Emergency Response Case Study

Early morning in June 2017, the lighting flickered at a downtown high-rise building. The emergency generator kicked in and the elevators all homed to the ground level. A “Red Alert” displayed on the fire panel; the fire alarm had been pulled on the 10th floor due to smoke billowing out of the women’s washroom. The building was evacuated, and the fire department arrived on site. The source of the smoke traced to the MCC (Motor Control Centre). The 2000 Amp breaker feeding the building tripped due to a critical failure. Tenants were sent home; this was an incredibly serious issue. In order to maintain any sense of functionality, the building needed to somehow bypass the damaged busbar and restore full power until the repairs could be complete.

In order to quickly and efficiently install a temporary power source, we were faced with coordinating a team of Electricians, Engineers, Technicians, and Operators to:

  • Source and deliver large electrical cables to site
  • Run the temporary electrical cables from basement to penthouse
  • Take all necessary safety measures including Lockout – Tagouts and Fire-proofing
  • Conduct building thermal scans and determine the quickest and most effective repair
  • Preform a full Emergency Generator overhaul once the temporary power source was installed and the building no longer required the Generator to run
  • Fully restore the fire panel and reset the 10th floor pull station
  • Perform an overview of the elevators and ensure proper functionality with no damage

Timeline

Monday

  • Lighting flickers
    • Emergency Generator starts
    • Elevators home to lobby
  • Fire panel reads “Red Alert”
    • Pull station activated on 10th floor
  • CFD (Calgary Fire Department) evacuates building
    • Source of smoke determined in mechanical room
    • Building deemed safe, yet tenants sent home for the remaining workday
  • Contractors determine busbar failure
    • Anticipated failure between eighth and tenth floors
  • Building running on emergency power
    • Operators taking 30-minute readings of Emergency Generator
    • Fuel on standby if required

Tuesday / Wednesday

  • Electrical cabling shipped to site to hook up temporary power
    • Cables ran from basement 2000 Amp breaker to mechanical room MCC via stairwell
    • Damaged busduct bypassed
  • Surrounding barriers erected to house cables and remove tripping or safety hazards
    • Hindering doors removed and replaced to permit cable pathway
    • Structures painted with fire-rated coating
    • Appropriate securing devices and signage put into place
  • Emergency Generator continuously monitored
    • 60-minute readings taken
    • Temperatures and fuel levels strictly monitored
  • Building power restored through cables
    • Thermal scan complete and intended every week thereafter while cables remain
    • Generator overhaul complete to ensure apt functionality

Total Time Taken: 72 hours

The entire process from the time the busbar failed to the time temporary power was fully installed and the building restored was only 72 hours. Crew members worked vigorously around the clock to cause as little inconvenience as possible to the tenants in a very short amount of time.

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