Deceptive Parapet

Chris Dufresne and Mike Freeman from DCFD 13 Truck sent in these photos of an interesting building they came across in DC.

From three sides this building appears to be a two story commercial, however the view from the rear shows something unexpected.

The building is actually a single story with a large parapet wall. The parapet is dressed out to appear to be a full second story, and does not contain parapet drains which would be a dead giveaway. This could come as quite a surprise to the roof team if they approach on one of the parapet sides. The parapet appears to be over ten feet tall, and could pose a slight complication to the members making the roof. It has become an extremely popular trend in building construction to make building appear much more grand then they really are. It’s something we need to be aware of so we don’t get caught off guard.


27 Comments so far

  1. Dave August 31st, 2009 7:10 am

    “Second floor clear, Chief”

  2. Bearpond118 August 31st, 2009 10:33 am

    A problem this may pose to the vent team is if we make acess from the rear and need to vent in the front we can’t really ladder any other sides in case we need to get off the roof quickly… I would be very careful when sounding the roof to be sure it aint going to collapse behind my crew and leave us stranded behind a 10′ wall.

  3. DMAN72 August 31st, 2009 10:46 am

    I’d like to use a quote I usually repeatedly teaching classes…”..and how do we know about this? PREPLAN!” But to take that a step further, you have to have a good line of communication in your department, as well as training program. You get 3-4 people that preplan the building, that’s great, THEY know about. But they have to get the word out and the others must pick up a preplan book (or computer for those of us that have those f@#king things in the trucks). Go Steelers!

  4. DMAN72 August 31st, 2009 10:47 am

    I even proof-read that damn thing and it’s still f’ed up!!!!!

  5. Brian August 31st, 2009 12:42 pm

    Another great find. I wonder if this is an older building with that fascia/extended parapet built up over the existing structure. Talk about a collapse issue.
    And as Bearpond brought up- so much for a second way off.
    Always sound the roof before dismounting your ladder.
    Stay safe.

  6. 42Truck August 31st, 2009 2:25 pm

    Now that lady and gentleman is why we need to do a 360

  7. john August 31st, 2009 2:35 pm

    Go to Google Maps and type in 403 Bruckner Blvd Bronx, NY. Click on the Street View and look at the buildings under construction. Looks like a row of brownstone type buildings. Actually it is a facade for a Con-Ed substation. The aerial view shows the old buildings which use to occupy the block. The street view shows the construction which has since been complete.

  8. jake August 31st, 2009 6:16 pm

    We have had 2 strip malls built in the last few areas with the giant parapet. It is a little creepy to be on the roof and thinking about being stuck behind it. I was up on one last winter for an air cond. issue and really though about it.

    PREPLANS- so important. We have the computers but they are no substitute for an up to date book with all of our notes and shit in it (The computers are good for checking out while staging though). We try to have a station training every so often where we go through the books, drive to the sights and learn about them. Our fire marshal usually comes out and helps as well when there have been major changes.

    Just like every one says: Know thy district!!!

  9. MetroFF August 31st, 2009 9:17 pm

    I’m beginning to think that roof ops on any new construction should be strictly forbidden. Though this does look like a new building with an extreme makeover. I say, “Hey property owner, you wanna build a cheap box, fine, we’ll let it burn. Buy insurance.”

    How’s the saying go, F&*k The Mutts.

  10. FitSsikS September 1st, 2009 10:15 am
  11. truckie4life September 1st, 2009 6:04 pm

    this is one crazy building. there are a lot more of these going up all over. that is why we must get out of the tv chairs and go out and drive our areas. the more we see before the fire the better.

    there is no way we can give up on roof ops. the things we get done on the roof are so important for the engine guys. i have not been to a whole lot of fires, i am from a somewhat small department. but the ones i have been too, the trucks are very important. once that hole gets popped, it is like nite and day inside.

    so get out and find all these trouble areas in the area and pre fire plan them. that way it is alot more fun when you go there at two in the moring for a good working fire.

  12. Capt 5 September 2nd, 2009 3:30 am

    Look before You Leap… Buildings like this are why we sound for the roof before we step out of the bucket. We have a few good size parapets in our response area but nothing like this.

  13. FDNY_Connell September 2nd, 2009 5:48 am

    In the words of my seniorman “uhhhh fuck! think ground ladders!?”

  14. willie September 2nd, 2009 6:03 pm

    This is why I like to do company tours/inspections or just out driving around looking at your response areas. Good Luck.

  15. Ladder96 September 4th, 2009 10:43 pm

    Just another sign of the times. Sacrifice safety for looks. This just increase the collapse zone.

    The architect should be donkey punched.

  16. Scott September 11th, 2009 5:07 pm

    Holy mother……..parapet

  17. davidrosefire September 15th, 2009 10:55 am

    ya i would not vent on that do to the stupidy of the roof lol

  18. orangehelmet4 September 17th, 2009 11:51 am


  19. LT27 September 22nd, 2009 8:45 pm

    360 360 360…..and maybe a 360? Company officers take note…

  20. poindexter September 28th, 2009 3:48 pm

    I’d just pull the ladder around to side 3 and ladder from the parking lot, but its these things that if you aren’t paying attention as you’re driving around,especially the guy sitting backwards. He probably would have seen this long before the D/O or the Front Right Guy With Bugles… But definately you need to pass on this kind of stuff. I’ve kept a phrase from my time in the military and use it on a daily basis “never be the senior man with the secret.” Tell everyone and there brother/sister about it when you see it.

  21. Chris October 15th, 2009 3:38 pm

    When considering the worst (a collapse) not only will you have to accomodate your danger zones as if this were a two story building, and as mentioned by others the lack of escape routes on the roof, you must seriously consider stability. Seeing as there is no roof and we minus two exterior walls, I could not imagine this parapet holding up for an extended period. Even without fire, your chances of collapse would probably double if say a truck went into the building with all of that added weight.

  22. ray October 21st, 2009 9:01 am

    what about deceptive fire chiefs? when are you guys going to make a column on that??!

  23. Jason January 8th, 2010 3:47 pm

    Is that even legal?

  24. Mal January 19th, 2010 11:29 am

    In Warrenton, Va there is a shopping center where the Parapet Wall is about 16 ft from the top of the wall to the roof. It requires the use of Tower 1 just to get to the top of the parapet then attempt to gain access to the roof.

  25. myrooff October 4th, 2016 10:40 am

    Thanks for pics

  26. March 21st, 2017 11:53 am

    The roof which is usually applied in theater and outdoor cinema. Thanks

  27. May 31st, 2017 5:11 pm

    Thanks very roof calculator chech here

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