From another of our many Fire and EMS bloggers, Green Maltese, comes this information about new stair construction,

 

I would first like to give a special thanks to the staff at Firefighters CloseCalls for sending this information to me. So I could share it with you all on Green Maltese.

Also a special thanks goes out to Lt Steve Dykema City of Wyoming Mi. Fire Department for being very heads up training officer and bringing this issue to light.

I-STAIRS:

Attached is info on a new type of stair construction for residential buildings, and a safety bulletin that was put out for the City of Wyoming Fire Department. The stairs are constructed using 2x4s for the main support. The triangles shown hold the stair riser and tread in place. The metal on the bottom of the tread and riser is essentially a gusset plate, similar to truss gusset plates.The inventor of the products has passing on the info below. According to him, if the stairs are on the main floor to second floor configuration, the bottom needs to have drywall. If it is coming from the basement in an unfinished area, no drywall or other protection in required. The entire stair assembly is manufactured in a factory and shipped to the jobsite.


Read more of this and other construction related posts at Green Maltese.

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Holy cow! It's just a matter of time until someone gets hurt falling through one of these. We have three firefighters on the department who would probably test the weight capacity of this product. I appreciate everyone who brought this to FFN. I will pass this info along to my department.

Norm  with all  due respect  the  Metal  Conducts  heat and  disfigures ,  and  7/16ths   waferboard, especially with the chemicals  used in Manfacture,  In the  10 minutes response/ Exposure time , rest  assured   They will be  colapsing as you  are pulling up on sceneIf Your  lucky  you'll get  INside  before  they trap you,then Kill you..especially  when you  add this to the typical  lightweight  wooden  truss  construction or  strand board  Trusses...  I am glad I 'm retired, lots  of suburban   folks  are going to start to die from  this  technology...    

No kidding! That's what I'm referring to. A large person would put excess stress on this system even without the presence of fire. Inspections will reveal these so preplanning can include these new hazards. Thanks again.

According to the inventor (and engineering failure tests) the ultimate failure load was 2,040 lbs.  That's a ton and seems significant to me.

If you look at the included links you'll see that the stair is constructed of 3/4" OSB.

Under normal conditions there is no reason this stair construction would function any differently than a traditionally constructed staircase.

The issue arises if the underside is NOT drywalled (first floor to basement).  And yes, then it becomes an issue.  A quick cure for this type of construction is for LOCAL code to require it be enclosed in 5/8 fire rated drywall for all applications.

We don't (typically) do pre-plans for single family residences. The B.O inspects to ensure it meets code and unless the inspector feels it's important or relevant enough to notify either the Dept. or FMO likely there's no way we're going to know about it.

So everyone continues as usual, sounding staircases.  It's important to understand how these (and all truss systems) work and where they are typically found.  So now we just have to be aware that new construction may include these stairs.  And it still falls back to an appropriate size up, strong knowledge of fire behavior, bulding (and local) construction and your response times.

Under normal conditions there is no reason this stair construction would function any differently than a traditionally constructed staircase.

 

I concur. For the most part this is something to be aware of but shouldn't drastically change tactics. Sounding floors and stairs is still important.

 

We don't (typically) do pre-plans for single family residences. The B.O inspects to ensure it meets code and unless the inspector feels it's important or relevant enough to notify either the Dept. or FMO likely there's no way we're going to know about it.

 

Same with us, this is a building inspector and building code issue. However, now that I see this, I will be more aware that this may be out there and when it comes to new homes being built, it would be something to stop and check out. We don't pre-plan single family residences, but if the home is being constructed, may as well get a look while contractors are still building it.

I'm surprised by the load rating.

Agreed on all.

The load rating and engineering with the truss design and so forth is fine. We know it is strong and can do the job......On the fire side of things, we also know the truss doesn't hold up well with heat and flame.

 

It is good this stuff is being spread around on the internet and making firefighters aware of new construction. If I see this going on in new construction then at least I will have an idea of what to expect if called for a fire.

 

 

Yep I'm sure of it now contractors are trying to KILL us !

I've already spread the word to all the officers in my dept and my chief is sending the link to all his contacts.

And the inventor of the Titantic did no tthink it would ever sink either. 

 

Ok.... how much real testing has gone into this product?  OSB is garbage when it gets damp/wet so what happens in damp conditions similar to a basement?  How about just exposure to normal every day humidity?

 

And how about age related testing?  1, 3, 5, 10, and 20 year exposures?  10 years from now when an ambulance crew is bringing a patient down a flight of stairs (2 or 3 200+lbs firefighters, a stairchair or stretcher and a 200+olb patient) and the stairway fails - where does the liability fall?

 

I do not consider this method of creating a stairwell acceptable and will bring it to the attention of our building department so they can understand what our concerns are

Several things are amiss there Robert.

 

In regards to testing, I hate to say it, but such lightweight construction has shown to be a cost effective and strong building component. The issue tht we face is we know how such stuff is easily affected when exposed to flame and heat. Engineering wise, such building components do the job and at a fraction of the cost.....bottom line, this stuff isn't going away.

 

When it comes tyour assertions with dampness etc, yes, if the material is consistently wet, however, the OSB truss components have been replacing the 2x8 and 2x6 beams for floors for years now. Such components have been exposed to basement conditions for some time and we really haven't been seeing issues with the components failing due to basement exposures. Some of these components have been in use for about 20 years or so, I recall touring some new construction when in high school for a building construction class and seen these being the "new" thing then. So I would say you have had the testing time frame in place.

 

I would agree with bringing this to the building dept as well as concerns, but don't hold your breath that you will not see this method being used. It would be important to address the sheetrock concerns and that such construction should be enclosed with sheetrock if used.

 

I agree with the concerns out there, but this is something we as a fire service, need to be aware of and to watch out for, because we know how such lightweight material reacts to fire.....from the engineering and structural aspects, this crap has shown to be effective and less costly....and for most, that is what matters, the $$$. 

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