New standing-seam zinc roof to protect historic light station lens

August 9, 2011 (Raleigh, NC) — When the historic Fire Island Lighthouse’s new Fresnel Lens Building opened to the public last month, visitors saw the new standing-seam zinc roof donated by Umicore Building Products USA Inc. (UBP) and metal roof manufacturer ATAS International.

The Fire Island Lighthouse on Fire Island National Seashore in New York was built in 1858 and fitted with a first-order (or large) Fresnel lens. Fresnel lenses were intricately shaped, 16-foot-tall masses of brass and glass prisms designed by French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel. They rotated on a clockwork assembly, emitting a white flash at one-minute intervals. On Fire Island, the original lens served as a beacon to mariners from 1858 to 1933.

Anticipating electrical lighting, the U.S. administration of lighthouses removed the large lens in 1933 and stored it in the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. When the Fire Island Preservation Society decided to build a new educational facility and bring the 1858 lens home, UBP offered to donate its VMZINC coil for the new roof.

ATAS International, headquartered in Allentown, Pa, donated its services to manufacture the roof. Kenneth J. Herman, Inc. of Amityville, N.Y., donated design services and managed construction.

Engineer Kevin Albert of Kenneth J. Herman, Inc., praised UBP and ATAS for their generosity to the Fire Island Preservation Society “at a time when the economy is still hurting.”

Erik Berg, former North American applications manager for UBP, explained the challenge the zinc roof entailed: “Fire Island is a uniquely shaped, marine environment application,” he said. “To achieve the longevity desired and to maintain the integrity of the beautiful gray aspect [of the zinc], proper detailing and installation was critical.”

ATAS president Dick Bus said he was “very impressed with the number of volunteers involved with the project” when he first visited the site. Volunteers, material donors such as UBP and ATAS, and money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded the project.

For more information on the Fire Island Lighthouse and Preservation Society, visit www.fireislandlighthouse.com.

For more information on UBP and VM Zinc, visit www.vmzinc-us.com.

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