Archive for March, 2010

Would You Expect It?

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Over the years we have shown numerous interesting homemade supplemental security devices, but most of them are found on commercial structures. Would you have ever have expected to find them in a residential structure? We sure hope so. You shouldn’t be surprised to find them on any type of structure. Deputy Chief Jon Starling from Sterling VFC (Loudoun County,VA) sent in these photos of a find at a residential structure. This door was found in the basement and provides access directly to the outside of the structure (with four steps up to grade level.)

The wooden L brackets are secured into the doorframe with two lag bolts on each side. The drop bar itself is a 2×4 that extends past the door on each side. The door is a one hour fire rated metal clad door. The walls surrounding the doorframe are concrete up to the 3 foot level and 2×4 framing (blanket insulation, sheathing and vinyl siding) above. There is no visual indication from the outside of the presence of the bar. This is common when a drop bar is utilized with an inward swinging door, since the brackets are mounted to the doorframe.

With a little determination, this can easy be defeated but may certainly be unexpected. Sounding the door should alert you to some sort of supplemental lock at that level. While are not trying to say you need to know everything about every single structure in your area, we are saying you need to keep your eye out for as much as you can. Always expect the unexpected.

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Ventilation Rib System

Michael Cox from Rock Hill (SC) Fire Department sent in these photos of an interesting fire that the crews from Rock Hill were recently faced with.

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The crews quickly discovered that it was the roof decking that was burning; however, they were having a difficult time accessing and extinguishing the portion of the roof decking that was on fire. The roof system they encountered is called a Ventilation Rib System. The system consists of a corrugated metal decking, 4 inches of Styrofoam insulation, 7/16” OSB, and then finally covered with asphalt shingles. The system is designed to maintain a steady airflow under the shingles to keep them cool.

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In this particular fire, the insulation was burning in-between the metal decking and the OSB, making for the stubborn fire and difficult access. The crews discovered that once the main body of fire was knocked down, simply backing out the 6” screws was the most effective way to open it all up for overhaul. Several crews spent nearly 9 hours removing the decking and performing overhaul.

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Multiple Attics Need Multiple Holes

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As we have pointed out so many times on this site in the past, some buildings are just going to be a challenge. Captain Adam Kibler from Houston Engine 28 sent in these pictures of one of those challenging jobs. The fire building was a wood frame two story condominium with multiple roof lines. The multiple roof lines presented the crews with a challenge since they created a situation with multiple attics and multiple ceiling levels inside. In this case, the fire started in the first floor garage and quick spread through the walls into the different attics and various void spaces. The living room had 15+ foot tall ceilings which allowed for clear cool conditions inside despite the advancing fire. These tall ceiling also required the use of attic ladders and long pike poles on the inside. Ladder 51 made the roof and cut various vent holes shown below.

An aggressive interior attack, paired with the required roof vent allowed the Houston crews to keep this fire contained to the end units of the building. If it wasn’t for the vent (and the aggressive attack) the outcome would have be totally different. Remember, vent early, vent often!

Click Here to see some more photos of the fire.

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Can U Tell From the Front?

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Billy Farrell from Lewiston (ME) Engine Company 5 sent in these photos of an interesting building in his area. The structure is a three story wood frame multifamily dwelling with a flat roof. From the front of the building nothing seems worth discussing, however a view from the C side of the building shows something different.

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The building is actually a “U” shaped building which creates a potential hazard during roof operations. The shape of the building creates a void in the middle of the building, that when obscured by smoke, could increase the potential for a member operating on the roof to fall. Obviously, this would not be a problem if the members of the roof team are simply paying attention and sounding while they travel across the roof.

A simple 360 by one of the crews would reveal this hazard early in the operation. Whenever a building is determined to be “U” or “H” shaped, this information should be shared with the other crews operating on scene, particularly the truck company. This style building is quite common. Buildings are sometimes designed with a “H” or “U” shape to increase the amount of windows and daylight available to each occupancy.

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Look Up!

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John Jeniec from Fairfax (VA) Rescue Engine 433 sent in these pictures of an interesting find he and the crew discovered while operating on scene of an automotive upholstery repair garage fire. The fire building was a single story building (300’ x 50’) containing multiple occupancies constructed with masonry walls and steel bar joist. Undoubtedly. many of our areas have very similar buildings with a wide variety of different types of businesses in them.

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Another crew member, Joe Tutt found something unique as he opened the roll up door of the Delta exposure (not the fire occupancy.) Look close, the occupancy owner had rigged up a system to haul and suspend a snow blower, storage box (with unknown contents), treadmill, and a sofa above the entryway using 3/8 nylon rope. All four of those heavy items are merely suspended by the rope. We all know what could have happened if the fire had extended into this occupancy. A moderate smoke condition would have obscured this, and would not take much heat to defeat the 3/8 rope and bring this down on one of us. These buildings are just like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna’ get. Keep your eyes open out there!

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Positive Lock System

Engineer Steven Negedly from Orlando Fire Dept Engine Company 9 sent in these photos of a new locking system he found during a pre-fire plan of a new big box store in his area. This system is called the Positive Lock system. From the outside, the only indication of it presence is the four carriage bolts and the lock cylinder in the middle of the door. Click here to see the supplemental page with the details and more pictures.

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18 comments