The following message was posted on the Long Beach, NY website after a series of devastating events involving their boardwalk. Their choice to rebuild using Ipe highlights the city’s interest in preventing future fires by choosing superior Ipe wood.
As you may have heard, a devastating fire destroyed the newly rebuilt boardwalk and businesses in the New Jersey communities of Seaside Heights and Seaside Park. We know well the heartbreak involved with the destruction of our beloved boardwalk by Superstorm Sandy, and we can certainly empathize with the residents of those two Jersey shore towns in their loss. Our hearts go out to them. With that said, the City of Long Beach would like to reassure our residents that the same fate is not likely for our almost-complete, brand new boardwalk. It has been determined that damage caused by Superstorm Sandy to the electrical system of the Seaside Heights/Seaside Park boardwalk was responsible for starting the fire. Since the new Long Beach boardwalk was totally redesigned and rebuilt from the ground up, it has an entirely new electrical system. The old electrical system, which suffered severe damage from seawater flooding, was removed and replaced.
Additionally, the Seaside Heights/Seaside Park boardwalk, just like the old Long Beach boardwalk, was constructed of Southern Yellow Pine. A building material’s flammability is measured is by its flame spread rating, which, according to the Louisiana State Fire Marshal, is determined by: “how far and how fast flames spread across the surface of the test sample. In this test, a sample of the material 20 inches wide and 25 feet long, is installed as ceiling of a test chamber, and exposed to a gas flame at one end. The resulting flame spread rating (FSR) is expressed as a number on a continuous scale where inorganic reinforced cement board is 0 and red oak is 100. The scale is divided into three classes. The most commonly used flame-spread classifications are: Class I or A, with a 0-25 FSR; Class II or B with a 26-75 FSR; and Class III or C with a 76-200 FSR. – (webpage http://sfm.dps.louisiana.gov/doc_flamespread.html).” According to the American Wood Association, Southern Yellow Pine has a flame spread rating of 130-195. Compare that with Ipe, the sustainable sourced Brazilian Hardwood used to construct the decking of the new Long Beach boardwalk, which has a flame spread rating of 0 for the 10 minute FSR test and 5 for the 30 minute FSR test. This puts the Ipe decking on the new boardwalk in Class A or I. Simply put, it’s essentially non-combustible.
When we see the video of the Seaside Heights/Seaside Park boardwalk on fire and pictures of the aftermath, we know the pain that those folks must feel, especially because they had just finished rebuilding it from the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. This is why the City Council, and the hundreds of residents who came to the numerous public forums on rebuilding the boardwalk, and the thousands of people who responded to our online survey of what they wanted to see in the new boardwalk, insisted on not simply rebuilding what was originally there, but rebuilding stronger, smarter and safer. As unfortunate as the fire in Seaside Height/Seaside Park was, it is a pertinent reminder of why we must go the extra mile in how we rebuild and recover from Superstorm Sandy. Once again, our hearts go out to the victims of that terrible event, and we wish them the best on their recovery.