Saturday, September 12, 2015

Additions added onto buildings can be a Death Trap for Firefighters

Building additions are common  as a business grows but they can pose significant risks to firefighters when not properly thought thru. especially when it comes to covering over old Windows and Doors
from the existing structure  as you can see in the pictures below.

When this building was added onto the window was left in place and not properly covered over a firefighter trapped during a fire  inside the old building could be feeling around in the smoke trying to find a way out feel the window ledge in the above photo think he has found a way out when in fact he has not even if he successfully breaks thru it all he has done is broken into the addition.

This is exactly what happened when 3 Pittsburgh Firefighters where killed in a Home in Brushton when a window was covered over with heavy Plexiglas  and they thought they could make there way out  when they felt the window ledge and could not when the steps collapsed and trapped them in a basement.

Take this building in the picture below  looks like a normal building right?

 You would be wrong on the left side of this building underneath is an old Boron gas station this building on the left is a shell built over the original structure I would be willing to bet if I went down to local fire station not one of the fireman there would know this as it was done over 20 years ago.
 Like Francis Brannigan always said  " THE BUILDING IS THE ENEMY  KNOW THE ENEMY"

So what buildings do you have in your district which have been built over layer after layer that are waiting to get you? this is why it is important to do company tours and know how buildings have been modified or be prepared to suffer the consequences.

1 comment:

  1. Fire Fighting has inherent risk. It is the Fire Fighters duty to minimize these risk factors and go home safely. With that being said... There are and for many, many, year been building codes. The codes such as the International Building Code (IBC), International Fire Code (IFC) were more or less the result of death and insurance companies drive to reduce claims. It's is one thing for a Fire Fighter to risk his life to save that of another but to risk it for a building that has failed to meet code requirements is another. After reviewing the exterior picture you posted, it should lead any company officer upon arrival this building to establish that it poses many firefighting challenges including high occupancy load, it has poor fire fighter access and common attics and most likely not build to code. Additional red flag would be the lack of s fire sprinkler system, stairway access, limited or no fire wall/partitions. This should present a risk evaluation prior to starting firefighting operations.

    As you indicated about the window being a issue, there are many more issues with this building than just a interior window. Truth be told that fire fighter are challenged daily around the world with issues of less than ideal construction methods, thus making it the responsibility of the fire fighter ever so much more important to train, train, train, and to pre-plan as required by NFPA and more so by their families that want them to come home safe.