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MegaFume Treats Historic Jacob Weinberger U.S. Courthouse

The fumigation involved 40 tarps and more than 8,000 clips and was a 1 million-cubic-foot job.

Brad Harbison | December 9, 2009

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The Jacob Weinberger United States Courthouse, located in San Diego, is more than the area’s local court of a law — it’s a historic landmark built in 1913 that has been photographed by numerous movie, news, and public relations cameras. According to the courthouse’s Web site, the building is popular among these groups “because film crews and news media often find that the historic building has just the right look for their movie shoots and press-conference backdrops.”

VIDEO

Dave Wadleigh took pictures and video of the Weinberger Courthouse fumigation from a roof across the street, another federal building. “The good news was they let me on the roof. The bad news is I could only come down once because the building was a jail and they didn’t want to deal with the security issue more than once,” he said.

Watch the video.

Like many California building from that era, the Weinberger Courthouse found itself under attack from drywood termites. “There was evidence of drywood termites in the attic, but the biggest problem was in the window framing were piles of pellets would be found on numerous windowsills,” said Dave Wadleigh, president of Orange, Calif.-based MegaFume, which was contracted to fumigate the building by Steve Whitson of HiTech Termite Control.

The task at hand was to fumigate the courthouse, which was a 1 million-cubic-foot job that involved 40 tarps and more than 8,000 clips (the numerous clips were need to avoid a “blow open” since the crew had to contend with an afternoon sea breeze).

Wadleigh said this particular job involved the usual pre-planning tasks of measuring the job and walking the perimeter. However, once work began, every employee that was going to be on the job site had to pass security clearance by the Federal government. The MegaFume crew had to meet with the building administrator, computer engineers, and the building engineer. 

 Dave Wadleigh (right) of MegaFume in front of the courthouse.
The interior of the courthouse.
The fumigation used more than 40 tarps and 8,000 clips
 
 

“The concerns raised ranged from the breakage of the tile roof, to leaving the air-conditioning on in the computer server room, to not touching any paper work in the judge’s chambers, to which people were allowed in the building,” Wadleigh said. “During the procedure we had to post a man at each open door while being watched by U.S. Marshals. To do the job we had to have a man-lift for the high seems and a forklift to get the tarps to the roof.”

Wadleigh said MegaFume use a 20-man crew, which began work at 7 a.m., and finished around 5 p.m. There were some inherent challenges with the structure, including the height of the two towers. “The building had a lot of exterior antique décor we had to take time and care to prevent damage,” Wadleigh said. “Plus we had to be very careful. A historical building must have approval from the historical society to do any wood work, which includes any repair work (i.e., painting, etc). If we would have broken something we just couldn’t fix it; we would have had to have gotten approval. We even walked around wiping up any dirt or a possible hand print.”

Wadleigh said overall that this particular job went smoothly thanks to pre-planning and an experienced crew.

 

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