PF&R to require construction site security 24/7

A massive apartment fire at a construction building project at Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Monroe Street August 8, 2013.
A massive apartment fire at a construction building project at Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Monroe Street August 8, 2013.

After a fire took down a six-story apartment block last August, Portland Fire & Rescue are stepping up measures to prevent arson.

At construction projects more than four stories high, officials now require construction companies to provide round-the-clock security.

The fire at Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Monroe Street August 8, 2013 was caused by arson, investigators believe.
“Had we had advanced notice we may have been able to keep that fire in check and prevent the entire structure from being consumed,” said Portland Fire spokesperson Tommy Schroeder.

It took 1.5 million gallons of water and 135 firefighters to fully extinguish it, and although no lives were lost, many people lost everything.

Schroeder said because of the many flammable materials in the Monroe apartment building, it caught fire quickly. Many other buildings in similar states of construction have a similarly flammable materials on site.

“The biggest danger with these buildings is not only because they’re four-to-five stories tall but during the framing portion of the construction phase they’re completely exposed,” he said.

But, the costs for construction companies will increase – to the tune of $10,000 per month.

Pavillion Construction President Brian Gerritz said the new regulation is a good preventative measure, but consumers will ultimately feel the company’s added expense.
“I don’t believe that PF&R is shifting the burden of prevention solely upon developers and turning their backs,” said Schroeder.

“Is this overkill? I don’t believe that it is overkill,” he said.

“We’re requiring it because in the end we’ll save dollars for not only the project itself but as in the case of the MLK Fire we had a large five-alarm fire that also affected the structure next store.”

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