I am a big fan of companies getting out and scoping out their response area. Just when you think you have seen it all, something catches your eye that you missed the other 100 times you passed it by.  We all know what I am talking about.

Look at the picture above. As a fire service leader, what do you see?  What have you learned from your years of experience and training about these types of buildings?

What is of significance?










What is of significance that you see right away but the new guy might not have a clue about?

As an officer that will be making the initial decisions on this building you have a great responsibility to know as much about this structure as you can.  It will certainly help you to make the best possible decision about your tactics.

Take the time to sit with your crews and look at the features of this building. What type of construction is it?  What type of occupancy is it?  Why are both so important?  It just might mean the difference of saving the occupants and yourself.

Stay safe and be careful.

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At this stage.. it is a "vertical lumberyard".

I see a lightweight wood frame multi-family apartment or condominium building. Hopefully, the local codes and/or orinances will require residential sprinklers and a master box fire alarm system
And without being able to walk through, I'm only hoping there are firewalls. Wooden staircases will be a hazard if involved in fire. A giant tinderbox for sure.
a trap!!
A pile of kindling....? Can't tell much from what is provided...I HOPE there are firewalls...I HOPE there will be a sprinkler system....I HOPE they aren't using engineered construction techniques....I HOPE there will be a nearby hydrant system with enough flow to be of use...I HOPE there will be available adequate accessability to get to the place if the need arises(all 4 sides) I HOPE there wil be fire escapes and appropriate smoke and CO alarms...I would strongly reccommend a walk through as the building progresses to "see" what is what.....what you see today may save your ass tomorrow.....
In Portugal , it is rare to find these houses, in my town does not exist, except on the beach and is much smaller.
I see light weight construction, multi family apartment,with a possible problem with the stairs if fire impinges on it, could be a trap hazard. Quite possibly a common attic, from which would be a wide open space for fire spread.
Difficult to make any concrete conclusions but, based on the overall view(s) I would conclude the following:

With a standard door height of 80" (and r/o ~83") there appears to be about 4ft. above the slider openings to the second (actual) floor. That suggests that the second floor is either I-beam or truss construction. If it's trussed (and the 1st floor is a living space so the ceiling will be drywalled) then there are voids running (probably) front to back. However there's a very good probability that the ceiling is 5/8 fire rated so that may not be that big an issue, initially.

The roof most likely is trussed as well and it appears to be an elongated hip roof. Given the general layout I would suspect that the mechanicals are in the attic, adding significant weight over each 2nd floor unit. Likewise I would suspect that there are firewalls, but most likely to secure each attic space for storage as opposed to reducing fire spread.

The balconies can be one of two types, lagged to the box joist or cantilevered (extending the floor joists.) Assuming the floors are either I-beam or truss then it's logical to assume the balconies are bolted on. As such a fire extending from the 1st floor beneath it could quickly impinge on both the support posts as well as the (3/8" or 1/2") lags holding it to the building, which could mean a rapid balcony collapse.

That there are balconies suggests to me that we're looking at the charlie side. If not then the building may be laterally bisected with front and rear units, which doubles the occupancy. The center units are one down/one up and it looks like the end units are single occupancy. I'm guessing that there are similar units rather close on either side and that this is a large project so water supply probably won't be an issue, the area will be well hydranted.

Overall, not atypical for my area, at least in terms of construction and hazards (many new construction are approaching this building in size but are SFD's). Like any building, understanding how it's built and how it will react is paramount to putting the fire out and the time from 911 notification to first apparatus on scene will drive how the fire is handled. Exposure protection is going to be integral in the overall operation.
well without any assumptions, literaly I see a strong possibility for a defensive fire. I see early collaps. I see no life hazard but us. And all the other stuff the other guys mentioned as well.


Lightweight construction with some engineered lumber. The attic appears to have provisions for fire stops above the stairs and between the apartments. However with the fireload, I would hope city or county ordnance requires sprinklers.

The stairs are what caught my attention. We have many complexes in our MA area, and it isn't unusual to see wooden stairs during the initial construction phase. The steel and concrete stringers and landings are added later. However, these appear to be built for a more permanent finish. It is also hard to tell from the images whether the balconies are framed for a cantilever concrete slab, which is also common out here, or if they are indeed to be wooden.

A walk through would most definitely be indicated
I see Fire Separations, not the best, but there does appear to be some type of separation walls around the stair areas and half way between the two visibale stairs in the full face picture. I see ledger board balconies not true cantilever balconies, a collapse problem! I do see a hint of the wooden I-Beams, but I could be wrong. Wooden stairs, always a problem. Maybe the lack of gusset plates on the roof trusses, an indication of the comb tooth and glue joints, very dangerous!

I hope every one gets out to their own respective response and neighboring response areas to find all of the trouble spots. Make drawings, not locations, get to know these structures intimately. Too many do not do that and end up being trapped and possibly die.
Hey, nice job with the picture and arrows. Thanks.
Oldman, nice work on editing the shot! Same thoughts on the steps after seeing top riser.

Ralph, what landing? This place would be a nightmare for an arrested, oversized, patient!

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