Drill of the Week: Building Construction and Fire Behavior, Scenario 5

By Forest Reeder

Knowledge of building construction features and fire behavior allow suppression companies to safely identify the potential hazards that are present at incidents. Knowing the hazards and continually monitoring fire behavior can help firefighters predict building collapse; prevent hostile fire events like backdraft and flashover; and establish safe hazard zones to operate in. Review this scenario using similar structures in your town and determine the impact of fire behavior on the building construction as you develop your incident action plan.

This type of construction might be considered a sub-type of one of the major classifications. When fire extends into structural elements of this type of construction, it adds many dimensions of fire extension and travel that may not occur in other construction types. There are some specific features of construction that can help the firefighter identify this construction type and then allow for a quick assessment of necessary tactics needed to check fire extension potential.

Consider the following for operations in this construction type:

1. Be aware of the potential for intense fire in void spaces; where should hose lines be placed to check fire extension in this photo?
2. Can exterior operations assist in checking fire extension at the same time? If so, how would you accomplish this at this scene?
3. What other hazards might be present inside these spaces?  Consider insulation types and other hazards.
4. Describe the types of interior and exterior finishes that may be used to cover up the vertical and horizontal skeleton/void spaces that are present.


Download this week’s firefighter training drill as a PDF HERE.


Forest Reeder began his fire service career in 1979. He currently serves as Battalion Chief / Director of Training & Safety with the Pleasantview (IL) Fire Protection District (www.plvw.org) and is the Director of Training for Southwest United Fire Districts (www.sufd.org). In these capacities, he is responsible for the design, implementation and coordination of in-service training activities as well as a full-service fire training academy program. Forest holds numerous Illinois fire service certifications and holds a Masters Degree in Public Safety Administration from Lewis University.


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