The closure of a guest tower at the Tropicana because of building safety problems made the newspaper last spring, but a similar situation at nearby Hooters early in the summer did not. Both closures resulted from discoveries made during a county resort inspection.
In lieu of Clark County forcing Hooters to close a section, the hotel in late May voluntarily shut down 11 floors in its Bay View tower, until life-safety repairs were made. The hazard that triggered the closure was a vertical shaft for plumbing, whose walls had punctures that could have allowed smoke and fumes to spread during a fire, said Ron Lynn, the county's top building official.
"There was some deterioration in those walls," Gary Gregg, the hotel's chief operating officer, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Usually workers make punctures while rerouting piping in a renovation but are supposed to seal the holes. Rather than plug the penetrations with fire-resistant material, Hooters chose to upgrade the entire shaft so it would withstand flames for a longer period of time.
"A lot of what we did was bring a 1970s construction project -- which in a lot of cases required one-hour rated walls -- up to two hours," a higher standard set by the present code, Gregg explained.
Hooters also needed to install missing dampers, which are mandatory, in new ductwork to those guest rooms, according to county files. When activated, dampers shut to keep fumes or flames from spreading beyond a fire's origin point.
The same tower also had unsealed holes in the fire-rated walls of its corridors, whose air supply must be protected, as they are exit routes during an emergency.
Yet another violation was the wrong placement of audible fire devices above, instead of below, the suspended ceilings in the tower's corridors. That made alarms and public announcements harder to hear.
Approximately 400 affected rooms were out of service for 90 days or fewer.
"We did get rooms opened as they were completed" floor by floor, Gregg said. "We (would) get an inspection on a Thursday, those floors (were) back in operation for weekend travelers."
Hooters paid a double hourly inspection rate as penalty for renovations that had taken place without permits, but county building officials did not have a dollar amount for the extra sum. At the start of this year, Hooters had resolved 29 percent of its 99 violations.
In April, the Tropicana similarly took 560 rooms off-line to correct plumbing and other substandard work that presented an immediate hazard. By early January, the Trop had resolved 49 percent of its 271 violations.