2 FM quick reads on high rise
1. How to Restore HVAC Systems After Flooding
In a significant flood, elements of or all of the HVAC system may be submerged in the flood waters. Even in components that were not submerged, such as air ducts, moisture can collect inside them due to how saturated the air is inside the facility.
Once the water has receded and if the system is deemed salvageable, it is important to thoroughly clean the components to ensure microbial contamination, dust and debris do not damage the facility's indoor air quality. All components of the HVAC system will need to be inspected, cleaned, and disinfected by a qualified professional.
Here are some tips from the Center for Disease Control on remediating flooded HVAC systems.
If unaffected parts of the building will remain in use during remediation, seal off the affected area with vapor-retarding barriers and maintain negative pressure in the affected area by using blowers to ventilate the area.
Any material that absorbed liquid will need to be removed, including insulation and filter media. When cleaning out the system, pay special attention to filter racks, drain pans, bends and horizontal sections of air ducts.
Disinfect the system's surfaces with a bleach solution and follow with a clean water rinse. Work from clean-to-dirty to avoid recontaminating areas just cleaned. If a component cannot be adequately cleaned and disinfected, it should be replaced.
Before reoccupying the space, run the HVAC system continuously at normal temperatures for two or three days to flush out the air. If after this point, there are still odors, investigate and remediate any overlooked areas of the system. Be sure to replace the air filters used during the remediation before normal occupancy resumes.
For more, go to the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/emres/Cleaning-Flood-HVAC.html
2. High-rise Fires Cause $99 Million in Damages a Year
According to recent statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, there were an average of 15,700 reported structure fires in high-rise buildings per year with an associated $235 million in direct property damage between 2005-2009.
Four property types make up 50 percent of the high rise fires cited, the greatest being apartment buildings at 44 percent. Hotels, medical facilities such as hospitals and doctor's offices, and general use offices each accounted for 2 percent.
Structure fires in these four property types resulted in $99 million in direct property damage per year. However, the risks of fire, fire death, and direct property damage due to fire tends to be lower in high-rise buildings than in shorter buildings of the same property use. And there is an overall downward trend in high-rise fires.
Some other findings of the report show that usage of wet pipe sprinklers and fire detection equipment is higher in high-rise buildings than in other buildings of the same property use and that most high-rise building fires begin on floors no higher than the 6th story. The risk of a fire is greater on the lower floors for apartments, hotels and motels, and facilities that care for the sick, but greater on the upper floors for office buildings.
Due to various factors, like the use of sprinkler systems, flame damage beyond the floor where the fire starts is very unusual in high-rise buildings.
When a high-rise fire fatally injures people who were not on the floor where the fire began, the report says, usually part of the blame lies in failing to protect the stairwells or elevators. For example, if the door to the exit stairs is blocked open and allows smoke or fire to enter or if the enclosure of the stairs is non-compliant with code and allows smoke into the stairway.
The full report can be found here: http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files//PDF/OS.HighRise.pdf