USAFP News

USAFP finishes what it started at the Tribune Tower

USAFP News
December 6, 2012 - By Jan. 1, United States Alliance Fire Protection (USAFP) will have completed its contract with Chicago's Tribune Tower to finish retrofitting the building.

In 2004, Alliance Fire Protection (AFP) began partial installation of wet sprinkler systems on a dozen floors as part of the Tribune Co.'s effort to renovate and lease its unused space. Over the next several years, AFP shifted in concert with the renovations, completing installations in portions of 12 floors. Eventually, the Tribune Co. wanted the rest of the space "sprinklered" and had USAFP finish what it started.

Any opportunity to improve upon the safety of an 87-year-old Chicago landmark is a welcomed one, but it also bears the weight of enormous responsibility.

According to Rodney Turner, USAFP's executive vice president of sales, several floors of the historic building had ornate ceilings that required the organization's skilled tradesmen to conceal their work while protecting the aesthetics of the original architecture.

USAFP worked closely with Epic Building Group, who ensured the wood paneling would remain unharmed and the plaster ceiling would be restored to their original conditions throughout the project.

The wood paneling and plaster ceilings wasn't the only challenge during the project. USAFP had to carefully orchestrate its work schedule, completing some of the job during off hours to minimize disruptions to businesses in the building. Considering the furniture that required covering the cutting and reattachment of ceiling pieces, and post-installation cleanup, it would have been a difficult feat to accomplish while the building was fully occupied.

"That was our selling point," Turner said. "By the time everyone arrived in the morning, they never knew we were there."

Including work done on the building's existing standpipes, risers and fire pumps, USAFP completed the project early and under budget, a feat that did not go unnoticed.

"The whole team did a great job orchestrating the project and getting it accomplished. It was a total team effort," Turner said.

In 1925, Robert McCormick wanted his tower to be "the most beautiful and eye-catching office building in the world." Most Chicago natives will tell you he succeeded. Now, they'll also tell you it's one of the safest.

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