On May 1, St. Paul Fire Chief Tim Butler presented a Community Service Award to the St. Paul Public Housing Agency (PHA) workers and another to Futrell Fire Consult & Design, Inc., (FFCDI) for their roles in a two decade long program to install fire sprinklers in all 16 of the agency’s high-rise apartment buildings.
Primary individuals responsible for the design and construction management of the new fire sprinkler protection were Maple Grove residents Scott Futrell and Phil Awker with Futrell fire Consult & Design, Inc. Futrell is the president and owner of the company and Awker is the design director. Both are also active participants in the fire protection industry on local, state and national committees, commissions, task forces, focus groups and organizations.
The Minnesota State Building Code has mandated sprinklers in new high-rise buildings since 1972, but the requirement was not retroactive. Although sprinklers weren’t required in the PHA high-rise buildings when they were built; in 1991 PHA began to voluntarily retrofit the buildings with automatic fire sprinklers, according to the fire department.
Fires in residential occupancies are dangerous for both occupants and firefighters and labor-intensive to fight, particularly in high-rise buildings. Sprinklers reduce property damage seventy-one percent and provide occupants an 80 percent greater chance to survive a fire than with smoke detectors alone, again according to the fire department.
People may be more fire-safe in a public housing facility, school, office building or retail store than they are in their own home if the residence is unsprinklered. Two-thirds of the fire deaths in Minnesota occur in one- and two-family dwellings according to the Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Office.
In all, Futrell Fire Consult & Design, Inc. assisted SPHA with 13 of the 16 buildings, comprised of over 2,500 residential units providing fire and life safety expertise to the satisfaction of the St. Paul Fire Department. Similar efforts were performed by FFCDI for the recently completed Cedar Riverside Plaza Renovation project, involving the retrofit of almost 1,200 residential units in six buildings over a much shorter time frame.
Futrell Fire Consult & Design, Inc. is a fire protection consulting and engineering firm and small business established in 1989 and located in Osseo.