Just curious, as to how many of you take your company or department members out to view renovation or construction projects? I know alot of times firefighters grumble when we say we are loading up to head down to "so and so's" place to complete a familiarization tour. Never once have I ever in my career, been to one of these tours and not learned something new. Everytime I have increased my personal education or experience which greatly helped my career. This is exactly why I force the grumblers to load up and get on the road.


During a recent "field trip" we toured a commercial / residential mixed occupancy that temporary holds alot of people who are passing through our region. On this particular renovation project, we uncovered some very interesting contractor work. Some of which is very old and others not so much. We were told by the GC that this occupancy had been renovated twice before to upfit, different tenants in this large building. The day we stopped to tour the facility, they were still in mid-demo mode. Walls and ceilings were opened up. Perfect time to see how the actual structure was built.



When we think heat tape for plumbing, we usually think mobile homes or trailers in the colder climate of the US. Well here we have heat tape and a "special outlet" which was hidden behind a sheetrock ceiling with power protecting a 6" pipe.



As we continued on throughout the remainder of the structure, we came upon some interesting plumbing fixtures that had an overzealous plumber who made holes for his work in pre-stressed concrete panels. This was hidden by a sheetrocked ceiling as well.



You will note the steel cable which actually creates the PRE-STRESSED feature for providing the strength in between the plumbing trap. This was in the first floor ceiling. The concrete is the actual floor of the second floor.



This last shot is actually a breach in a different section of the same pre-stressed contrete panel and the hole was 12"x 24" in size. The hole was made so a cold air return plenium could bring the room air back to the heating system. This was hidden by an air grate in a drop ceiling grid system.


Did you note that there is only one steel cable? The second appears to have been cut to make the hole unobstructed. Many have seen this type of work with the new lightweight TGI beams, but this goes to show that even though it's concrete, contractors who need to get their work done in the quickest or shortest route will breach the hardest of construction materials.


Make sure you and your crew go out and tour renovation projects, meet the GC and ask if you can have a tour of the construction site. This is the only way you can obtain valuable information about the construction type in the older pre-existing occupancies.


Take care and stay safe.






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That's scary! Did you guys report the findings to any authority for follow up?
Yes the problem was run up the chain of command.

I guess my next thread will be on POV lights or color of helmets

Thats why we do what we do. Good catch!
No Crickets here FETC
When I was active, part of my responsibilities included pre-incident planning. Not so glamourous, and I am sure the guys (some at least) just wanted the damn buildings to burn so they could get some action. I loved going through the buildings and showing the guys "what if?" and how to be aware. I figured if the building inspections in our town were not being done, at least we could know at a glance WTF we were sending our people into. Real eye opener in most cases. Simply amazing how shit got done and is being done, without any form of formal interferance. Light weight truss, bla bla bla.. I find it disturbing as hell to find that so very little attention is being given to one of the most important aspects of the job.. inspections, pre-incident planning, and building familiarization. It is not a case of IF the building is going to have a fire.. it is WHEN... How many depts. are prepared and really take the time to use the plans to formulate a plan of attack.. and be ready to say NO F'n WAY are we risking anything going into this building, because these plans say so!
Too bad the important threads don't get the attention they deserve. Proof that we still have a long way to go before we can say we are good enough!
I was actually even considering offering to put plans onto cad programs and prepare the plans for anyone who wanted it done, usually the smaller depts. with limited resourses. But, I suspect there is not enough interest.
Thanks FETC
We don't have much time most days to go around to look at buildings, but when we are on medical locals we take the extra time to check things like where the standpipe connections are and where all of the exits are.
I thought larger cities had fire prevention divisions that would take care of some of that. Might be wrong there too. I know some depts. here in canada, the companies are responsible to go through the buildings in their response district, but yah, how much of that can really be done when you are running calls all the time. And yet, the cuts keep coming! sad huh?
We don't do actual inspections. You're correct that there's a separate division for that. I just meant we look at things for our own good when we can. Helps to know those extra little things in our first due.
I can't believe the building inspector let those features slide. Good catch FETC, boot to the head for the code enforcement clowns.
Done when permits were not pulled. This kind of stuff is all over the place.
We don't allow companies to do inspections, there are too many of them with different opinions of the code. We are allowed to do building familiarization tours. When we see something we call the inspector down or document it and push it up the chain of command. The tour is for familiarization, but many of the guys are contractors and know the codes. When an issue is found it is identified to the proper division.
It is the weekend... no crickets... just busy... give everyone a couple of days to catch up !!!

AWESOME EXAMPLES !!! There is GREAT power in what you said FETC.

Lutan said it ALL - SCARY !!!

We toured some buildlings - mostly because a bunch of our guys are also contractors and they were curious - not because it was an automatic standard of practice and not the same job as the County Fire Inspection for safety approval.

Several of those familiarity tours served us very well - when those buildlings actually burned. SO I SEE THE VALUE in the task... It should be practiced more.

We always tour (and do training drills in) the main public buildings yearly - all schools, hospitals, and municipal buildings. Being in farm country - many of the farmers also would invite us over to have us tour their properties to ask our counsel and to help us understand their system of operation and how best to obtain access for trucks and closest water sources - since there are no hydrants in the forest and fields. Many of the farmers would be gracious enough to take time and teach us about their silos and their fancy machinery discussing with us the best rescue system for their particular silo or equipment.

Most of our townspeople valued the fire departments opinion and would call to have us review the plans and come through their building on purpose, so they could set up the best sprinkler system, exit plans, etc. MOST of those buildings NEVER had problems, because the building architect, owners, and managers were highly concerned about safety BEFORE they built or remodeled.

And most of our neighboring fire department understand that larger structures need mutual aid - so they were mostly gracious in including us in their tours as well to learn the lay of their land as well.

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