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.”
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.
“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.
Reprinted with permission of PCT Magazine, January 2010.
Fumigation Helps Preserve Nixon Birthplace Home
YORBA LINDA, CALIF. — It’s well-documented that our nation’s 37th President, Richard Nixon, was a fastidious record-keeper. In fact, it can be argued that Nixon’s propensity to record conversations was instrumental in his demise (think Watergate). If Nixon were alive today he probably would enjoy the collection of documents and memorabilia on display at both his birthplace home in Yorba Linda, Calif., and the adjacent Presidential Library on the same site. While the Library is a relatively new building and thus well preserved, the same can not be said for the home, which was built by Nixon’s father, Frank Nixon, in 1912. It was facing a serious threat: termites.
After Mike Marquez, president of Pest Solutions, South Gate, Calif., discovered drywood termite fecal pellets in the attic, subcontractor Mega Fume, Orange, Calif., was brought in to fumigate the historic site using Vikane gas fumigant. A team of four licensed professionals from Mega Fume, led by president Dave Wadleigh, performed the work March 30-31.
Wadleigh said that the home sits on the original site because Nixon did not want to have it turned since it was built by his father, so it actually faces away from the library. Also, the Mega Fume team had to park about 200 feet away, so getting equipment there was a challenge. The Mega Fume team had to shoot (the fumigant) from about 150 feet away. “Since everything is so old, we did not want to have a fog out, and being so far away it eliminated that concern. The extra long lines were used to slow down the gases that shoot in. That minimized any chance out of a fog out. It’s always a little tense working in a structure with items that can’t be replaced.”
Additionally, Wadleigh said security was tight and that Secret Service agents observed them during the entire fumigation.
Wadleigh said the structure was about 16,000 cubic feet (with the home being about 1,200 square feet) and the Mega Fume team shot 10 pounds of gas. He was impressed by the overall structure, which has been renovated throughout the years. “The main timbers are made from Redwood trees and that is something you will see with older homes in this area. Probably one of the reasons why the damage was minimal was because the Redwoods do sort of resist termites, but eventually the enzymes in the Redwoods will break down and the termites will infest it.”
|Mike Marquez (left), president of Pest Solutions, South Gate, Calif., and Dave Wadleigh (right) in front of the historic Nixon birthplace home, which Mega Fume fumigated in late March.|
Reprinted with permission pf PCT Magazine, September 2009.