Fire at Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel could lead to safety changes

You can never be “too” safe! Continuous improvements to hotel safety and fire protection systems is crucial to providing a safe environment for all occupants of your facility. Phoenix (CBS5), Christina Estes, calls our attention to the key components surrounding the recent  fire at Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel.



Fire Inspector Brian Scholl calls the Oct. 25 electrical room fire at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel a “once in a lifetime event” that now has the city looking at possible changes.

In an exclusive interview with CBS 5 News, Scholl said an electrical short caused an explosion that knocked out power to the 31-story building.

“The actual transformer that was part of the fire was fed to the generator,”he explained. “APS was not sure if the generator would feed power back into the electrical room so to be safe we had to shut off the generator.”

That cut power to the entire building, including the stairwells.

“What we had to do was get glow sticks and flashlights,” Scholl said. “And, with that many people evacuated and limited amount of light, it’s a testament to what the firefighters were able to do in those stairwells.”

Scholl said there was no design flaw, but believes the setup warrants a closer look in light of what happened.

“If this could ever happen again, is there something we should look at? Should we add battery-powered emergency lights in the stairwells?” he asked. “That’s something the city is looking at right now.”

Losing total power wasn’t the only challenge. The explosion also destroyed the fire pump controller.

“The fire pump is what gives you pressure to all the top floors of a high-rise for the sprinkler system,” Scholl said. “Without that fire pump you can get a sprinkler to only about the fourth, maybe the fifth floor and that’s why we were so concerned about that.”

Replacing that controller took six days. The hotel remained reopened to guests after those repairs were completed.

Before it opened its doors again, Scholl says they noted areas to improve, including better signage about the sprinkler systems and shut-off valves and training firefighters on how to use elevator emergency panels.

With the upcoming Super Bowl, he says they accelerated their inspections for all hotels, bars and restaurants to ensure they are all in compliance.


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