The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 26, 2010

School Building Committee looks at fire safety

Fire safety and emergency power were two of the topics discussed at the November 18 Carlisle School Building Committee (SBC) meeting. The committee is working with HMFH Architects, Inc. to finish designs for a new classroom building to replace the Spalding Building and to renovate other buildings on the school campus.

HMFH Architect Arthur Duffy warned the committee that after the construction site is established during February vacation and areas of the plaza are fenced off, the Fire Department will have difficulty accessing the fire pond at the end of Church Street from a School Street location. Buildings on School Street would be affected, he said. HMFH Architect Laura Wernick said, “We should get the cistern on site as soon as possible.”

The cistern location has been moved to between the brick building and the Highland Building. Duffy said that installing the cistern over the summer will be a challenge. After the site is prepared there are many tests that must be done on the cistern and the pump system before the system can be used. Contacted later, SBC Chair Lee Storrs said, “We had always planned to install the cisterns this coming summer, so the water should be available.”

Highland to hook up to cistern

SBC member Bill Risso noted that the cost for hooking the Highland Building to the new cistern can be reimbursed by the Highland Committee. Town Treasurer Larry Barton expressed concern that the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) would have a negative reaction to connecting the Highland Building since it is not in the scope of the project. Fennell agreed that it would be ineligible for state reimbursement, but did not consider it a major problem, explaining that by the end of the project there will also be change orders that the MSBA may not fund. Flannery said, “The size of the cistern will be the same whether it is used by Highland or not.” Duffy suggested the contractor break out the cost of hooking up Highland as a separate line item.

Fire lane

After meeting with the Fire Department, Duffy said, the architects have finalized the fire truck access lane. The current access lane from School Street to the corner of the Robbins Building will be maintained. If the trucks need access to Wilkins and the new building, they will take a sharp left at the corner of Robbins and back into place between Robbins and Wilkins. The planned fire lane next to the plaza will be slightly larger, he said.

Water deluge protects auditorium

Duffy explained that the fire suppression system in the Corey stage area is a “deluge” water system, meaning a valve is opened when heat is detected and a large amount of water flows onto the stage and curtain area. When the new cistern is in place the amount of water could double.

Reached later by email, Flannery explained, “The proscenium opening has seven sprinkler heads that are activated by sensors set for 165 degrees. When activated, each sprinkler head is designed to discharge 15 gallons per minute. A total of 105 gallons per minute creates a deluge that provides a water curtain between a fire on the stage and the 387 occupants in the auditorium. This allows the occupants safety in exiting the auditorium with a fire on stage.”

Asked if the deluge would empty the cistern, he replied, “Smoke detectors would sense a fire well before the room reached 165 degrees and notify the Fire Department. A reasonable response time expected by the Fire Department would be 10 minutes and the water flow could be turned off by the Fire Department if the fire was extinguished. Fifteen hundred to 2,000 gallons of water could have flowed in this time. There would be approximately 80,000 gallons in the cisterns.”

Unresolved issues - transformer, fire doors

Risso raised a concern about the new transformer which will be installed on a School Street pole to provide power to the new cistern pump house. If the existing transformer loses power, the school’s generator comes on but “if we lose power at the pole at the street, the water pump house loses power but the school generator doesn’t come on,” said Risso. There were no plans to hook the new transformer to the generator system. This would stop the use of the cistern in the case of a fire.

Duffy asked the committee for suggestions for “panic hardware,” which automatically lock doors during an emergency. All fire doors need magnetic holders which are automatically released in case of fire, said Flannery. “I suggest we address this issue in modifying the fire alarm system. The law is clear, if a fire door is open it has be held by a magnetic holder, not blocked open.” Duffy said he was unclear whether classroom doors had to have magnetic holders. Flannery suggested Duffy check with the building commissioner. ∆

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