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Hotel fires highlight the necessity for sprinklers and fire-resistant design

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Hotel fires highlight the necessity for sprinklers and fire-resistant design
The Wayfinder Hotel in Newport, R.I., and the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort in North Conway, N.H., both suffered extensive fire damage. One-third of their rooms were destroyed and most of the remaining property was affected by water and smoke damage.

The cause of both fires is unknown at this time. The 75 units in North Conway were built in 1971 and did not have sprinklers. Void spaces between a ceiling and floor above and a slope roof (cockloft construction) challenge the sprinkler’s suppression ability.

The need is to “build to exceed code” as codes in some cases allow for less desirable means due to gaining agreement from opposing sides. There is active debate and the end result may not be the most structurally sound or fire-safe construction method. National code reviews take place every three years.When building low-rise construction two-hour or higher fire wall assemblies may be required. They should be constructed of masonry or precast concrete and extend at least 30 inches above the roof line. Intumescent fire stop material should be used as caulking to fill in voids created by utility pipes.

There is a need to eliminate the grandfather clause and allow a fair time frame to bring all buildings into compliance. Too many older grandfathered buildings are currently unsafe. There is also a need for active sprinkler systems and fire-rated building products that save lives.

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