The NH State Fire Marshal, through its investigator, Rob Anstey, submitted this letter and prefiled testimony to the NH Site Evaluation Committee. In both documents, Mr. Anstey states that the Groton Wind energy facility, a 48 MW project constructed and operated by Iberdrola Renewables, has failed to comply with the requirements of its State permit. Mr. Anstey also states that Iberdrola's project manager (Edward Cherian) made false statements to the Committee regarding the Fire Marshal's requirements for the project. The Committee relied the misinformation in making its decision to approve the project.
Fire Marshal Letter
Mr. Michael Iacopino
Brennan, Caron, Lenehan & Iacopino
85 Brook Street
Manchester, NH 03104
RE: Groton Wind, LLC
Dear Mr. Iacopino,
On October 17, 2010, a letter was submitted by the State Fire Marshal to the Site Evaluation Committee regarding Groton Wind, LLC. That letter referenced the requirements of RSA 155-A:7, which states that when a municipality does not have a building inspector that the State Fire Marshal has the authority to enforce the State building Code in that municipality. The October 17th letter indicated that the State Fire Marshal was in fact going to invoke the authority and act as the building official for this project. In addition, the State Fire marshal is charged with insuring that the State Fire Code is enforced throughout the state.
The state fire and building codes require that plans be submitted to the authority having jurisdiction, which in this case is the state fire marshal, for review prior to the commencement of construction. The purpose of the plan submittal is so that the plans can be reviewed to insure compliance with applicable codes. At the start of this project the fire marshal’s office was in contact with a representative of Iberdrola Renewables. Investigators from this office did visit the Lempster Wind Farm and a facility under construction in New York State. However, Iberdrola did not submit any plans for review.
Fire safety is addressed on pages 73-74 of the Decision Granting Certificate of Site and Facility With Conditions. On page 74 Mr. Edward Cherian, project manager testified that the State Fire marshal’s office had refined its position on fire suppression and now “requires only compliance with the [intent of the codes not the actual specifications].” Mr. Cherian’s statement is not true. Our visits to the other Iberdrola sites revealed that a water based fire suppression system, especially in northern New Hampshire, or a total flooding gaseous system would be unreasonable. For that reason the State Fire Marshal mandated an automatic fire suppression system that would be installed to cover the individual hazard areas such as the bearing oil and transformers.
On April 24, 2013 at your invitation I attended a meeting in Groton regarding the wind project. Until that meeting, the last correspondence that we had with Iberdrola was via email on April 5, 2011. In that email, in addition to the normally required structural, site, fire protection plans etc., review or any in process inspectors.
NFPA 1, 2009 edition, 126.96.36.199.4 states: “When fire department access roads cannot be installed due to locations on property, topography, waterways, nonnegotiable grades, or other similar conditions, the AHJ shall be authorized to require additional fire protection features.”
NFPA 850, 2010 edition also requires a fire protection design. Section 10-5-3-5-1 addresses fire protection in the nacelles. The State Fire Marshal, as the authority having jurisdiction should have been involved in the fire protection design discussion at a very early stage.
Since the April 24, 2013 meeting Iberdrola has submitted a site plan and plans for the O and M building. Plans for the towers and fire suppression have not been submitted for review. The plans for the O and M building were reviewed by this office. Comments on the plans were sent to the sub-contractor that erected the structure and Iberdrola on 7-07-13. We have not received any reply to those comments.
Iberdrola did not submit plans for review prior to or during construction of the project. Iberdrola did not schedule any inspection during the construction of the project. Certificates of Occupancy as required by the State Building Code have not been issued for any of the structures on the site. This project is still considered an active construction site. Given the fact that the safety of the public cannot be insured due to Ibedrola’s failure to comply with the NH State Fire Code and the NH State Building Code the State Fire Marshal is strongly considering issuing a stop work order on the site. This would cease all operations until compliance with the applicable codes has been satisfied and verified by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Iberdrola has not complied with requirements of the Decision Granting Certificate of Site and Facility With Conditions and the State Fire Marshal would recommend that the Site Evaluation Committee mandate that all operation on the site cease until all safety concerns, plans reviews and required inspections have been completed and approved.
Please contact me via email at Ronald.firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 603-223-4289.
Investigator Ron Anstey CBO, CFI
Section Chief, Plans Review and Engineering
Bureau of Building Construction and Safety