This short clip show balloon frame construction from the inside. With Engine House Training, LLC this summer, we had the opportunity to hold a class in this building. It was going to be torn down and the interior wall coverings in most of the house had been removed. That exposed the balloon frame construction characteristics that we so often speak of but seldom have the chance to see.

Use this however you like and share it.  Hopefully, this will help someone to better understand the meaning of balloon frame buildings and to ensure proper tactics are used with these structures.

Keep training and pass on your knowledge to others. Share the gift.


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Comment by Jack/dt on November 20, 2011 at 8:11pm


Too bad you didn't get a shot of how the floor joists meet the framing.  Typically, 2x6 ledgers are let into the 2x4 vertical framing, on top of which sit the floor joists.  This creates a void space for smoke and fire to travel not only up between the wall stud bays but into the bays (voids) of the floor.  In a structure where the old plaster and lath were removed during a more recent remodel, plaster may have been left in the wall void, blocking any upward flow of smoke and fire and redirecting it into the floor joist voids, thus extension can occur not only from the bottom to the top, but from one side of the structure to the other.


Interesting sidebar:  The term "balloon" frame was initially a derogatory one.  Previously, all wooden structures were heavy timber framed with mortise and tenon joinery.  This method was time proven over centuries and when this new 'fangled' type of framing was introduced, it was considered such a light weight structure that a breeze would blow it away.  Funny how modern lightweight construction methods have met with the same derision.

Comment by John Jacquette on November 20, 2011 at 2:02pm

If you are new to the business of firefighter then you should watch this. Learn everything possible about building construction. How fire can travel within it and how it effects the structures that it attacks.

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