Devon Energy Corp. is doing what it can to make sure Oklahoma City's firefighters have the tools they need in case of a fire at the company's new downtown skyscraper.
The Oklahoma City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to accept a donation from Devon of about $11,000 worth of firefighting equipment for high-rise buildings.
Devon Tower, part of the Devon Energy Center, is the tallest building in Oklahoma by a large margin at 50 stories, and presents unique challenges for city firefighters.
The equipment will be stored almost halfway up the tower on the 23rd floor, making it easier for firefighters to respond to a blaze on the tower's top half.
“Any time we have a high-rise fire, it's so labor-intensive and involved just getting up to the fire floor and getting your folks in position,” Oklahoma City Fire Department Deputy Chief Marc Woodard said. “Once you get up there, the fire just has so much lead time on you.”
The need to be ready for a fire in a tall building was reinforced during a recent fire on the seventh floor of an eight-story apartment tower, Woodard said.
“The guys saw how labor-intensive and how exhausting it was. That really made a believer out of us,” Woodard said.
“If we get one of these, we're going to need all hands on deck to take care of it.”
Firefighters train for high-rise fires, with an emphasis on training the firefighters who work in and near downtown, Woodard said.
But the problems that could be presented in the Devon Tower stand out among other local buildings.
Department officials are finalizing what kinds of equipment to buy, but that will be done soon, Woodard said.
Officials said they hope the equipment is never put to use.
And that will probably be the case because of how much care Devon officials took to plan for fires and other emergencies in the building, Woodard said.
“I would imagine it's one of the safest buildings in Oklahoma,” Woodard said. “But we still could have something happen there, and we need to be prepared.”
The building is equipped with sprinklers and high-tech fire detection and suppression systems, and fire officials made regular visits to the tower while it was under construction to better understand what challenges and advantages they would have in case of an emergency.