Standpipe helps firefighters control N.Y. University Hospital fire

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A two-alarm fire requiring more than 100 New York City Firefighters erupted through a construction site at a NYU Langone Medical Center building in Manhattan on First Ave. and East 30th St. on Dec. 14. The fire was controlled in under an hour by FDNY Firefighters who were able to tap into the water supply because of a functioning temporary standpipe installed by a contractor member of the New York Fire Sprinkler Council a division of the Mechanical Contractors Association of New York (MCANY).

There were no patients or offices currently located inside what will be dedicated as the Kimmel Pavilion, a new 830,000-sq. ft. wing set to open in 2018. A video shot from an adjoining building shows how significant the fire was.

The standpipe contractor employs Steamfitters Local 638 union labor, which has been working at the construction site to install the Kimmel Pavilion’s fire suppression system in early stages of construction, a news release says.

“The standpipe at NYU’s Kimmel Pavilion wing was activated and in working condition, otherwise the consequences could have been fatal for our workers, responding New York City Firefighters, as well as hospital patients and staff in neighboring buildings,” said Dennis Delgandio, Steamfitters Local 638 foreman at the worksite. “Life-or-death instances such as this are perfect examples of how crucial it is for New York’s construction workforce to be significantly trained when installing life-saving fire equipment.”

Local 638 members complete a five-year apprentice program to learn how to design, install and maintain fire sprinklers, piping, heating and cooling systems for tens of thousands of buildings across New York.

A fatal 2007 Deutsche Bank fire bares similarities to the NYU blaze, and is a reminder of the importance of having a properly installed standpipe, according to a news release. That building was under demolition when it caught fire, and more than 100 firefighters were trapped inside, including two who died of cardiac arrest from smoke inhalation.

At the Deutsche Bank Building, investigators and fire marshals found numerous safety violations, including that the standpipe had been cut, resulting in an inability to deliver water to FDNY members on or near the fire floor. The tragedy resulted in the passing of four new laws in New York City that strengthened requirements for the inspection and maintenance of standpipes and sprinklers in buildings under construction.

“Following the Deutsche Bank Building fire, members of the Mechanical Contractors Association of New York served on a committee to make recommendations that would change the way the city looked at future construction, alterations and demolition sites. Today, the strengthened inspection, testing and maintenance standards can be largely credited for saving lives and reducing property damage, and the NYU Kimmel Pavilion fire is a significant example,” said MCANY executive vice-president Tony Saporito.

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