Fire Prevention & Protection, Firefighter Training, Firefighting

Sizing up Low- and Mid-Rise Office Buildings

Issue 10 and Volume 164.

By JAMES McDERMOTT Most departments’ bread-and-butter operations consist of private dwellings and taxpayer-type structures. The economic boom in past decades created a market for developing office buildings in suburban and rural areas that are generally three to seven stories high with glass curtain walls. These large or supersized modern structures vary in shape and size and feature steel I-beams, metal bar joists, and Q decking-type construction (photo 1), which will challenge operational capabilities. Extensive duct systems are also part of the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. (1) Modern construction features include steel I-beams, open steel bar joists, Q decking, and glass curtain walls. Note the size of the plenum in the area of the ductwork. (Photos 1-3 by author.) You must become familiar with these buildings in your response area. EMS runs, automatic alarms, scheduled drills, and building inspection periods provide you with the opportunity for a more in-depth…

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