This news video of a fire in a vacant hotel in Stockton, California, highlights some of the concerns all of us share when responding to and preplanning our responses to these types of structures.
The Stockton firefighters made a great decision to abandon interior attack early on after discovering several stairwells had been removed in the building. The removal of partitions, walls, stairwells, and other impediments to fire travel make fires in these buildings extremely dangerous. Also, smoke movement in these buildings is much more difficult to assess because of these unusual openings.
It appears in this video that the fire extended rapidly to the roof and additional concerns were shared by the Stockton Fire Department about the integrity of the basement. Great stop and great fireground decision making by the Stockton fire Department; I highly regarded an outstanding organization.
In order to better prepare ourselves for these types of fires, here is a great article by Steve Imbarlina from Fire Engineering magazine, January 2013.
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Chief (Ret.) Bobby Halton is editor in chief of Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment and Fire Engineering magazines and education director of the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC).