Fire and Salinas

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Fire and Salinas

I hear that the City of Salinas, Ca has almost completed its first municipal parking garage. The "salad bowl of the world" as the city in the central California coastal area bills itself, is very proud of its new structure. Its slated to open July 5.

Maybe…

It seems that the city parking department in the name of Mike Garner, acting parking operations officer, has been tasked by the local Fire Marshall to develop a fire evacuation plan for the garage. The roll up exit doors, which are open during business hours, but close automatically at 2 AM, don’t meet the state’s fire codes. (You now, panic bars, swing out, etc).  Because of the code violation, the garage cannot be used until the evacuation plan has been accepted. The roll up doors were approved at plan check, years ago, before construction started but that makes no nevermind now.

Lets see — at any time when the doors are closed there would be what, "zero" people in the structure. Mike has to figure out how to get no one out in the event of fire in the empty garage.

OK, lets be serious — someone could inadvertently get locked in. How do you get them out? There is one fire exit.  You could have a recording that went off with the fire alarms that directed anyone in the garage after hours to the fire exit. Of course, that recording would have to be different during the times when the garage is open as folks could then just use the exits or simply walk down the ramps.

Then there’s the expensive way. Replace the roll up personnel doors with normal, automatic locking panic doors. Of course that can’t be done by July 5.

So you could go to plan "C" — have the garage management walk the garage when its closing, ensuring that they are locking up an empty garage. You could continue to do that until you install the panic hardware.

However, if Mike goes to a local office building, gets a copy of their evacuation plan than has been approved, alters it (changes the address, floor numbers, etc) to fit the garage, and then presents it to the fire Marshall, all will be well.

Mike has been told that if he comes up with an acceptable evacuation plan, the Fire Marshall will give the place a certificate of occupancy. My experience is that fire Marshalls are a stubborn breed, and true to their mandate to make the world safe from fire, stick to the code.

Stay tuned — Mike could be opening after the weekend of the Fourth of July, 2006

JVH

John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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