Firefighting, Technical Rescue, Truck Company

Vacant Warehouse Fire: Lessons Learned

Issue 6 and Volume 164.

BY JEFFREY A. HARWELL The Worcester, Massachusetts, cold storage warehouse fire on December 3, 1999, in which six firefighters perished, reinforced important lessons for fighting fires in large, unsecured vacant commercial buildings. But other nonfatal fires occurring in similar occupancies offer additional lessons for firefighters regarding dangerous interior conditions. A 1992 fire that occurred in a Fort Worth, Texas, warehouse demonstrated that any large vacant commercial building can expose firefighters to extreme and unexpected hazards on any day. The fire building was the last place firefighters expected to confront a five-alarm fire. Below is an analysis based on a review of the incident report. BUILDING CONDITIONS, 1992 The Texas & Pacific (T&P) Railroad freight warehouse at 70 South Jennings Street is located on the southern end of the Fort Worth downtown district. The railroad built the eight-story structure with basement in 1931 to store a variety of goods and materials.…

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