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.
In the largest loss of life fire since the Cocoanut Grove 35 years ago, 162 persons lost their lives when fire swept through the huge Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, Ky., last May 28. In addition, more than 100 persons, including several fire fighters, suffered smoke inhalation and burns.
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.