Temporary Fire Protection System Enables Fire Pump Room Upgrades in Massachusetts
PME Magazine May 2020
By Sam Milbury
The fire hazards found in buildings under construction or renovation differ in many ways from those in completed buildings. The most obvious difference is their lack of fire protection.
In new construction and many major restoration projects, structures are vulnerable because code-required fire protection systems such as sprinklers, smoke detection, and fire alarms typically have not yet been installed or are non-operational. A temporary fire protection solution that integrates with an existing pumping system helps ensure continuity and compliance.
55 Cambridge Parkway, a nine-story mixed-use commercial building, is located in the heart of Kendall Square in bustling Cambridge, Massachusetts. When it became time to replace the building’s fire pump room, a temporary fire protection system was needed to maintain safety and meet fire codes during construction.
Design specifications dictated the need for a temporary system capable of handling a flow of 1,200 gpm with 70 psi of street pressure and 140 psi of outlet pressure. The system also needed to automatically activate upon pressure drop.
Because the office building is located adjacent to one of the region’s busiest shopping centers, there was concern about disrupting the neighborhood’s heavy foot traffic if the temporary fire protection system was located on the sidewalk outside the office building.
Local HVAC contractor Cannistraro reached out to Xylem to develop a temporary fire protection solution. Xylem engineers designed a system with a Godwin HL130M Dri-Prime pump, which offers flow rates up to 1,500 gpm and has the capability to handle discharge pressures of 273 psi.
A pressure reducing valve was installed on the inlet to control street pressure, and a fire switch was added to automatically activate the pump in case of a drop in pressure. An auto-dialer was also put in to alert the contractor upon pump activation.
To eliminate site concerns, the Xylem team suggested locating the temporary fire protection system inside a nearby semi-enclosed parking garage. To fit the parking structure’s height clearance — which was less than 8 feet — the pump exhaust was modified to reduce the overall unit height to 7 feet 6 inches and vented out 90 degrees to exit the garage.
Xylem’s solution provided a secure temporary fire protection system that enabled the customer to focus on installing the permanent pump system.
What’s more, creative thinking on the part of Xylem engineers resolved the customer’s concern of impeding foot traffic in a heavily traveled urban area while lowering project costs.
The unique solution also eliminated concerns that the temporary system would obstruct scenic views of the Boston skyline and Charles River, for which the Kendall Square commercial district is known.
Designing the system to fit in the parking garage not only solved the customer’s concerns but reduced project costs because a police officer wasn’t required to direct traffic.
The addition of a fire switch and auto dialer system provided peace of mind to both the customer and contractor, knowing the system would automatically activate upon pressure drop as well as instantly contact the project manager upon activation.