Bottoms Up! Restoring Tampa’s Yuengling Brewery
Five floors of brewery cellars with approximately 16 beer holding tanks on each level were affected by heavy smoke, soot and a massive amount of water that was pumped in by firefighters.
On October 26, 2013, firefighters responded to a fire at Tampa, Florida’s Yuengling Brewery to discover sections of the 100-foot roof and the side of the structure engulfed in flames. Extinguishing the blaze took about 60 firefighters and the aerial guidance of a police helicopter, as the flames had to be battled from the building’s exterior. But that didn’t mean that there wasn’t damage to the interior as well. In fact, officials believe that the fire was ignited accidentally when a welder inadvertently heated old wooden beams within a wall, causing them to smolder for several hours before the wall itself ignited.
Once the flames were doused, a badly damaged 1950’s-era brewery that needed extensive restoration stood. Three days after the fire, Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling of Tampa began the work.
With authorization from Yuengling Director of Operations Jim Helmke, technicians immediately conducted an evaluation and inspection of the facility.
The Yuengling offices, which were located directly below the roof where the fire occurred, suffered severe contaminated water and soot damage.
Aside from the offices, most of the direct fire damage was confined to walls and ceilings in the 100-foot long by 100-foot wide, 20-foot tall brewery cellars, which serve as temperature and moisture controlled holding areas for the craft beer. Five floors of brewery cellars with approximately 16 beer holding tanks on each level were affected by heavy smoke, soot and a massive amount of water that was pumped in by the firefighters. The water became contaminated with soot when it made contact with the damaged materials. With the dimensions of the tanks at approximately 45-feet in length by 12-feet in circumference, multiple challenges were presented to the restoration crews.
Once the scope of work was determined, the Paul Davis team organized and managed its strategy to start the job. The Yuengling offices were packed out, dried and all contaminated materials were removed.
That was the easy part.
The more difficult part was working in the brewery cellars, where technicians endured cold temperatures of 34 degrees Fahrenheit. Work conditions included detailed safety precautions that were implemented for crew members, who wore harnesses due to working in a constantly wet environment on ladders. Extra tall ladders were used to reach the tanks and ceiling heights. Specially-trained workers were required to wear winter clothing (gloves, ski masks, etc.)and waterproof rain gear for the highly-specialized cleaning. The tight spaces, working from tall ladders, along with being hooked up to safety harnesses – not to mention the cold temperatures - added to the difficulty of completing the job.
Crews worked five days a week for approximately 16 weeks to complete the arduous and extremely difficult fire restoration cleaning work. Another significant accomplishment on the job included cleaning the large, intricate HVAC systems throughout the building, along with the special refrigeration systems. The team capped off the job by replacing a 30-foot by 30-foot “Yuengling” sign that was originally damaged from the fire. The sign was installed on the side of the building in April of this year and can be seen from miles around towering over the brewery.
Paul Davis completed the entire large loss project in July 2014.