12M market invests in fire prevention

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December 06, 2011

The new $12 million straw market has invested heavily in fire prevention and safety, Guardian Business can confirm, with both the contractor and a top engineer for the government confirming the site is "adequately protected".  The announcement follows the Bay Street blaze last Friday, which razed the temporary market, destroyed an adjacent building and heavily damaged the Pompey Museum and the majority of the artifacts inside.

It was the second major fire on Bay Street in the last year, and the third major straw market fire in Nassau in recent memory.  According to Bob Hall, the construction manager at Cavalier Construction, the site is well protected.  "Smoke detectors, fire alarms and a sprinkler system have all been incorporated into the design," he told Guardian Business. "There is also a water reservoir tank containing 1,000 gallons of water located in the facility. I think the government and design team put a lot of thought into fire safety."

The original Bay Street straw market, which succumbed to fire in 2001, did not feature a proper sprinkler system.  Not only does the new market have a sprinkler system, but according to Hall, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport even requested that Cavalier install an additional apparatus in the central area to further meet the code.  William Smith, a mechanical engineer with the ministry, said he had the opportunity to personally inspect the new straw market.
"It is adequately protected," he told Guardian Business.  "So hopefully as long as the alarms work properly and it's properly synchronized, it should be ready to go. It has been tested."

Looking at the downtown core as a whole, Smith pointed out that many of the buildings, in the past, have not fallen under building codes as they stand today. One of the challenges of the fire department, he said, is to develop a relationship with these businesses "so we can try to bring this problem to a conclusion".  In general, Smith said every new building or businesses that undergo renovations are expected to bring the site up to fire codes.  He felt insurance companies were also putting pressure on more businesses to install the right systems.

"I believe they are encouraging. Of course, there is room for improvement in every sphere. From what I understanding, insurance companies are starting to make it an enforcement."  Another problem with fire codes downtown is the fact there are different levels of occupancy. Some businesses require simply fire extinguishers, while others need a full sprinkler system.
Smith told Guardian Business it makes sense for more businesses to step up and invest in their safety, considering the close proximity of buildings in the downtown core.  He suggested that Bay Street could really use its own fire station, but in particular, more hydrants.

The latter have been incorporated into the new straw market, Hall from Cavalier pointed out.  "If you're outside the straw market, look to the right and you'll see them there," he said. "One of them was actually used for the recent fire."  Hall commended the government on its thoroughness in regards to fire safety.  "They will have security in there and fire prevention technology. The prevention is there and you'll have security around.  The government did a good job and worked very closely with us," he said.

Click here to read more at The Nassau Guardian

News date : 12/06/2011    Category : Business, Nassau Guardian Stories

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