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SFO's Superbay Hangar Requires $4 Million Emergency Repairs

Tuesday, April 19, 2016  
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A problem with the fire suppression system at San Francisco International Airport’s largest hangar that rendered the system unable to extinguish a blaze last year needs more than $4 million in emergency repairs.


The $4.3 million contract for emergency repairs to the fire suppression system is set to go before the Board of Supervisors for approval Tuesday.


The Superbay Hangar at SFO, which is one of four hangars in the U.S. that can house up to four 747 aircrafts, has been on round-the-clock fire watch since its automatic suppression system failed last December.


Airport officials plan to replace the entire system for an estimated $20 million but are repairing the emergency system in the meantime, according to a February letter from Airport Director John L. Martin to city officials.


Airport workers discovered that multiple leaks in an underground water pipe between the hangar and pump house had caused the system’s water pressure to drop a significant amount, rendering the system unable to pump the foam necessary to extinguish a fire.


The airport Fire Marshal has since put in place an interim plan to ensure that no fire breaks out in the hangar, which is right next to “one of our three fire stations,” said SFO spokesperson Doug Yakel.


According to Martin’s letter to the Airport Commission, which was also sent to the board, Mayor Ed Lee and City Controller Ben Rosenfield, $1.3 million of the contract with Pilot Construction Management Inc. will continue the fire watch through January 2017.


Another $500,000 is to repair the major leaks in the system — a project that was expected to be completed last month — and $450,000 to modify a fire pump control system at the SFO pump house, according to Martin.


A temporary portable pump station, foam and other equipment will cost $1 million, and $500,000 has been set aside for modifications to the hanger sprinkler system.


The hangar is under constant use by American Airlines and United-Continental Airlines for maintenance and safety checks, according to Martin.


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