Called Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, Fifteenth Day, Fourth Month 2018:
Brick Meeting House Safe Egress/Fire Escape
Opening Silent Worship
Molly Brian, Clerk of the Meeting, gathered together the meeting for worship with attention to business at 11:30 a.m. with a brief period of silence. She introduced the purpose of this meeting as limited to discussion of egress for the brick meeting house.
27 attended: Gwen Beegle, Molly Brian, Lorraine Claggett, Larny Claggett, Susan Claggett, Bob Day, Susan Dickinson, Marsie Hawkinson, Bill Lane, Marie Leonard, Connie Lewis, Priscilla Morris, Beth Mufson, Sumner Parker, Dee Rein, Nancy Robbins, Adrienne Rudge, Bill Schauer, John Schreiner, Robert Shattuck, Candace Shattuck, Ben Tilghman, Bob Wack, Joan Whitmore, Winslow Womack, Ralph Young, Harvey Zendt
Topic: Brick Meeting House Safe Egress/Fire Escape
Property and Grounds committee presentation:
Consideration of the fire escape stairway on the back of the brick meeting house has evolved. A fire marshal visit indicated what is and is not allowed per building codes. He was very helpful. Considered were $15-30,000 in renovations to make the entire structure compliant with fire code, regardless of how many people are using the second floor space. A visit to the trustees yielded the general idea that while the chances of an incident are infinitesimal, the consequences are extremely serious should it occur. The trustees indicated a willingness to fund egress improvement. Addressing the front stairway as well raises the potential cost to $40,000. P&G suggests the meeting advise them as to the intended use of the space upstairs before a renovation decision is made. That is the purpose of this meeting.
Discussion points included:
- The fire marshal's suggested that the window past which the fire escape passes be removed. A fire escape may not pass a window.
- A specific design is necessary to get approvals from all authorities involved and then contractor estimates.
- Once an historic building is altered it must meet code requirements. Anything over $5,000 requires permits. The historical society does not have to be involved.
- Numerous possibilities have been considered. A spiral staircase was ruled out because tread depths would make it so large as to be untoward.
- If we want a first day school upstairs, we have to look for solutions. As good Quakers we want younger people to be included to build our community. That determines what we do on this issue.
- As a vibrant meeting we need room for meeting space as well as first day school. The front stairs are steep and hard for some people to use, so renovation is appropriate. We don't want to lose that space.
- There are other places to put a first day school.
- We do have lots of property. Consideration of expansion complicates this discussion.
- Some wondered why first day school is not in the Common Room.
- Friends remembered their own life experiences with and without first day school over the years.
- Trustees prefer to maintain usable space that is accessible and safe as well as being as useful as possible. The trust corporation will pay for whatever is required to maintain this space.
- Alternative solutions include just refurbishing and waiting for the city to come to us and require renovation.
- The space is a financial asset at an estimated value $240,000 (approximately 1200 square feet at $200/sf). Investing in a solution is a better strategy than mothballing the space.
- The armory with the same problem installed a fireproof elevator, increasing egress.
- An elevator would have to be self-contained and exterior to the building. One investigated cost $54,000.
- As stewards of an historic building, rather than change the brick meeting house, we should make the Common Room newer by enlarging it.
- Trustees supported making this building completely usable. Their fund is for maintenance not to be used for building new spaces, which would have to be done at the expense of Third Haven Monthly Meeting.
The sense of the Meeting is a desire to continue to use the second floor space as well as do the right thing by making it safe and accessible to all. Those present indicated unity.
Therefore Property and Grounds is asked to find solutions. Property and Grounds is happy to accomplish that task with the understanding that they make no aesthetic decisions and will be back to discuss such considerations in the future.
- Improvement of both ends of the building access was requested.
- Regular use of the second floor for meetings would be most beneficial.
- Doing nothing is an option. Doing just the fire escape is another. Doing the front access is a third.
- We need to consider both the young and the old, allowing access for all. That should be a priority.
- How much longer will we expose our children to this risk upstairs?
- Maybe the Brick Meeting House and the Common Room could be linked together to accomplish both egress and space considerations.
- As Chestnut Hill meeting did, we may raise money for improvements.
- The trustees have expressed an interest in us moving forward on both ends of the building.
- At the moment we all need to be aware of the situation, including having fire drills.
- Positive comments honored all views expressed today.
- Currently suggested were fire drills and improvement of the current wooden fire escape by removing wood splinters and adding bottom stairs.
- Perhaps in the future we will have preschool here. Consider our future.
- Creative thinking was encouraged.
- Technical assistance will be sought by P&G.
Property and Grounds are asked to develop specifics to move ahead for safety and accessibility for all ages.
John Schreiner will work on the steps and spear-head fire drill plans.
The meeting closed with silent worship at 12:20 pm.
D. Rein, Recording Clerk