About three weeks ago we had a structure fire involving a fairly new house. It originally came in as a basement fire (reported by the owner who was still inside) but about six minutes later fire was visible from several miles away. When we arrived it was fully involved, and about three minutes later the first floor collapsed into the basement/garage area, bringing everything else down with it.

Story and pictures here: http://ontariofirewire.com/archives/255

I took the first photo when I arrived, about ten minutes after the tones dropped.

Cause of the fire appears to be a propane explosion which blew out all doors and windows. This may have led to the fire taking such a fast hold on the structure, but the lightweight construction had a lot to do with it.

Collapse occurred about ten minutes after first ignition. We were lucky. This is our second encounter with this type of construction within a year. We are working with code enforcement to identify and mark all houses in our district with lightweight materials.

Watch out, brothers and sisters.

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Thanks for posting this....FASNY is going to be offering a training program on Lightweight Construction Fire Safety this fall.....across the state.
I'll keep you posted.
Is there a standardized plate, or signage for the construction info?

Also why the C/D corner of the building, vice say the B/C, or A/B corner?

I've read about a couple of places now starting to require markings for LW construction, but I don't think there's an NFPA standard for it yet.

GM
Oh, ok... That makes sense.

I think a standardized plate would be good so the data is in the same format no matter what town, county or state your in - help prevent mis-reads and deadly mistakes.

GM
We are also looking into the ID plates but we expect some resistance from homeowners on this. Also I do not believe that any requirements will be retroactive.

We have been promoting the use of standard green address signs throughout our district over the past few years. These signs are located out at the road on the mail box post, fence post, tree, whatever.

What we are planning to do is determine ALL structures that are lightweight construction, and trade their green number signs for red or orange ones. That way we will know going into the driveway what we have, and not have to look for a sign on this or that corner, behind the bushes, etc.
We have some training courses here regarding light weight construction and the dangers of truss roofs and floor systems. There isn't a lot of time to safely make entry into newer homes, that's for sure. A great thing to add to your training is to simply head out to a subdivision or home under construction. 2 foot centres, presswood, lack of fire stops between rooms (they seem to be in place, but there are 2 inch gaps in them). It's pretty scary what's going on these days. We actually had someone from the Builders' Association commenting on how the standards have dropped so low that these homes are a danger in any kind of disaster... excess weight from snow has proven to be a problem lately as well. Any heat damage can cause the roof to collapse thanks to the gusset plates and sometimes the only thing holding floors together after fire damage is the hardwood. It sure makes the job a little harder, make entry, then back out before you become another statistic. You can be sure that anything new (homes) is light weight up here. We have a lot of lightweight wood frame 3 and 4 level condos here as well. Scary stuff.
Hello I am curently a fire fighter with the Inuvik NT department (northern Canada) and alot of the construction here is light weight trailer type. USB board aka gas board, floor trusses which used to be a two by six between two two by fours is now a piece of USB board between two pieces of basic dry wall and the danger of floors failing is that much more. Considering just under a 2min burning time and any common trailer is a pile of ashes.

Because of the permafrost way up north our household pipes can't be in the ground, as they would freeze, so our pipes and hydrants are located in wooden and metal boxes that run all over town.

Check out our web site at www.Inuvikfire.com

Stay Safe!
New York State Law addressing Truss identification on Commercial Buildings:

http://www.dos.state.ny.us/code/part1264.htm

http://www.dos.state.ny.us/code/pdf/TRUSS.pdf

It's a start. Perhaps this is somethng that you could expand to residential buildings locally.
Since this thread was first started, a couple of things have happened.

First, our Chief gave a small presentation to our town supervisor, code enforcement officer and the CEOs of 2 or 3 neighboring towns. This was so well received that the Chief was invited to address the county organization of CEOs. While nothing immediate has come of it, the awareness level of the dangers of lightweight construction has certainly gone up.

Second, we have been working with our town CEO to discover and mark hazard structures. So far we believe that there are only 8 to 10 of these in town, and 4 are now marked with RED address signs instead of green. A list of the hazard buildings is in each chief's vehicle and apparatus.

Like Adam said, it's a start.
My mindset is; EVERY structure is lightweight construction, until proven otherwise.

I think the signage on commercial structures will probably be accepted without a lot of problem. But when it comes to residences, I foresee a "lynch mob" mentality in some areas. In my territory, there are property owner associations which have deed restrictions which prohibit displaying the US flag on a fixed pole. These signs would fly like a "lead balloon".

As Spanner 122 stated, by driving your area and looking at the type of structures being built, one can readily see what type of materials are being used. It is a pretty safe bet that if lightweight trusses or other laminates are being used in one house, they were probably used in the others. I personally do this with my crews every couple of months.

Amazingly, I have low end subdivisions ($60s - $120s) which use very little pre-engineered components, while the higher end ($250s +) use several different types of lightweight trusses and glu-lam components. The big push in this area, (which I believe would be a better alternative) is to require sprinklers in all new construction commercial and residential. Until that happens, I prefer to take it upon myself to be out there pre-planning, and being observant, and using the mindset at the start of this reply.
bump....more pertinent than word games
Bump. More important than lights on a POV.
The link still works, but the pictures don't really show too much, but still the message is the same with lightweight construction.

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