Garden Apartment and Townhouse Fires

Issue 110 and Volume 162.

By TOM DONNELLY In the late 1800s and early 1900s, when housing was in incredible demand, a common approach was to build multiple-dwelling type structures. These structures were nonfire-resistive in construction and presented firefighters with hot, smoky fires and a serious life hazard. Although these structures still present great challenges to firefighters, a new problem has arisen: the garden apartment and townhouse fire. Like multiple- and single-family dwellings, these structures present great challenges to the modern day firefighter. This article will look at this relatively new fire problem, some of the dwellings’ construction features, and some suggested practical tactics. Although garden apartments and townhouses have some similarities, they are actually different from each other. A garden apartment is a low-rise, multiple dwelling anywhere from one to three stories high. Most garden apartments have the living space and bedrooms on the same floor; there is no interior stair within the apartment.…

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