Safety Issues Top Capitol Renovation Needs

By New | Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, WY), October 17, 2013 | Go to article overview

Safety Issues Top Capitol Renovation Needs


New, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, WY)


Consultants report building lacks modern smoke and fire suppression systems What's next? A task force working on the Capitol renovation plans will meet today to discuss more of the consultants' reports. The State Building Commission is also expected to meet again in November to consider recommendations for how the state should move forward on the plans. By Trevor Brown CHEYENNE - A computer simulation showed smoke filling up most of the rotunda of the State Capitol in just about two minutes. A few minutes later, the majority of the building's top floors would be engulfed with potentially deadly fumes caused by a fire. "By five minutes, we think we would have casualties," said Suzanne Norton, a project coordinator with the state's Department of Administration and Information. The State Building Commission was shown the simulation Wednesday during an update of the design work on the proposed Capitol renovation. The computer model highlights what some say is the most convincing reason to move ahead with the renovation: the safety issues surrounding the Capitol. Officials say the 127-year- old building, which has not seen a substantial upgrade in decades, requires major upgrades to its electrical, wiring, heating and cooling systems. The initial design work on the renovation plans also found it does not meet modern fire and smoke suppression standards. Tom Whetstone, a consultant with HDR Architecture, said they worked with the risk-management firm Aon to develop models of how smoke would fill the building and how occupants would react to a fire. The simulations showed that a traffic jam of people trying to escape would build up at the stairways in the rotunda. Whetstone said this is concerning because the models showed a high concentration of smoke in this area. And he said smoke could become dangerously thick even before some occupants would have time to react and find a safe exit. However, if the Capitol were equipped with a modern smoke-evacuation system, the computer models showed that there would be far less smoke in the critical first 10 minutes of a fire and beyond. …

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