Wall Panels Substituted For Factory Roof Vents

Wall Panels Substituted For Factory Roof Vents

Smoke vents, made of plastic and installed as a substitute for some roof vents, can be seen at top of walls of a Janesville, Wis., factory. Insert shows spring-loaded, fusible link designed to release vent panels when heat exceeds 160 degrees.

Pop-out vents along the tops of walls were substituted for some of the 80 roof heat and smoke vents originally required by Wisconsin Industrial Commission standards for a factory building in Janesville, Wis.

When the Norwood Mills, which manufactures fake furs from synthetic fibers, rebuilt after a fire that destroyed 70 percent of its plant, fascia vents were installed along the tops of three walls of the 400 X 475-foot new structure. These vents are 2 feet, 7 inches high and 4 feet, 11 inches wide and run the entire lengths of three sides of the building, which has a builtup roof of class A materials over a metal deck. The entire factory is now protected by an automatic wet-pipe sprinkler system and a central station fire alarm system with heat detectors.

The fascia vents, made of Eastman Uvex plastic sheeting, were molded to add a decorative effect to the building exterior and give the appearance of translucent windows. Each vent panel is held in place by a spring-loaded fusible link so that panels will pop out when the temperature rises above 160 degrees. Chains on each side of the vent casement prevent a panel from falling to the ground and possibly injuring a fire fighter. The ventilation panels can not be removed from the outside except by forcible entry methods.

By substituting these fascia vents for some roof ventilation hatches with the approval of the Wisconsin Industrial Commission, an estimated savings of $3600 was effected in the construction of the $1.7 million building.

The fascia vents are at the top of 28-foot walls, which have a 15-foot, 9-inch belt of insulated metal above 10 feet of concrete block. Both the fascia vents and walls were designed by Arthur Lundh, a Janesville architect, who kept possible expansion of the building and fire protection in mind. If the building is enlarged, the concrete blocks can be knocked out to leave the metal section of a wall as a draft curtain. On the other hand, the metal can be removed so that the concrete blocks can be built up to form a fire wall for a building addition.

With fire safety in mind, the architect placed exits at 100-foot intervals around the perimeter of the building to speed evacuation of employees and provide access for fire fighters. Also, masonry and plaster walls were designed to limit the spread of fire.

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