Firefighting

THE HOUSTON TRAGEDY

Issue 5 and Volume 154.

BY FRANCIS L. BRANNIGAN, SFPE (FELLOW) The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued its report F-13 2000 on the McDonald’s Restaurant fire in Houston, Texas. Chief Vincent Dunn and I separately served as consultants on the report. I developed the following thoughts from reading the NIOSH report. Some of them were incorporated in the final report. THE BUILDING I first saw parallel chord wood trusses in 1953, in the construction of a supermarket. At the time, I did not know what they were called, but looking at them told me they were more likely to collapse than solid- sawn joists. I wrote to the then New York fire commissioner suggesting they be examined. There was no reaction. As an Atomic Energy Commission staff member, I turned my attention to being the expert on explaining the true hazards of radiation to firefighters. In 1971, in the first…

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