In "Ventilating Flat Roofs" (September 1996), I discussed basic roof operations for a first-due truck company in buildings primarily of ordinary construction with flat roofs, skylights, and scuttle covers. Different construction components have a direct impact on our operations. The first personnel on the roof must recognize unusual roof features and relay such information to the incident commander. The IC in turn will determine the feasibility of roof operations and committing additional resou
The weaknesses and unacceptability of lightweight wood truss construction and sheet metal surface fasteners, or “gang nailers,” have been given considerable attention over the past two to three years. I agree wholeheartedly that they are a hazard to the health and well-being of firefighters and civilians.
“The chief told us to ‘take up,’” the captain says to the firefighters, “but before we go, let’s secure the building. There are a couple of broken windows that have to be cleared of glass shards, the roof scuttle cover we vented must be put back, and we have to raise and reset the fire escape drop ladder.”
LIGHTWEIGHT WOOD TRUSS construction is having a major impact on firefighter safety and survival throughout the country. This fact has been emphasized over and over in this and other fire service publications by Frank Brannigan, Vincent Dunn, John Mittendorf, and authors of fire reports from every section of the nation.
Recently, a multiple-alarm fire destroyed half of a three-story apartment building in San Antonio, Texas. It was one in a series of extra-alarm fires in which lightweight, wood-frame trusses with metal surface fasteners proved to be an important factor in firefighting operations.
A recent article on lightweight, metal-plate-connected wood truss assemblies (and other newer building components, such as wooden I-beams) focused on concerns of fire service personnel about the performance of this construction when it's exposed to fire.
A one-story, 80 X 120-foot cinder block wall structure covered by a roof assembly of lightweight roll-bar steel truss and Q decking housed a supermarket selling floor in the Davis Creek area outside of South Charleston, W.Va, Across the street, 75 feet away, an excavation crew was working to install a storm drain.
One of the unfortunate facts of life is that the push toward more economical building construction is sometimes made at the expense of the fire fighter's safety. An example of this is the increasing use of the lightweight wood truss. These trusses are made entirely of 2X4 lumber and the members of the truss are fastened together with steel gusset plates.
Many municipalities require the installation of smoke detectors in new homes and apartments, but Farmers Branch, Texas, a Dallas suburb, has passed a smoke detector ordinance that is retroactive under certain circumstances. It requires the installation of smoke detectors not only in all new residential occupancies, but also in existing homes upon a chance of occupancy or ownership, or after repairs or additions exceeding $500 in value.