Hopefully, the firefighters of Station 29 will never have to use their familiarity with new high-rise buildings across Tysons. But just in case, the crew has been spending the last few weeks exploring the unfinished interiors of Tysons’ tallest structures.
Captain David Bentley from Station 29 said it’s useful for firefighters to take a look inside the buildings before the drywall and the finishing touches are added to see how the buildings are structured and to understand the layout.
“If there’s an emergency, when it’s finished or during construction, this way it will be easier for us to get to patients,” said Bentley. “We need to know how the floors are made, what the ceiling looks like, and what’s between the drywall.”
At The Boro, for example, Bentley said they’re using aluminum studs in the walls while many smaller construction projects use wood. While wood burns when exposed to direct flame, or can smolder and fail over time, Bentley said aluminum studs fail quicker because they start to warp when exposed to intense heat. Bentley said information like that helps firefighters understand how much time they have to continue working to extinguish a fire safely or rescue people from the building.
One of the most interesting buildings Bentley said they visited was the new 31-story Capital One tower, the tallest building in the greater Washington area.
“It’s an absolutely amazing building,” said Bentley. “The sheer number of people working there, elevators, and security, it’s all absolutely amazing… Some of these bigger [buildings have fire pumps that run up to the top floor, and the size and amount of these pumps are quite large and they have to have a backup in case they fail. They have five massive diesel generators the size of cruise ship engines to keep the place running.”
One of the unique features of the new Capital One building is a fire suppression device that rolls over the escalators like a conveyer belt and seals them off, which both stops the fire from spreading to higher floors but also cuts off a route of ingress or egress for those needing to get to or away from the fire.
“I’ve never seen that before,” said Bentley. “It would definitely cut off a route, whether we need to go up or down, but it’s meant to stop vertical fire spreads. There are plenty of other exits in that building and I’m sure security has pre-plans, but that’s definitely a unique challenge.”
Bentley said the sheer verticality of these buildings presents a challenge as well. While Bentley says firefighters can respond to most emergencies in downtown Tysons in five minutes, getting the right equipment to the right floor can take twice as long. Once inside, maneuvering around the building in an emergency situation can be difficult as well, as evidenced by the dramatic rescue via construction crane last month.
“We practice a lot,” said Bentley. “We have drills once a week on high-rise operations. We assign people on different apparatus to different tasks. Paramedics will grab one length of hose to take to the fire floor. The firefighter on the right side of the engine will grab another section of hose. I’ll grab the officer’s bag, which has tools to hook into pipes. This way we can take any hose down any hallway to get to the fire.”
Bentley says the crew of Station 29 visited the Boro (8301 Greensboro Drive) and the Capital One building (1600 Capital One Blvd) and older buildings like Kaiser Permanente’s Tysons Corner Medical Facility (8008 Westpark Drive) and Rotunda Apartments (8352 Greensboro Drive).
Bentley said the firefighters also travelled to low rise buildings, like Cava and Honeygrow in Pike 7 Plaza, to familiarize crews with the new small developments he says are popping up all over.
Photos via Twitter
Today: Coffee With a Cop — “Fairfax County Police and other law enforcement agencies will participate in National Coffee With a Cop Day on Wednesday, Oct. 3… Officers from the McLean District Station will be participating in National Coffee with a Cop Day at Peet’s, 7516A Leesburg Pike, Falls Church (Tysons Station) from 9 a.m.-11 a.m.” [Patch]
Watch Out for Deer — “Fall is here and white-tailed deer are on the move. Fall is the breeding season for deer and you can expect to see more of them on the roads as they search for mates. Deer are unpredictable and crashes with them are a safety concern.” [FCPD]
Mars Sells Drinks Biz — McLean-based Mars Inc., the maker of M&Ms, has sold its drinks business, which includes Flavia coffee, to the Italian coffee company Lavazza. [WBJ]
Tysons Firms on Coolest Cos. List — Per the FCEDA E-bird: “DC Inno compiled a list of D.C.’s ‘Coolest Companies,’ based on company culture and factors ranging from pet-friendliness to in-house happy hour availability. Level Access of Tysons Corner was rated among the five ‘All Around Coolest’ companies… Gabriel Marketing of Tysons Corner emerged tops in the ‘Best D.C. Tech Advocate’ category.” [DC Inno]
Reminder: Emergency Test Today — Expect your phone to buzz and beep just after 2:15 p.m. as part of a nationwide federal emergency alert test. [Fairfax County Emergency, Tysons Reporter]
Fairfax County residents, along with the rest of the country, will be getting an emergency alert on their phone a week for today, but it’s just a test.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will be conducting a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) at 2:18 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3. The so-called “presidential alert” test, of a system intended for use during national emergencies, was postponed to next week due to the flooding caused by Hurricane Florence.
On social media today, Fairfax County posted a reminded about the wireless alert test and that it shouldn’t be confused with the county’s Fairfax Alerts. Like WEA, Fairfax sends out public safety alerts about severe weather, though the county’s alerts also include traffic alerts and county government closures.
📱Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) test by @fema next Wednesday, Oct. 3, around 2:18 p.m. Your phone will make a loud sound and vibrate. But what's the difference between a WEA Alert and a Fairfax Alert? Check it out 👇👇 cc: @FairfaxCountyPD @ffxfirerescue @ReadyFairfax pic.twitter.com/jvO1HoNDGh
— Fairfax County Government 🇺🇸 (@fairfaxcounty) September 26, 2018
More on the test:
Don’t be surprised when your phone gives off a loud buzz next Weds. 10/3 at 2:18 pm! FEMA is testing the nation's Wireless Emergency Alerts system. It’s only a test, no cause for alarm. pic.twitter.com/n4IC7Ro0so
— City of Falls Church (@FallsChurchGov) September 26, 2018