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If you have comments or would like to submit an article to future newsletters, contact Alpa Vaghani at avaghani@central.uh.edu by the 20th of each month.
 

                                                                                                               

CALHOUN LOFTS: INTEGRATING FIRE AND LIFE SAFETY INTO “THE SIMPLE LIFE MADE STYLISH”

“The simple life made stylish” appropriately illustrates how Calhoun Lofts appeals to one’s senses. What is not so apparent is the multitude of systems which are functioning behind the scenes, monitoring the environment and responding as necessary to changes in that environment. The fire and life safety systems are an example of one of those systems.

The fire and life system is comprised of a multitude of subsystems all working together to ensure that an appropriate action is initiated should an incident occur. A few of the subsystems includes:
    • Arc and ground fault detector circuits to shut off electricity in less than a second should a fault occur
    • Smoke detectors to signal if a fire has occurred
    • Duct detectors to shut off the air handlers to stop the spread of smoke
    • Fire sprinklers to control a fire
    • A fire pump to supply water for the fire sprinkler system
    • A fire standpipe system to provide water for fire fighters to battle a blaze
    • Fire dampers in duct work and fire walls to slow the spread of smoke and fire through fire barriers
    • Fire rated walls and glass to slow the spread of fire
    • Fire caulking in small penetrations in walls and floors to stop smoke spread
    • Elevator controls which allow Fire Fighters to control elevators for use in fire fighting
    • Pressurized stairwells to stop smoke from entering the stairs
    • Hold-open magnets on key fire doors to allow them to normally be open but to close on alarm
    • Emergency lighting to ensure one is able to see well enough to evacuate
    • An emergency generator to power all of the life safety devices
    • A fire alarm system which monitors and controls a number of the devices previously mentioned

The UH Fire Marshal’s Office ensures through numerous inspections and tests that all of the systems function both independently and in cooperation with one another. This task begins during the design phase of the project when the subsystems are being discussed and ideas are placed on paper. It continues during the installation phase and culminates with the acceptance testing phase. While that seems like the end of the process it is only the beginning. The systems now have to be routinely monitored, inspected, and tested to ensure that everything is working as it was designed.

“The simple life made stylish” may be simple on the surface but is anything but simple to achieve.