Lessons Learned – Modular Building Fire
|Publication Date:||22 May 2000|
Description of Driving Event:
A fire occurred in a modular building, #T-046, at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field (Mountain View), California. The building was about three months old, purchased and assembled on site by American Modular Systems, Inc. The building was occupied by code OFX, Range Systems Branch. In the area that the fire occurred, research in microwave landing systems was being conducted.
The fire was first reported by a building janitorial worker, who noticed the fire at the rear of the structure at or near one of the four wall-mounted heat pumps. The alarm was received at the Moffett Field Fire Department at 0100 hrs. The first engine company arrived at 0103 hrs. and the fire reported extinguished at 0143 hrs.
Most of the fire damage occurred above the suspended ceiling with some heat and water damage below, and some damage throughout the building. Various test equipment and computers located on work benches were damaged. The building was subsequently closed.
The fire started at the mouth of one of the heat pump units located at the discharge duct connector. At the discharge flange of the heat pump there are electric resistance heating coils that operate under various conditions in which the unit is unable to produce sufficient heat. Six manufacturing deficiencies were discovered at these duct connectors.