Fire Protection Safeguards Are a Key Focus of New Cold Storage Facility

Two years after a fire destroyed its old complex, Dick Cold Storage decided to build a new facility in Columbus, Ohio. Designed by Tippmann Innovation, the building offers the most up-to-date technology, as well as additional fire protection safeguards. Photo: Ryan Leasure

When the executive leadership at Dick Cold Storage decided to build a brand-new facility, the company made certain that the new structure would have increased fire protection — especially with its roofing system.

Dick Cold Storage opened a new facility in June, less than two years after a fire completely destroyed its previous facility in Columbus, Ohio. The new building, designed by Tippmann Innovation, offers the best equipment and most up-to-date technology for cold storage facilities. There are also additional fire protection safeguards, such as fire access doors, horns and strobes, additional pull stations at doors, linear heat detection in freezers and automatic smoke vents.

The roof of the building includes 18 BILCO automatic smoke vents that allow firefighters to bring a fire under control. The vents allow for the escape of smoke, heat, and gasses in a burning building. The Dick Cold Storage building where the 2016 fire occurred was not equipped with automatic smoke vent protection.

“Two of the biggest challenges we face in fighting any fire are heat and smoke,’’ says Steve Martin, Battalion Chief for the Columbus Fire Department. “The heat of the fire radiates on everything surrounding it, causing the flames to spread and causing rapid degradation of structural elements.”

A Ferocious Blaze

More than 400 firefighters battled the fire at Dick Cold Storage, which broke out at approximately 9 p.m. on a Friday. No one was hurt in the fire, but residents in the neighborhood evacuated the area for fear they would be exposed to chemicals used to refrigerate food in the warehouse. The cause of the fire was not determined.

“At that time, you just feel completely lost,’’ Don Dick, the company President, says about his thoughts as he watched the blaze roar through the building where his family had done business for nearly a century. “You have no idea what will happen to your business.”

The building is topped with a single-ply roofing system featuring 45-mil and 60-mil TPO. Photo: Ryan Leasure

Because the building lacked smoke vents, firefighters were stymied. Martin said the smoke impeded visibility, made it difficult to assess damage to the structure and find the origin of the fire. Even with tanks of fresh air on their backs, the brave Columbus firefighters could do little more than watch the blaze burn itself out. The fire was contained within 18 hours but had not been completely extinguished for days.

“Buildings that do not lend themselves to ventilation, such as cold storage buildings, are especially dangerous to firefighters. If there is no known life-safety issue, firefighters will retreat to a defensive position and fight the fire from outside the building instead of going inside,’’ Martin notes.

The fire at Dick Cold Storage would not have been prevented with smoke vents, but the devastating property loss could have been minimized. Firefighters may have been able to aggressively attack the blaze, but because of the lack of visibility and uncertainty of the structural damage within the building envelope, Martin and his crew had no other alternative other than to wait for the fire to die.

A Better Approach

Dick Cold Storage executives made sure to include smoke vents in its new building. Manufactured by The BILCO Company, the custom-made vents measure 7 feet by 18 feet and include a quad leaf design. Tippman worked with Spohn Associates to procure the vents. The size of a building, among other factors, determines the number and size of vents required for a building. The vented space must comply with fire codes.

The roof of the building is equipped with 18 BILCO automatic smoke vents that allow smoke, heat, and gasses to escape from a burning building. Photo: Ryan Leasure

Tippmann worked with Spohn Associates, The BILCO Company’s Indiana based sales representative, to determine the number of vents used for the new building.The vents include a Thermolatch II positive hold/release mechanism designed to ensure reliable operation when a fire occurs. It also automatically releases vent covers upon the melting of a 165°F (74°C) fusible link. Gas spring operators are designed to open the covers against snow and wind loads and include integral dampers to ensure that the covers open at a controlled rate of speed.

“Vents will allow for the removal of heat and smoke will potentially slow the spread of fire,’’ Martin says. “They will also permit firefighters to see and enter the building, to possibly extinguish the fire early, preventing the entire building from becoming a loss.”

Roofing Solutions for Cold Storage Buildings

Like the rest of the materials used in building a cold storage facility, architects need to choose roofing components carefully. The thermal properties and unique usage of cold storage buildings require extra attention to detail in choosing the construction materials.

One of the most critical is constructing vapor-tight and energy efficient roof systems. Tippmann used a single-ply roofing system with 45-mil and 60-mil TPO, which serve as excellent vapor barriers. Single-ply systems also minimize air leaks. Those leaks can lead to thermal loss and excess moisture.

Tippman also paid extra attention to the vapor barriers, which are used to prevent moisture from damaging the fabric of the building. It’s also incumbent on roofing contractors to choose the proper insulation to maximize energy efficiency.

When fire engulfed the facility, firefighters could do little more than watch the blaze burn itself out. The fire was contained within 18 hours was not completely extinguished for days. Photo: Walker Evans, Columbus Underground

Improperly installed or inefficient roofing materials could lead to disastrous consequences for cold storage buildings. Vapor leaks and excess moisture could create bacterial growth. Other side effects could include structural damage from ice buildup on walls and slabs, higher utility costs, safety issues for workers and equipment that may require more maintenance or not reach its expected lifespan.

Tippman Innovation served as the architect, general contractor and roofing contractor for the project. “Tippmann Innovation’s experience and reputation in cold storage building is well-known and respected,’’ Don Dick notes. “After touring one of Tippman’s newly-completed projects, we were very impressed with the company’s commitment to quality, design, and technology. We’re confident that our new facility will be at the cutting edge of cold storage innovation.”

State-of-the-Art Facility

The new facility for Dick Cold Storage incorporates the latest in cold storage technology. The ceilings are 50-feet clear, creating six million cubic square feet of storage space. There are 15,000 pallet positions and seven multi-temperature storage rooms.

Cold storage facilities are used for keeping food products and other perishables for distribution to supermarkets and other retail outlets that sell to consumers. Dick Cold Storage’s Columbus location serves customers in a 550-mile radius, covering a geographic area that reaches Wisconsin, Alabama and New York and a population of more than 138 million people.

The new facility includes LED lighting, frozen, cooler and dry storage, and the most energy-efficient refrigeration equipment. “We want to be able to move product extremely fast,’’ Don Dick says. “We’re very conscientious of food safety and storing product, so we try to do everything the right way.”

Dick Cold Storage made a huge financial investment in its new facility, and Tippmann Innovation paid tremendous attention to all of the construction materials, especially the roofing. With a new building that can better withstand the potential of a catastrophic total product and facility loss that can be caused by fire, the business heads into its second century with new goals and new vitality.

“When you have time to think, you realize you just gotta get up and running and get back to what you are doing,’’ Don Dick says. “You have to be as efficient as you can. We thought it was dead, but you can’t think that way. You have to think what we are going to do from this day forward.”

FlashCo Acquires All Fab, LLC, Creator of the Easy Flapper

FlashCo has announced the acquisition of All Fab, maker of the patent pending Easy Flapper and a variety of TPO and PVC pipe and vent flashings. FlashCo is working with all of All Fab’s customers in their transition to FlashCo.

“We are excited to add All Fab products to our Northwest and nationwide operations,” says FlashCo President, Greg Morrow. “We have known Roger and Melissa Allestad for many years and we have respect for their designs and ability to develop parts.”

All Fab began operations in 2011, starting in a basement shop and growing to over 15 products including cones, breather vents, scuppers and corners. In 2015, All Fab product designer Roger Allestad developed the Easy Flapper to solve a HVAC issue on flat roofs. The Easy Flapper is an exhaust vent for commercial and residential roofs that prevents backdrafts and similar issues for dryers, bathrooms and kitchen hoods. The Easy Flapper offers installation and maintenance ease, and allows simple application designs. In addition, the Easy Flapper has patents pending.

“Melissa and I are excited to have this opportunity with FlashCo,” says Mr. Allestad. “I will
be returning full-time to Loberg Roofing and it gives me the chance to do what I enjoy, developing new products. It has been a blast building a local accessories company. FlashCo has acquired All Fab LLC, but FlashCo has the national reach to develop and grow the market, especially for the Easy Flapper. FlashCo is the right company to take it forward.”

Melissa Allestad has been a driver in developing a loyal customer base for All Fab in the Northwest. Ms. Allestad will be working closely with FlashCo Regional Sales Manager, Rick Morrow and his team to help customers transition to FlashCo. Over the next several weeks FlashCo and all Fab will be visiting customers together.

“It’s a natural fit,” says Mr. Morrow. “Both companies are dedicated to saving the contractor time and All Fab, just like FlashCo, has focused on customer satisfaction. We are
confident that All Fab’s customers will appreciate FlashCo’s service level and capabilities with our Washington plant, and the ability to deliver most orders is one to three days.”

“For us it’s a little bittersweet,” says Mr Allestad. “We have a hardworking team and we enjoyed growing the company, but the opportunity with Loberg is really too good to pass up. We are fortunate to be able to transition All Fab to FlashCo who can take the products to the next level. Plus, we will continue to consult with FlashCo on product development.”

The full transition of All Fab customers to FlashCo will be completed by the end of May.

A Bermuda-style Roof Composed of Aluminum Includes Intricate Hips, Ridges, Vents and Gutters

Sometimes the most interesting roofing jobs don’t start out as planned. That was the case for Iain Fergusson, owner of Highland Roofing Co., Wilmington, N.C., when he bid on an asphalt shingle reroof for an 11,000-square-foot ranch-style home located along a coastal creek in Wilmington.

Initially bid as an asphalt-shingle reroof, this 11,000-square-foot ranch-style home located along a coastal creek in Wilmington, N.C., features an aluminum Bermuda-style roof. PHOTO: Chris Fisher

Initially bid as an asphalt-shingle reroof, this 11,000-square-foot ranch-style home located along a coastal creek in Wilmington, N.C., features an aluminum Bermuda-style roof. PHOTO: Chris Fisher

After he submitted his bid, the architect, Michael Kersting of Michael Ross Kersting Architecture, Wilmington, asked for an option for standing-seam metal roofing, which is the specialty with which Fergusson established Highland Roofing in October 2005. Although Fergusson was confident about his crew’s ability to install an exceptional metal roof, he became a little nervous when the next request came from the architect.

“We were asked to price out an option for Bermuda-style metal roofing,” he recalls. “Of course I knew what a Bermuda roof was but I had no experience with it; you don’t get much opportunity to do that here.” However, Fergusson put the price together and won the job.

On the island of Bermuda, roofs are constructed of rectangular slabs of local limestone that are mortared together in a stepped pattern over a hip roof frame. The distinctive beauty of these roofs has begun to enter the U.S. though traditional stick-frame housing doesn’t lend itself to heavy limestone. The Wilmington residence consists of a wood-framed roof and brick veneer walls that would not support the weight of limestone, so Kersting opted for metal—specifically aluminum, ensuring the roof would be fully warranted in the coastal environment.

Once the team began moving forward with the Bermuda-style roof, a final set of plans made Fergusson even more anxious. “The plans had all kinds of details that came out of left field—built-in gutters and EPDM sections of the roof,” he says. “The big curve was that the architect wanted to make a feature out of the hips and ridges, because traditional Bermuda-style roofing is wrapped seamlessly around the hips and looks really neat and clean. Kersting knew that it wouldn’t be possible with sheet metal; it would have to be cut and mitered on the corners, so he had the idea of putting raised 2 by 4s on all the hips and ridges and having us wrap that.”

These details are what make this home’s roof impressive and where most of the work came in for Fergusson, who acted as project manager, and his team, which consisted of Roofing Superintendent Richard Hill, Sheetmetal Fabricator Michael Mai and a four-man install crew led by Foreman Marvin Mungia. After considering different panel sizes to ensure oil canning would be avoided, Kersting and Fergusson settled on 0.032 aluminum in 12-inch panels, and Fergusson’s crew was ready to put its skills to the test.

The architect wanted to make a feature out of the hips and ridges; traditional Bermuda-style roofing is wrapped seamlessly around the hips.

The architect wanted to make a feature out of the hips and ridges; traditional Bermuda-style roofing is wrapped seamlessly around the hips.

PROFILES IN COMMUNICATION

Although Fergusson established Highland Roofing in 2005 with a focus only on residential metal roofing, he expanded into all types of steep-slope products within the first couple years. In 2009, Fergusson began moving into the commercial roofing market; today, 70 percent of his revenues are commercial. In the residential sector he has a good mix of reroofing and custom new construction. It’s the custom side that Fergusson takes most pleasure in. “I really enjoy custom residential so much because it’s challenging and so different and it’s generally the most aesthetically appealing project we get to do,” he says.

Because of the firm’s focus on custom work, Fergusson’s crew already was proficient in good communication with each other. But the complexities of the Wilmington job would put Fergusson in direct communication with Kersting, which is unusual. “A lot of times the architect is insulated from the roofing contractor by the GC on the job,” Fergusson explains. “Communicating directly with the architect was a good thing. We could explain which of his ideas would and wouldn’t work.” In addition, Fergusson brought roofing samples to Kersting’s office where they were tweaked before 1-square mockups were tested onsite to see how the installation would be completed along the hip.

Photos: Chris Fisher, unless otherwise noted

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