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Logan firefighters keep check on landmarks

Many historic buildings have additional fire protection already

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Posted: Saturday, December 18, 2010 1:15 am

Historic buildings present a unique challenge for firefighting, and crews in Cache Valley say they try to stay a step ahead of blazes like the one that destroyed the Provo Tabernacle early Friday morning.

The Logan fire department has identified Utah State University's Old Main and the Logan LDS Temple and Tabernacle as unique structures that require additional planning and redundant fire protection systems.

Assistant Fire Chief Brady Hansen says the buildings are inspected annually, and that shift captains have studied every corner of the buildings to learn how best to fight fires in them.

"Our chiefs and our captains will tour these places," said Hansen. "They go and they learn where the closest fire hydrant is, where the ladder truck access is, they study the fire department connection for the sprinkler system - all those things."

The Logan Tabernacle was suspected to be particularly vulnerable to fire damage by former Fire Chief Mark Meaker because it had zero sprinkler protection.

"Our tabernacle is one of the most iconic buildings both to the community and to the church in this area," said Hansen. "And it was entirely unsprinklered."

Meaker wrote church officials in late 2007 saying firefighters would have little chance to save the building if a fire broke out there. The church responded and a year later the structure was retrofitted with a sprinkler system and advanced fire protection with heat and smoke detectors. The sprinkler system covers the attic which was identified as the weakest link in the chain for fire prevention, Hansen said.

Firefighters regularly train at the tabernacle, learning how and where to interface their apparatus with the tabernacle's fire protection systems.

For its age, it is a remarkably well-protected building, Hansen added.

"We've done everything in our power to make sure our tabernacle is as prepared as it can be," he said. "Fire sprinklers make a tremendous difference."

The temple and Old Main are sprinkler-equipped buildings.

Earlier this month a small fire threatened The Book Table in downtown Logan. Fire officials say a single sprinkler head that was activated in the blaze likely saved the entire building and possibly neighboring buildings from threat.

Hansen says his department constantly works to identify key buildings around the city that would benefit from fire sprinkler systems.



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