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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If you look the balconies are right at floor height, they'll be decked and railed, no concrete. Given the width of the exterior stairs they are permanent. Construction stairs, to be used and then removed are nowhere near as well built as these and are much smaller.

A lot of people refer to this building as tinder or match box but, other than issues with lightweight construction methods, how are they any more tinder than any other house? Wood is wood and it burns fairly well. In many respects I'm more wary of entering old homes that have been remodeled many times over the years, with and without permits. Old homes, wood stoves, double roofs, missing headers,open chases to second floors, homeowner electrical addons and modifications, all can present a greater hazard than a newly built home with lightweight materials.

The thing is, arriving at a lightweight construction built home even late into the event, you kind of know what to expect, flash over, early collapse; at older homes you can go in thinking 'at least it's not lightweight construction' only to have a myriad of other issues take you by surprise. In other words, they can all be bad, it's all in how you look at them.
Jack, you answered something I was wondering about. I saw the slatted wood (shadow on wall below balcony), and wondered if it would be a deck since it was at floor level, or if it could be poured concrete on down the line.
Just to give some thoughts about where I was going with this; the stairs and landings are wood and will remain wood. Unless a local jurisdiction amends the building code, there are no requirements for non-combustible materials. The same goes for the decks, which are at floor level on the second floor.

What you need to consider is that if a fire happens, each unit only has one exit and the second floor combustible landing is the only exit for the upstairs. So, your first course of action may need to be to throw some ladders and check for trapped occupants before you every pull a line. Of course, this is all incumbent upon the first arriving officer knowing the area, the building, and making the "first" right decision.

Everybody is right with the comments and everybody sees different things. The fire barriers are important and the attic is draft protected. FYI, per the IBC any attic area 3000 square feet for over must have draft stopping or spinkler, most draft stop if the rest of the building is not sprinklered. Hope this helps.
Does local code call for egress windows in bedrooms? In CT code requires at least one window with a clear opening of 5.7 sq.ft.
Yes, the size escapes me, but they do.
We actually amended our code to require protected, non-combustible materials for the landing and stairs in all similar buildings. This was the result of a fire that was almost devastating due to the construction characteristics that we are discussing.
I personally would want to get permission to tour and photograph the building for a future chalk talk with the crews
there should not be anyone lliving there at this point .is light weight cont.?what about fire walls

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