Post a New Topic
Original post made
on Mar 18, 2009
I had the opportunity to talk with a number of the affected merchants this morning. Clearly this fire will have a major impact on their businesses and there will be a prolonged delay before they will be back in operation. Thanks to the Fire District and superb mutual aid from surrounding jurisdictions this fire was confined to a single building - it could easily have taken out a whole block of businesses.
Hopefully all the other merchants on Santa Cruz who occupy buildings built years ago will realize that investing in improved fire detection and suppression equipment may be a very prudent thing to do rather than suffer the extended loss of use that will occur from a fire like this one.
It is short sighted to do only what is required by the very outdated City of Menlo Park regulations. If you are willing to pay for fire insurance then you should be willing to make a similar investment in fire prevention. The Fire District will gladly do surveys of any business that wants to ensure that its alarm systems are operating properly and to help them explore retrofitting fire sprinklers into their buildings.
Mr. Carpenter should have disclosed that he and the MP Fire Dept. want the city of Menlo Park to require automatic sprinklers in all homes as well as businesses. Having had to install sprinklers in a downtown building as a condition of remodeling, I know that the cost is prohibative. Those business men would be better advised to just increase their insurance to cover such a loss.
In fact, I have had my home retrofitted with fire sprinklers and I can assure you the cost of such a retrofit, the MOST expensive type of installation, was not prohibitive. And it certainly is saving me money on my home insurance and will avoid my family having to live someplace else for a year or more if our unsprinkled home had been badly damaged by a fire. Similarly, businesses should make an economic calculation of the cost of a long term business interruption and decide if fire sprinklers are a better alternative.
The new National Fire Code will soon require sprinklers in new homes regardless of what Menlo Park decides to do. You can wait until then and cross your fingers or you can be proactive. Your choice.
How successful would sprinklers have been at getting to an electrical fire that started inside the walls? Firefighters had to hack through walls and ceilings to get at the source -- how would sprinklers have put out the fire?
Very good question.
The origin of the fire appears, but it is not yet proven, to have been an equipment closet that would have had a sprinkler head in it if sprinklers were installed. The fire then apparently spread from that room through the electrical and ventilation chases to the inside of the walls and between the floor joists.
In my opinion, a sprinkler system would have extinguished the fire, and also sounded a proper fire alarm, before the fire had a chance to spread. Engine 6 would have responded in less than three minutes and the sprinkler system would have been shut off. There would have been zero damage to the rest of the structure and no smoke damage to the businesses in the building. When the building is repaired it will, ironically, be required to have fire sprinklers.
I went over and looked at the buildings and the damage didn't look that bad at all. The fact that it will cost a million shows how crazy construction costs are in the US.
Um, you should see the interior and the second floor -- that's where the damage was.
I built my house in Atherton in 2005 and the cost to install fire sprinklers was approx $2 per sq ft. Prices are likely up a bit since then. Commercial installation is significantly higher because residential is pvc pipe and commercial is steel. I sell insurance, put sprinklers in your house and get a 25% credit on your premium. For your business the credit can be as high as 40%.
What is the payback period on sprinklers via insurance discounts. My experience is that it would be on the order of decades. Further, the idea of having charged PVC in the ceiling for decades seems ripe for disaster.
Seems more cost effective to force people to have smoke alarms wired back to a monitoring service than to have sprinklers. Done properly, the alarm system can bring the resources quickly enough to prevent damage.
Instead, the government mandates systems which costs tens of thousands of dollars. They tax neighborhood water systems, requiring millions of dollars in water company related infrastructure expansion.
Sprinklers sound great on the surface. But, when you lift up the lid they smell rotten.
Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.
Post a comment
Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online.
Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information
We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.
Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?
- Atherton: Lindenwood
- Atherton: Lloyden Park
- Atherton: other
- Atherton: West Atherton
- Atherton: West of Alameda
- Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
- Menlo Park: Belle Haven
- Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
- Menlo Park: Downtown
- Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
- Menlo Park: Felton Gables
- Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
- Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
- Menlo Park: other
- Menlo Park: Park Forest
- Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
- Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
- Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
- Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
- Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
- Menlo Park: The Willows
- Menlo Park: University Heights
- Portola Valley: Brookside Park
- Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
- Portola Valley: Ladera
- Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
- Portola Valley: other
- Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
- Portola Valley: Westridge
- Portola Valley: Woodside Highlands
- Woodside: Emerald Hills
- Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
- Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
- Woodside: Mountain Home Road
- Woodside: other
- Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
- Woodside: Woodside Glens
- Woodside: Woodside Heights
- Woodside: Woodside Hills
- Belle Haven Elementary
- Corte Madera School
- Encinal School
- Hillview Middle School
- James Flood Magnet School
- La Entrada School
- Las Lomitas School
- Laurel School
- Menlo-Atherton High School
- Oak Knoll School
- Ormondale School
- Willow Oaks Elementary
- Woodside High School
- Woodside School
- another community
Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.
Freebirds Palo Alto shutters, Pieology to move in
By Elena Kadvany | 12 comments | 3,170 views
A Glimpse into local HS Suicide
By Chandrama Anderson | 6 comments | 2,196 views
Deny the 429 Univ Ave Project Appeal
By Steve Levy | 7 comments | 1,352 views
Now Playing - Your Dinner!
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 932 views
Water War & Peace
By Paul Bendix | 1 comment | 322 views
Home & Real Estate
Shop Menlo Park
Send News Tips
Circulation & Delivery
Palo Alto Online
Mountain View Voice
© 2015 The Almanac
All rights reserved.