken many weeks to repair.

My heart goes out to anyone who has survived a fire. It’s terrifying, it’s fast, it’s surreal. And it could have been deadly. If there had been no sprinklers, we would have possibly lost lives and definitely lost our entire house. The fire would have gone on for several minutes, growing and growing in size and power. The fire department would have destroyed the rest of the home to put out the blaze with their axes and water hoses.

An eight-day stay in a hotel was chaotic but easy compared to losing everything. And we came very, very close to that.

For anyone who thinks that sprinklers in a residential home are an unnecessary luxury at best, at worst a costly annoyance, please consider this: My husband could have been trapped in that blaze; and the workers could have died as well. However, the sprinklers were just outside our living room.

Sprinklers work. Sprinklers save lives. Sprinklers save property. I am grateful they are in my home and will be in every home I ever purchase from now on.

I do not work for a fire protection company. I am an interior designer, wife, and mother of two.

Anne M.
Las Vegas , NV
A customer of Western States Fire Protection Co.