If you pulled up on this store front or one like it, what is your first course of action?

With a fire or just a haze, one of the first things that needs to be done, with an attack line ready, is to start looking above the drop ceiling.  Even if it is drywall, you have to see what is above you in these occupancies.

These types of occupancies are found in fast food establishments, sit down restaurants and strip mall type buildings.  Most of these new commercial buildings are all light weight, truss, engineered lumber construction.

By lifting the tiles and breaching the ceiling, we know how far the fire has advanced before committing people into these buildings.  The concealed spaces are important for initial fire attack in these situations.  It might indicate that the front door is as far as you go.

You have to consider, however, that the overhang outside the front door could be compromised if fire is found in the void spaces of the ceiling.  Fire could be racing through the soffit of the overhang out front.  Additional weight of signs will also cause early failure of these building features.

Remember to think on your feet and be sound in your decisions.  These decisions come from experience and training.  So, train hard and often.

Stay safe and be careful.

Photo from the Fillmore Gazette

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Hear, hear! Guys and girls, you MUST remember to practice this!
What I've found is that the soffit of the parapet/overhang is generally finished with something like drivit stucco as opposed to tiles, but then too there generally is a scutt hole to open and inspect. If not, holes are easily made.
Good point. I have seen them finished with plain old plywood too.
I belive this would be a great time to get the TIC out
That is a good play, just don't rely on it and it only. An actual visual is needed.
Just be careful with giving it a gulp of fresh air it is basically the same as a cockloft. And don't forget those heavy AC units above.
Just another tool in the box
I hear you. Thanks for commenting and adding to the conversation.
This is for all intents and purposes "a disposable" building"... lightweight steel and wood truss construction, tar and gravel or rubber membrane roof, heavy HVAC units on the roof and in this case ductwork for the dryers up through the roof. Add the false facade, and you have a firefighter killer.

The irony is.. if there was a LODD from this fire, while we grieve for our lost comrade, the realty company that owns the building is already making plans to rebuild in the same spot with the same materials and methods.
Ron, your right about the disposable building stuff. I like to take a peek even on alarm soundings, just because you never know and it is a good habit to get into. Now, let make it very clear to all who might read this, I do not punch through drywall or other ceiling coverings on alarm soundings, I only lift the ceiling tile if that is what the ceiling assembly is. Thanks again for your comments, it's good to have different points of view. Take care, jason
A good reminder, there have been reports of backdrafts from concealed spaces. I have only seen one in my time, it was from a bathroom window. Pretty cool though.

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