News


Menlo Park: Sharon Heights fire leaves 50 temporarily homeless

Two apartments damaged, but discovery of asbestos led to larger evacuation

A structure fire reported just after midnight Saturday (April 23) in a three-story Sharon Heights apartment complex in Menlo Park displaced 50 residents from 30 apartments, according to Chief Harold Schapelhouman of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.

The one-alarm fire at 350 Sharon Park Drive was knocked down in about 30 minutes by firefighters from the Menlo Park and Woodside fire protection districts, Chief Schapelhouman said. The fire left only two apartments uninhabitable – a first floor unit and the unit directly above it – but smoke, the discovery of asbestos and the potential for the fire to spread led to the larger evacuation, he said.

Firefighters reported just one injury: an occupant of the first-floor apartment where the fire is thought to have started cut his hand while breaking the glass of a cabinet containing a fire extinguisher, the chief said.

The cause appears to have been a case of unattended cooking in the first-floor apartment, the chief said. Firefighters are investigating.

The apartments are older, built before the requirement for internal sprinklers, the chief said. "Only the quick and aggressive actions of the firefighters prevented the fire from creating further damage and spreading both horizontally and vertically," he said.

Firefighters arrived about seven minutes after the first report, saw smoke coming from a first-floor apartment and upgraded the seriousness of the fire, the chief said. All told, the fire drew five engines, a ladder truck and two battalion chiefs – about 20 firefighters in total – to the scene.

The firefighters found fire in the walls of the apartment directly above the first-floor unit, but not in the walls of the third-floor unit, the chief said.

Firefighters were on the scene for hours after the fire was knocked down, in part to make sure that the fire was completely out, the chief said. Apartment management is going to handle relocating the displaced residents, he said.

Dave Boyce

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2016 at 4:51 pm

pearl is a registered user.

Who would move into a building that didn't have overhead fire sprinklers?!? The owners of buildings without fire sprinklers should be ordered to install them, effective IMMEDIATELY!!! Especially in buildings where older folks reside, as the tendency for fires starting because of unattended cooking, falling asleep in bed while smoking, and such, appear to occur more frequently in buildings where these older populations reside.


13 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 25, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Great idea Pearl. Are you going to pay for it? For someone that rails against landlords raising rents, especially on the elderly, don't you think a regulation like this would cause them to raise rents? Not to mention the total disruption to tenants while the work is being done. Pipes for fire sprinklers don't magically go into ceilings and walls that are covered with drywall. This vastly increases the cost of the work. The landlord is going to pass that on.

How about this? How about people behave responsibly, old or not?


Like this comment
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2016 at 5:22 pm

pearl is a registered user.

Menlo Voter:

Uuuhhhh...I'll have to think about that: Would I rather pay for overhead water sprinklers, or burn up in a fire? I'll have to get back to you on that.

Yes, wouldn't it be nice if everyone behaved responsibly, but, realistically, we know that that's not going to happen.

So, back to the question: Would I rather pay for overhead water sprinklers, or burn up in a fire?

Pearl


7 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 25, 2016 at 5:42 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

amazing how people want everything but don't want to pay for it in rent increases. Nothing is for free.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 25, 2016 at 7:06 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

stop:

slumlords? No. Some folks that actually know what it costs to provide fire sprinklers. Especially when they are retrofitted in existing structures. Retrofitting is VERY expensive. If you don't believe me call a few sprinkler contractors and find out. Landlords are running a BUSINESS. I know that's hard to believe, but that means they need to make a profit. Things like retrofitting sprinklers cost A LOT of money. They aren't going to do it without passing on those costs. It's a BUSINESS. Is it really that confusing for you? Seriously? What else do you expect businesses to give you for free?

By the way, I don't own any rental property. I just happen to be in construction and know what this stuff costs.


Like this comment
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2016 at 7:12 pm

[Post removed. Please make your point without attacking other posters.]


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 25, 2016 at 7:17 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

stop:

apparently you've never run a business.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 25, 2016 at 8:15 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"I bet you object to having seat belts and air bags in your vehicle as well.."

Not at all. What I object to is the expectation that property owners should retrofit their properties with fire sprinklers with no cost implications to their tenants. Do you think there were no cost implications for buyers when car makers were required to add seat belts and air bags?

These are business owners with costs of doing business. Fire sprinklers weren't required when they bought those properties. If we are now to require them to install them are we to not expect that cost of doing business isn't going to be added into the calculus of what the rent is required to cover the cost of doing business?


Like this comment
Posted by Building?
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 25, 2016 at 8:40 pm

Does anyone know which building this was?


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 26, 2016 at 7:12 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

In my personal opinion fire sprinklers should be required in all apartments, even existing ones.

In addition to providing immediate fire suppression (which dramatically improves the opportunity for making a safe exit) the activation of any fire sprinkler send an automatic fire alarm.

We retrofitted our home with fire sprinklers almost a decade ago and they have been trouble free and provide us with a lot of peace of mind - particularly when we have overnight guests.

It would be very helpful if local jurisdictions would waive fees for fire sprinkler installation and if water suppliers would not charge extra when larger water meters are required for a fire sprinkler installation.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 26, 2016 at 7:56 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the payoff of having fire sprinklers in apartment buildings:

"Executive Summary
1.
This paper summarizes the findings from an evaluation of the historical fire protection performance of sprinkler systems in multi-level residential buildings in British Columbia (BC), with the intent of anticipating how the fire safety systems should perform in six-story mid-rise wood-frame buildings, permitted in BC since 2009.

2.
The 1,942 fire incidents analysed occurred between October 5, 2006 and October 5, 2011 in apartment/townhouse structures in BC that were either completely sprinklered or completely unsprinklered. Overall, 565 (29.1%) fire incidents occurred in completely sprinklered buildings. The incident reports associated to these fires were submitted by 101 different reporting locations in the province, spanninmunicipal areas, non-municipal areas (both with and without fire protection), and First Nations land areas.
3.
The areas of origin for the fires in sprinklered and unsprinklered buildings were highly comparable, with the greatest percentage (around 40%, overall) originating from kitchen/cooking areas.
4.
As a function of the size/spread of the fire, it was not always the case that sprinklered buildings required activation of the sprinkler system to control the fire. The sprinkler protection systems in sprinklered buildings extinguished 21.6% (n= 122) of the fires, and the Fire Department was required significantly less often to control fires in sprinklered buildings (19.5% of fires, compared to 39.0% in unsprinklered buildings). Furthermore, when the Fire Department did respond to fires in sprinklered buildings, significantly fewer resources were deployed, with multiple hose lines utilised in only 3.9% of cases, compared with 14.4% of cases in unsprinklered buildings.
5.
The 21.6% of fires in sprinklered buildings that were controlled by the sprinkler systems never extended beyond the floor of origin, and were contained to the room of origin 96.2% of the time. In comparison, 18.8% of the fires in unsprinklered buildings extended beyond the room of origin, and 12.7% extended beyond the floor of origin.
6.
Death and injury were significantly less frequent in sprinklered buildings. The odds of a death in an unsprinklered building fire was 11.9 times greater than for fires in sprinklered buildings, with death rates of 1.8 deaths per 1,000 fires in sprinklered buildings compared to 21.1 deaths per 1,000 fires in unsprinklered buildings. The odds of an injury in an unsprinklered building fire was 2.9 times greater
than for fires in sprinklered buildings, with injury rates of 44.2 per 1,000 fires in sprinklered buildings compared to 127.1 injuries per 1,000 fires in unsprinklered buildings."

Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 26, 2016 at 9:02 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Fire sprinklers are great. People just need to understand that the cost of retrofitting and/or installing sprinklers is going to be passed on to renters.

In new construction when all the walls and ceilings are open fire sprinkler systems cost upward of $5 per square foot. It can run higher depending on whether or not the water meter needs to be upsized. That can get very expensive very quickly depending on available water flow and calculated system demand. Retrofitting is even more expensive due to the necessity of opening walls and ceilings, then patching and painting.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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