The 'Negligible' Building Safety Benefit of Helipads

In the second part of a series looking at codes in L.A. that require tall buildings to have flat roofs for helicopter landing, Curbed LA discusses a new building that has been exempted from the code and whether more are likely to follow.

Fire and life safety engineer Nate Wittasek argues that helipads offer a "negligible" benefit to building safety.

"'From an engineering point of view, the helipad isn't the best use of money,' believes Wittasek, a former firefighter who also serves on the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a Chicago-based group that studies the planning and design of buildings. 'You're spending all this money and infrastructure on something that is rarely used. What if you put the money towards something that was more beneficial?'

Wittasek is part of a team that created a modern fire safety system for the Red Building, the first major building exempted from Los Angeles County's helipad requirement, according to Deputy Chief David R. Richardson at the County of Los Angeles Fire Department. 'They proposed a [fire safety] system that was better than what was originally supposed to go in,' says Richardson. The building will open next year."

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