First Interstate Tower fire
The First Interstate Tower fire was a high-rise fire that occurred on May 4, 1988 at the First Interstate Tower (now Aon Center) in Los Angeles, California. The fire destroyed five floors of the building, injured 40 people, and caused the death of a maintenance worker, when the elevator the worker was riding opened onto the burning 12th floor.
The fire was so severe because the building was not equipped with a sprinkler system, which was not required for office towers at the time construction was completed in 1973. A sprinkler system was 90% installed at the time of the fire, but the system was inoperative, awaiting the installation of water flow alarms. The fire was eventually contained at 2:19 AM, and caused $50 million in damages. Repair work took four months. Because of the fire, Los Angeles building codes were changed, requiring all high-rises to be equipped with fire sprinklers. This modified a 1974 ordinance that only required new buildings to contain fire sprinkler systems, grandfathering older buildings.
"Unusually good fireproofing"
According to the FEMA fire incident report on the subject, unusually good fireproofing of the structural steel holding up the building was a significant mitigating factor. Had the fireproofing been absent or inadequate, the structural steel could have exceeded its critical temperature above which it would have lost its ability to support the load above, which could have led to collapse of the structure. The efficacy of the fireproofing was documented both by FEMA and IFC. Fireproofing of structural steel in the US is tested to ASTM E119 Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials.
- Gregerson, John (1989-02-01). "How L.A.'s worst high-rise fire spread. (First Interstate Tower)". Building Design & Construction. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
- Emerson, Cole H. (1989-06-01). "Putting out the fire. (disaster contingency plan for high-rise fire at First Interstate Bank of California, Los Angeles)". Security Management. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
- Stremfel, Michael (1990-10-29). "Exorbitant cost of sprinklers puts almost 200 in violation of fire law. (Los Angeles; high rise office buildings; fire safety laws)". Los Angeles Business Journal. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
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