Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
As construction of the new Patton Junior High School at the old MacArthur Elementary School site progresses, Fort Leavenworth Fire and Emergency Services fire inspectors took firefighters and leaders on a walkthrough May 18 to familiarize them with the building.
“We’re pre-fire planning for when (the school is) completed, and we’re also pre-fire planning in case there’s an incident now during the construction phase. We’re getting a chance to see inside it as it’s being built to see where the weak points and fire hazards might be,” said Assistant Chief of Training Edgar Guerra. “Building construction is important because it tells us how long a certain space or structure can burn before it starts to fail. That’s what we’re really looking at.
“When we’re looking at construction material and how it’s built, we’re looking at the strength of it, the resistance to fire, how long it’ll last and survivability of occupants,” he said. “That’s something we do when we size up any building when it’s on fire. We’re also looking at utilities and how they’re set up.”
Fire Inspector Aaron Dennis said by viewing the building during construction, firefighters can see everything.
“We’re trying to get (the firefighters) familiar with current practices of construction, what the structure is built out of,” Dennis said. “We wanted them to see what they’re not able to see in a finished building, like layouts and what’s being reused, so when they show up here (in case of a fire later), they know there are steel studs and extra thick drywall.
“You’d have to look at the plans to see what each wall is rated at (for fire resistance),” he said. “It all depends on the usage. There are certain sections that are protected with fire partition walls that would, say, have a two-hour fire resistance because it’s built in a specific manner.”
As construction is completed and floor plans continue to be finalized, Fire Inspector Antonio Masisak said Fort Leavenworth Fire and Emergency Services make note of hookup points, the sprinkler system and fire hydrants throughout the school to plan for any emergencies.
The new Patton is set to open in August 2022.