Apparatus & Equipment, Firefighting, Truck Company

Storage Unit Fires: Hazards Unknown

Issue 10 and Volume 169.

BY JOSEPH T. BERRY The self-storage facilities considered below are generally one- or two-story buildings featuring prefabricated lightweight metal or concrete-block construction. Although they share similar problems and hazards with all self-storage facilities, these construction types seem to suffer the most at fire incidents. The incident commander’s (IC’s) major concerns operating at a fire at a self-storage building are the lightweight construction’s collapse potential; the enormous amount of sometimes densely packed, combustible contents; and the unknown hazardous materials or liquids stored within. Self-storage facilities are in almost every large city, suburb, and rural area throughout the United States. Overall, most self-storage facilities are safely and securely managed. But unfortunately, some facilities fall short. To rent a storage space, the person renting signs a renter’s agreement, which prohibits, among other things, the storage of flammable liquids, gases, or other hazardous chemicals or materials. But unless the proprietor visually inspects the storage…

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