Building Construction, Fireground Management, Fireground Safety

Parapet Collapse: An Old Danger for Today’s Firefighters

Issue 6 and Volume 171.

By Gary Bowker Lessons not learned are doomed to be repeated. As the “The Ol’ Professor” Francis L. Brannigan said, “The building is your enemy; know your enemy!” This is especially true regarding the parapet. Let’s take a look at the parapet, some of the dangers it presents, and ways to reduce the risk it poses during firefighting. Figure 1. The Parapet Source: Howard J. Hill, Failure Point: How to Determine Burning Building Stability, Fig. 2-20, pg. 47, Fire Engineering Books, 2012. Parapet A parapet is a portion of a masonry wall that rises above the roofline of a building. Typically, parapets are found in ordinary construction (Type III) buildings and are common to large cities and small towns across America. Ordinary construction buildings have historically presented recurring issues of rapid fire spread throughout the cockloft, an increased backdraft potential, and parapet instability. A parapet may serve a number of…

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