Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lightweight Truss Construction

While this blog is dedicated to improving fire and emergency services leadership, I want to take some editorial privilege to discuss a fire we had in Roseville yesterday at a four-unit apartment complex (a "quadplex" in the size-up given by Neil Sjostrom). The two-story building had heavy smoke emitting from the front door and a basement egress window. The attack crew was at the front door reporting hot, zero visibility conditions. Assistant Chief Tim O'Neill (Operations reported an all-clear on the unit from information provided by civilians, bu there was a dog inside. I ordered a defensive attack strategy... on a building where only one unit out of four is burning and the fire was spreading quickly. The crew used a thermal imager to assess heat conditions and try to locate the fire. There was high heat in the basement and on the first floor, consistent with the hot, angry, brown smoke that I was observing. They broke out the living room window and flowed some water into the structure. Bingo! The bulk of the fire was knocked down. Positive pressure ventilation was started which improved visibility and the crew entered to find a portion of the living room floor burned away. If they would have entered with high heat and zero visibility, they would have fell through into the basement... and we all know from the NIOSH reports how those usually turn out. I commend the discipline and experience of this crew led by shift commander David Brosnahan to know when NOT to enter. It saved their lives. When the fire was out, we went in to observe lightweight truss construction in the flooring (2x2s with particle board between them). In the end, one unit suffered heavy damage and the other three were completely spared... and we all returned safety to the firehouse! Amen.

Richard B. Gasaway, PhD, EFO, CFO

No comments: