Looking back: Johnson Controls marks 40th anniversary of historic MGM Grand Hotel project as revelations emerge on Grenfell disaster

Published by Rhys Taylor-Brown on March 6th 2021, 11:11am

After 40 years, leading fire, HVAC and security equipment specialist Johnson Controls revisits one of its most historic projects: the installation of a computer-controlled fire safety system at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, US.

Back in March 1981, the MGM Grand Hotel and casino was in the midst of reconstruction after a fatal fire had torn through the building in November 1980.

Following the disaster, The Milwaukee Journal reported on March 11, 1981 that Johnson Controls was designing and installing a $5 million computer-controlled fire safety system to ensure that such an incident could never recur, and the MGM Grand could become the “safest hotel in Las Vegas” according to then president and CEO of MGM Grand Hotels Inc, Alvin Benedict.

MGM Grand Hotels selected Johnson Controls to install the state-of-the-art fire control system, with a central computer that controlled a whole network of sprinklers, smoke detectors and alarms, alongside special ventilation and smoke exhaust technology, to avoid any destructive repeat of the previous year's fire.

Installation of the new fire control system was completed in April 1981, with the hotel able to reopen in July. Upon its reopening, the MGM Grand was the biggest hotel in the world with over 2.5 million square feet of space inside its interconnected 26-storey towers.

The anniversary of the MGM Grand Hotel project in the US comes just weeks after news in the UK emerged that the Arconic company which produced cladding for Grenfell Tower did not inform certifiers about a failed fire safety test of the product which occurred 13 years before the 2017 tragedy, despite being legally required to do so.

Claude Schmidt, the president of Arconic, informed the Grenfell Tower Inquiry that the failure to inform certifiers was a "misleading half truth" but denied that the information was deliberately concealed or undisclosed.

The "5B test" was carried out in 2004 on Arconic's Reynobond PE cassette product, and it was cassette-style cladding that was used on the Grenfell Tower.

The building set ablaze in June 2017 and caused 72 deaths.

Certifiers say that data from the failed "5B test" constituted "crucial safety information" that went undisclosed.

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Authored By

Rhys Taylor-Brown
Junior Editor
March 6th 2021, 11:11am

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