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Buildingsonfire.com http://buildingsonfire.com Dedicated to the Art and Science of Building Construction, Firefighting and Command Risk Management for Operational Excellence and Firefighter Safety Tue, 07 Nov 2017 05:29:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Luongo’s Restaurant Fire and Collapse East Boston; Remembrance 1942-2017 http://buildingsonfire.com/the-1942-luongos-restaurant-fire-and-collapse-in-east-boston-six-boston-firefighter-line-of-duty-deaths http://buildingsonfire.com/the-1942-luongos-restaurant-fire-and-collapse-in-east-boston-six-boston-firefighter-line-of-duty-deaths#respond Mon, 06 Nov 2017 13:00:48 +0000 http://buildingsonfire.com/?p=2482 The Luongo’s Restaurant Fire and Collapse 1942-2017; 75th Anniversary and Remembrance

Boston Fire Department Box 6153 Five Alarm November 15,1942

 

Boston Fire Department Box 6153 Five Alarm November 15,1942

A multiple alarm fire and collapse 75 years ago resulting in six Boston Firefighter LODDs was overshadowed by the Coconut Grove Fire which occurred 13 days later. Here’s is the story and their legacy on this the 75th Anniversary. Honor, Reverence and Remembrance

The 1942 Luongo’s Restaurant Fire and Collapse in East Boston; Six Boston Firefighter Line of Duty Deaths

During the early morning hours of Sunday November 15, 1942, a still alarm followed by box alarm 6153 was received for a fire at 4-6 Henry Street located in the Old Armory Building at Maverick Square in East Boston (MA). The address was for a report of fire in the Luongo’s Restaurant. A fire broke out in the rear of Luongo’s Restaurant on the first floor at about 2:26 a.m. The Boston Fire- District #1 report stated the fire originated in the rear kitchen ceiling.

November 16, 1942 New York Times:

The following is a description of the fire from the November 16, 1942 New York Times: “The fire, starting from a fireless cooker in the cafe on the ground floor at Henry Street and Maverick Square, suddenly swept through the building.

The firemen who were killed had just entered a restaurant on the second floor with a line of hose. As the flames ate through the cross timbers the wall collapsed with a roar, burying two men on the stairs and crushing the three others manning the hose. That part of the wall which fell outward felled about forty firemen standing on the Henry Street side of the building beside the new $20,000 ladder truck, which was buried under the wreckage. At the same, a hot air explosion blew a half dozen firemen across Henry Street.”

The Building

The Luongo’s Restaurant was housed in what was called the Armory Building a five and one half story Type III Building of ordinary construction (Brick and joist) consisting of masonry bearing walls with approximate dimensions of 35 feet width x 60 feet depth x 65 foot height. The ensuing fire would spread to the exposure building at 10 Henry Street a three story 20 ft. X 40 ft. x 40 ft type III (brick and joist) structure.

Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

 

Fire and Collapse

Upon arrival of the first alarm companies, the fire initially was commanded by Fire Captain Amsler, Ladder Co. 2. District Chief Crowley rapidly assumed command upon his arrival and directed initial fire suppression activities of the companies to interior operations and quickly ordered a second alarm at 03:04hours.

Command was subsequently transferred to Deputy Chief Louis Stickel who ordered a third alarm struck due to fire extension twenty minutes later.

Suppression, ventilation and rescue operations were conducted with the fire under control when at 04:15 hours with without warning, it was reported the 3rd, 4th and 5th floors began to collapse with the brick masonry wall on the Henry Street side collapsing outward into the street. Ladder Company 8, a new 125 ft. aerial ladder, the largest in the United States at the time was buried in the timber and brick rubble and collapse pile. It was reported that as many of 43 firefighters in the street were injured as a result of the collapse.

 

Search, Rescue and Recovery Efforts

 

The arrival of Chief of Department Samuel Pope ordered fourth and fifth alarms. This brought Engine Companies 40, 9, 5, 11, 50, 8, 32, 6, 39, 3, 33, 12, 13, 38, 21, 35, 37, 20, 16, 10, 42, 51, 19; Ladder Companies 2, 31, 21, 8 and 3.

  • First Alarm: 02:27 hrs.
  • Second Alarm: 03:05 hrs.
  • Third Alarm: 03:24 hrs.
  • Fourth Alarm: 04:20 hrs.
  • Fifth Alarm: 04:35 hrs.

With both extensive interior and exterior collapse conditions with numerous trapped and injured firefighters, rescue efforts and medical assistance was being rendered by all fire service, military, hospital and civilian resources. Local Coast Guardsman were deployed to support the massive search and rescue efforts.

 

Rescue and Recovery

Six Boston Firefighters were killed in the line of duty as a result of the collapse, all of whom were conducting operations and working on the second floor with hose lines.

Supreme Sacrifice in the Line of Duty:

  • Hoseman John F. Foley, Engine Company 3
    • 57 years of age | 30 year veteran
  • Hoseman Edward F. Macomber, Engine Company 12
    • 47 years of age |24 year veteran
  • Hoseman Peter F. McMorrow, Engine Company 50
    • 45 years of age | 19 year veteran
  • Hoseman Francis J. Degan, Engine Company 3
    • 24 years of age |A 15 month veteran
  • Ladderman Daniel E. McGuire, Ladder Company 2
    • 44 years of age | 19 year veteran
  • Hoseman Malachi F. Reddington, Engine Company 33
    • 48 years of age | 19 year veteran

Post Requiem

The Department’s 125 foot “jinx” aerial ladder, reported to be the largest in the nation at that time, was standing beside the falling wall on Henry Street. It was buried in the wreckage. The ladder was originally purchased by the City of Somerville. They found upon delivery that it was too big for their firehouse. Boston bought it. The truck had a series of problems. (additional Story on the 1941 American La France 125′ metal aerial By William Noonan, HERE) Apparatus Info – See Bostonfirehistory.org HERE

Boston Ladder 8 1941 ALF 125 ft. Aerail Ladder Shop#207. Photo Courtesy BostonFireHistory.org

There was some speculation that due to the long ladder and wide bed, the large ladder might have caused the wall collapse. This theory was later ruled out. In fact, some of the firefighters who were on the ladder at the time of the collapse, credit the ladder bed with saving their lives. When the granite and debris began falling, they lay down in the bed and the rubble slid down over them to the street.

Many felt that this was the end to the ladder. But, it was repaired and returned to service in South Boston as Ladder 19. Tragedy would continue to haunt this piece of apparatus. On December 3, 1947, Ladder 19 was out of service conducting tests on its brakes when it overturned and rolled. Provisional Firefighter Joseph B. Sullivan, on the job for less than six months, was killed. The Department took the truck out of service and scrapped

Individuals Remembered

As with many of these incidents, the men involved came from different backgrounds and circumstances that put them on that second floor that fateful night.

Edward Macomber was the father of eight children and considered to be one of the best firefighters in the department according to his superior officers. He was a member of the department for 28 years, and had been injured while on duty more than seven times.

Francis Degan, at age 24 was one of the youngest members of the Boston Fire Department at the time. He had been on the job only 19 months prior to November 15th. His officers thought that the young fireman was well on his way to becoming an officer. Young Degan took great pride in being a firefighter and realized his life’s ambition when he was appointed to the department to follow in the footsteps of his father, who was attached to Ladder Company 1.

John Foley, a hoseman on Engine Company 3, had been a member of the department for more than 30 years. He was planning to retire in a short time. In a tragic case of irony , Firefighter Foley should have been on a day off at the time of the fire, but had changed his schedule in order to get some time off later.

World War 1 veteran Pete McMorrow was a bachelor member of Engine Company 50 and was loved by many of the school children of Charlestown. He had served in the Navy in the first war and was telling his closest pals that he might just be going back to serve again. At age 46, he had carried the colors of the Boston Fireman’s Post #94, American Legion, through downtown Boston. While trapped in the debris for eleven hours, McMorrow’s fellow company members crawled into the space where he lay to tell him to hang on and they’d get him out soon. Throughout the early morning and into the next day the rescue efforts continued. However, when they were finally able to get to McMorrow, it was too late.

This fire and the subsequent six firefighter line of duty deaths were overshadowed by the Cocoanut Grove Fire which occurred only 13 days later on November 28, 1942.

Video: Former Boston Fire Commissioner Paul Christian shares the story of the little-known Luongo fire as well as that of the 8-alarm Thanksgiving Day Fire of 1889. November has been a tragic month in Boston’s fire history. On November 15, 1942, a fire started in the back room of the Luongo Restaurant.

Collapse Scene from Maverick Square

 

Boston Fire Department 125 ft. Aerial Ladder on Henry Street Side

 

Rescue operations on Henry Street Side

 

Present sidewalk memorial marker

 

 

Aerial Image of current property block in East Boston (MA). Bing Maps Image

Historical Note: Three and a half story high, with granite faced and brick exterior walls, the interior wooden joisted building at the corner of Henry Street and Maverick Square in 1942 was one of the oldest buildings in East Boston. It was typical of mid 19th century Boston commercial construction. In accounts of the fire it is frequently referred to as “Old Armory Hall”. “Armory Hall” is the name by which it was known in the early years of the 20th century. That building however never was actually an armory as such. There once was an armory in East Boston. It was located at the corner of Maverick and Bremen Streets in a wooden building that preceded the still standing brick Overseers of the Public Welfare Building. The building in which the “Luongo Fire” occurred was built sometime before 1858. It was known originally as “Ritchie Hall” likely from the name of its owner.

 

Armory Hall Building is to the left of Photo – Circa 1910

 

Bromley Map Image Circa 1922

Sanborn Map Image Circa 1888

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Anatomy of a Collapse: Houston Southwest Inn http://buildingsonfire.com/anatomy-of-a-collapse-houston-southwest-inn Wed, 17 Dec 2014 01:21:09 +0000 http://buildingsonfire.com/?p=2569 BOF250x275

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Buildings on Fire Risk Assessment Matrix http://buildingsonfire.com/buildings-on-fire-risk-assessment-matrix http://buildingsonfire.com/buildings-on-fire-risk-assessment-matrix#respond Fri, 25 Oct 2013 13:59:07 +0000 http://buildingsonfire.com/?p=2501 Buildings on Fire Risk Assessment

Buildings on Fire Risk Assessment Matrix    Building Occupancy Risk Profiling

Reading the Building

The importance of understanding a building’s anatomy, its occupancy risk and compartment profile are integral to efficient and effective firefighting operations within buildings on fire and are essential for all phases of fire suppression and operational engagements.

Fundamental to these operations is the ability to accurately identify the building profile and predict how it will perform during the various stages of fire growth, correlated over time and throughout the fire suppression operational period.

Since the early 1950’s, the modern fire suppression performance model utilized in the U.S. Fire Service has continued to apply the referral of a building type and its occupancy classification to dictate presumptive performance and operational characteristics. Traditional Fireground operations have utilized this prescribed principle for decades, with great success.

Size-Up

First-due company and command arrivals typically define or establish prescribed strategic or tactical deployment methods based upon the predictability of fire ground and building performance indicators based up what the traditional size-up factors and indicators are being identified, perceived or assumed. Traditional sequenced and transitional size-up has been an established indispensable fireground task.

The importance of the size-up process: what is being assessed and processed, what is the level of importance of incoming indicators and information and what it means to the incident action plan and strategic and tactical process vary greatly and at times becomes superficial, minimized and non-descriptive to the point of being programmed.

I would be remised if I didn’t also evoke that there have been numerous examples of highly effective and value driven size-up practices established by organizations that have honed and developed methods, process and practices based on training and skill sets that establish this benchmark as an integral part of the fire suppression methodology model.

Notwithstanding, there are pronounced differences in the conduct of size-up from a company officer’s perspective than that of a command officer’s based upon the sequence of first-arrival. Each has distinct differences related to actions that must be considered based on incident Severity, Urgency or Growth (SUG) of the evolving incident conditions within the building and the incident actions plans (IAP) that must be formulated and implemented with regard for the continuum of time.

For example, size-up, risk assessment profiling and predictability of performance can vary greatly based on functionality and assignment. First-due engine company size-up and assessment may vary from that of the first-due truck/ladder company to that of the first-due commander or the safety officer size-up or that of the RIT/FAST Officer size-up. Protocols, risk focus areas, naturalistic decision-making attributes, situational awareness migration or drift may all influence what you are reading and interpreting when looking at the building upon arrival and as you phase into the sequence of operations.

There are numerous classic mnemonic systems that identify and address different size-up factors that can be used, which are widely referenced in strategy, tactics and incident management text books and manuals. These systems however, are no longer practical or applicable to today’s fireground, buildings, and fire dynamics and company level resource capabilities.  They require recalibration and updating to reflect leading or latent indicators, variables and considerations that better align with the built environment and fireground conditions.

Our focus isn’t on debating classical size-up factors or exploring the changes necessary for effective fireground risk assessment and incident action plan formulation, which is mandated by our current fireground challenges, but rather to focus on the mission critical attribute related to the building and the dynamics of fire within the compartment and effects on the structure during the conduct of fireground operations.

Building Performance

The identification, assessment, probability, predictability and intrinsic characteristics of the building and its expected performance under fire conditions must be identified, assessed and integrated into an adaptive fire management model and flexible incident action plan.

Slide1

Understanding Performance & Fire Operations

In other words, arriving companies and personnel at a structure fire need to be able to rapidly and accurately identify key elements of a building, process that data based upon a widening field of variables present on today’s evolving fireground and implement timely actions that address prioritized actions requiring intervention.   Deterministic fireground models for size-up and suppression have to give way to a more expandable stochastic model of assessment. Key to this is having a broad and well developed foundation of building knowledge.

Slide2

Fireground Attributes

 

The predictability of building performance (Naum 2005) must take into consideration that in the context of today’s fireground, buildings and fire dynamics, small changes on initial compartment or structure conditions may often produce and result in large scale or magnitude changes that affect the long term out come of the incident. Small differences may yield to widely diverging outcomes (the Butterfly Effect, Lorenz 1972).

The ability for the first arriving company, company officer or commander to perform an accurate identification of (a) building types and classifications are formulative towards anticipating variables in structural integrity and resiliency to the effects of extreme fire behavior, accelerated fire load package growth rates and intensity levels typically encountered in today’s composition and arrangement of buildings and their associated construction systems during initial and sustained fire suppression.

Slide3

Predictability of Performance

We have assumed that the routiness or successes of past operations and incident responses equates with predictability and diminished risk to our firefighting personnel. Our current generation of buildings, construction and occupancies are not as predictable as past construction systems, occupancies and building types; therefore the risk assessment and size-up process, and resulting strategies and tactics must adapt to address these evolving rules of combat structural fire engagement that challenge anecdotal practices and methodologies.

Today’s evolving fireground demands greater adaptive insights and management with an amplified understanding of buildings, occupancy risk profiling (ORP) and building anatomy by all operating companies on the fireground; demanding greater skill sets and knowledge of building construction, architecture, engineering, fire dynamics and fire suppression methodologies. The equation for success rests directly on Building Knowledge = Firefighter Safety.

Reading the Building

For incident deployments to a report of a structure fire, the single most important attribute that defines all phases of subsequent operations and incident management; is that of understanding the building.

An officer or commander’s skill set, comprehension and intellect in their ability to read a building is paramount towards identifying risks, conducting fluid assessment, probability, predictability and recognizing intrinsic characteristics of the building and its expected performance under fire conditions, which are essential toward development of an integrated and adaptive fire management model and flexible incident action plan.

 

Slide 01

Building Occupancy Risk Profiling

 

If you don’t know and understand the building, how can you identify and select appropriate strategies and tactics and have an integrate IAP suitable for the building and occupancy risks and predictability of performance?

It’s much more than just arriving on location, indentifying a single family wood frame residential, a three story brick or a five story fireproof or single URM commercial and stretching in and going to work.

Reading the building, understanding the building’s anatomy, its occupancy risk and compartment profile are integral to efficient and effective firefighting operations within buildings on fire and are essential for all subsequent phases of fire suppression and operational engagements.

Slide02

The Five Star CommandTM Model (Naum 2004) provides an integrated framework that the Adaptive Fireground Management system is based upon.  Furthermore it is an essential element in the methodologies in reading a building.

Five Star CommandTM is integrated around five fundamental core domains consisting of Building Anatomy, Risk Management, Human Performance, Safety Management and Command Management. Each of these five domains also has five points of excellence that are further integrated and share functionality. The Building Anatomy domain’s five points consist of;

Building Anatomy & Construction [Five Star CommandTM ]

  • Construction Systems
  • Occupancy Risk Profiling
  • Compromise and Collapse
  • Methods and Materials
  • Fire Dynamics

The following represents a brief overview of selective key operative elements that comprise the process and system of Reading the Building. They are provided in an abbreviated fashion as a primer of insights for some of the process elements and do not reflect the entire system or process.

They are provided to promote discussion and dialog and represent key focus areas of assessing and reading a building in order to identify systematic considerations, likelihood of occurrences and consequences related to key building features that are inherent to all building types and occupancies that must always be assessed that include;

Building System-Envelope

  • Roof System [RF]
  • Floor/Ceiling System [FL|CL]
  • Floor SystemFL]
  • Compartment [CP]
  • Perimeter Wall [PW]
  • Envelope Enclosure [EN]

Key operative elements of Reading the Building

 

Building Type Classifications

  • Type I  (or Class 1)  Fire Resistive construction
  • Type II  (or Class 2)  Non-Combustible construction
  • Type III (or Class 3)  Ordinary construction
  • Type IV (or Class 4)  Heavy Timber construction
  • Type V (or Class 5)  Wood Frame construction

These provide insights and have characteristics related to fire resistive ratings (hours) for Exterior Bearing Walls, Interior Bearing Walls, Columns, Beams, Girders, Trusses and Arches, Floor-Ceiling Assemblies, Roof-Ceiling Assemblies, Interior Nonbearing Walls and Exterior Nonbearing Walls and also provides a comparison of similar types of construction derived from various model building codes.

 

Building Anatomy & Construction

Construction  Systems

Heritage Construction (HC)

  • Pre-1900

Legacy Construction (LC)

  • 1900-1949

Conventional Construction (CC)

  • 1950-1979

Engineered Structural Systems (ESS)

  • 1980-2000           Type 1
  • 2001-current       Type 2

Integrated Hybrid Construction Systems (IHS)

  • 2002- current …

Composite Engineered Construction Systems (CES)

  • 2010 – current …

 

Integrated into the categorization of Building Anatomy & Construction system profiles are inherent characteristics, features, process, form and function that define the buildings anatomical and operational enhancements or detriments that will influence operational actions of the fireground.

 Slide03

 

 

Building and Operational Risk Probability

  • Risk Assessment-Command Engagement [RACE]
  • Risk Assessment-Tactical Engagement [RATE]

 

  • Catastrophic Risk:  
    • May Result in personnel Death; grave personnel injury; large scale destruction and perilous conditions
  • Critical Risk:  
    • May cause severe personnel injury, possible death; major property loss or significant degraded conditions
  • Marginal Risk:
    • May cause or result in personnel injury, prominent property loss or degraded and compromised conditions
  • Normal Risk:
    • Hazards and conditions are consistent with generally accepted Fire Service work practices and operational parameters for adequately resourced and trained companies. Operations may cause or result in some personnel injury, corresponding property loss or damage conditions consist with firefighting principle & practices
  • Negligible Risk:  
    • Conditions have minimal threat to the safety and wellbeing of companies operating under generally accepted Fire Service work practices and parameters

 Slide04

 

  • Unlikely: Unlikely to Occur
  • Seldom: Not likely to occur, but a possible
  • Occasional: May occur under normal operational time
  • Likely: Quite Likely to Occur during operational time
  • Frequent: Likely to occur immediately or in short operational time period ; Expected to occur frequently

 Slide05

 

 

Occupancy Risk  Profiling

  • Occupancy Type
    • Single Family Residential
    • Multiple Occupancy
    • MO-Transient
    • MO-Special
    • Business
    • Mercantile
    • Industrial
    • Storage
    • Assembly
    • Institutional
    • Miscellaneous
    • Other

 

  • Occupancy Use
    • Under Construction
    • In Use
    • Idle, not routinely used
    • Under Major Renovation
    • Deconstruction
    • Alteration/Renovation
    • Vacant & Secured
    • Vacant & Unsecured
    • Being Demolished
    • Other
    • Undetermined

 

  • Occupancy Load
    • Number and Location
    • Mobility, Distress or Incapacitated
    • Accessibility

 

  • Occupancy Risk
    • Volume and Area
      • Type 1      ≤ 2000 SF
      • Type 2      2100-4000 SF
      • Type 3      4000-6000 SF
      • Type 4      6000-8000 SF
      • Type 5      8000-10000 SF
      • Type 6      10000-15000 SF
      • Type 7      15000-20000 SF

 

 

  • Compartmentation
    • Open
    • Closed
    • Connective
    • Accessible

 

  • Condition
    • New
    • Aged
    • Deteriorated
    • Compromised
    • Dilapidated
    • Marginal
    • Unsafe

 

  • Compromise and  Collapse           
  • Collapse Risk
    • Unlikely: Unlikely to Occur
    • Seldom: Not likely to occur, but a possible
    • Occasional: May occur under normal operational time
    • Likely: Quite Likely to Occur during operational time
    • Frequent: Likely to occur immediately or in short operational time period ; Expected to occur frequently
    • Systems
      • Roof [RF]
      • Floor/Ceiling [FL|CL]
      • Floor [FL]
      • Compartment [CP]
      • Perimeter Wall [PW]
      • Enclosure [EN]
    • Compromise Risks
      • Unlikely: Unlikely to Occur
      • Seldom: Not likely to occur, but a possible
      • Occasional: May occur under normal operational time
      • Likely: Quite Likely to Occur during operational time
      • Frequent: Likely to occur immediately or in short operational time period ; Expected to occur frequently
    • Inherent Collapse /Compromise
    • Isolated Collapse /Compromise
    • Catastrophic Collapse/Compromise
    • Collapse Zones
      • Internal
      • External [Perimeter Wall]

 

  • Methods and Materials
  • Resistance
  • Resiliency
  • Integrity
  • Modular
  • Monolithic
  • Time Impacts

 

 Slide06

 

 

 Slide07

 

  • Fire Dynamics
  • Fire Dynamic Profiling
    • Type 1 Behavior
    • Type 2 Growth (Fire Load Package)
    • Type 3 Propagation
    • Type 4 Severity (HRR)
    • Type 5 Intensity
    • Type 6 Connectivity
    • Movement
    • Proximity

 

 

Slide08

Predictability of Performance

  • Building
  • Compartment
  • Company

The increasing variables related to building construction, design, materials and methods of construction, process and workmanship, occupancy types, risks, compartment characteristics, functionality and use, fire behavior, adaption, renovation, age and deterioration coupled with the continuous evolving fire suppression capabilities of a department and agency demands new process and systems that align with current and future operational fireground demands providing a readily accessible and retrievable  process that adds value in the performance and conduct of critical steps in the management and suppression of a structure fire in a building and occupancy.

The evolving and rapidly changing dynamics of building structures and occupancies both in terms of new construction as well as the renovation and adaptive reuse of older buildings and occupancies are self revealing that suggests alternatives and improvements in what and how we view a building now and how we can better read them in the future to take advantage of information that can be presumed, predicted or known.

Providing a new order in identification and assertion, with the predictability of building and occupancy performance during fire suppression operations may provide the edge we need in the challenges faced on today’s evolving, adaptive and risked induced fire ground.  We just need to read the building with clarity and knowledge.

Sldie06

 

 

 

Buildings on Fire Risk Assessment Matrix

Buildings on Fire Risk Assessment

Buildings on Fire Risk Assessment

Buildings on Fire Risk Assessment Matrix    Building Occupancy Risk Profiling

 

Slide 01

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NIOSH LODD REPORT: Career Lieutenant and Fire Fighter Killed and Two Fire Fighters Injured by Wall Collapse at a Large Commercial Structure Fire – Pennsylvania http://buildingsonfire.com/niosh-lodd-report-career-lieutenant-and-fire-fighter-killed-and-two-fire-fighters-injured-by-wall-collapse-at-a-large-commercial-structure-fire-pennsylvania http://buildingsonfire.com/niosh-lodd-report-career-lieutenant-and-fire-fighter-killed-and-two-fire-fighters-injured-by-wall-collapse-at-a-large-commercial-structure-fire-pennsylvania#respond Thu, 01 Aug 2013 03:02:26 +0000 http://buildingsonfire.com/?p=2495 BostonStreetCollapseZoneF2012-13 NIOSH LODD REPORT: Career Lieutenant and Fire Fighter Killed and Two Fire Fighters Injured by Wall Collapse at a Large Commercial Structure Fire – Pennsylvania

FIRE FIGHTER FATALITY INVESTIGATION AND PREVENTION PROGRAM

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Reports

 

  • Anatomy of a Collapse: Building Construction and Collapse Safety Considerations for NIOSH Report F2012-13

  • (documents, PDF and Multimedia Files area available)

  • Operational Safety at Buildings of Heavy Timber, Mill and Ordinary Construction

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Taking to the Streets San Diego http://buildingsonfire.com/taking-to-the-streets-san-diego http://buildingsonfire.com/taking-to-the-streets-san-diego#respond Sat, 16 Feb 2013 14:55:58 +0000 http://buildingsonfire.com/?p=2489 Reference Data

StreetHandout_Naum

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Expanding Use of Plastic Insulation http://buildingsonfire.com/expanding-use-of-plastic-insulation http://buildingsonfire.com/expanding-use-of-plastic-insulation#respond Fri, 09 Nov 2012 21:59:50 +0000 http://buildingsonfire.com/?p=2464 Foam Sheathing Makers Gain Major Success at ICC Code Hearing By Approval of Proposal Expanding Use of Plastic Insulation

The Foam Sheathing Committee (FSC) of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), through an industry effort, achieved an important change in gaining broad acceptance of a performance-based standard for the use of foam insulation products in all code complying commercial applications during the recent International Building Code (IBC) Final Action Hearings in Portland, Oregon. The International Code Council (ICC) approved for inclusion in the 2015 International Building Codes the Structural Building Components Association’s (SBCA) FS 100-2012: Standard Requirements for Wind Pressure Resistance and Foam Plastic Insulating Sheathing Used in Exterior Wall Covering Assemblies

This is an important development as this standard was just recently approved by the American National Standards Institute. Inclusion of this standard in the 2015 edition of the IBC was unusually quick and efficient due to the hard work by industry to create the needed consensus. This standard will set a solid performance foundation for foam plastic insulating sheathing (FPIS) products and expand the use of these products where wind pressure resistance requirements in commercial construction have been constrained in the past. This will help architects, engineers, and builders use FPIS products such as continuous insulation in exterior wall covering assemblies to meet the energy efficiency demands of the International Energy Conservation Code while also meeting all the requirements for wind pressure performance. 

This technical standard is important for designers, builders and, ultimately, the public in establishing structural resistance due to wind pressure and quality control requirements that substantiate full code compliance for FPIS products. 

Responding to this development, Greg Bergtold, Chairman of the ACC-FSC stated, “This is a significant outcome that will expand the proper use of foam sheathing products in commercial construction and demonstrates industry’s effectiveness in finding solutions when working together.”

This code change is the result of hard work from a range of stakeholders to demonstrate the technical basis for FPIS products in wall assemblies led by Jay Crandell, P.E., technical consultant for the ACC’s FSC, with support from members of the FS 100 Project Committee, builders, building officials, fastener companies, the insurance industry and the forest products industry. This is a significant development in support of FSC’s mission to create positive and proactive solutions to enhance safety through the building codes and promote the proper use and installation of foam sheathing in the construction industry.

The Foam Sheathing Committee (FSC) of the American Chemistry Council focuses on developing solutions to building code issues, in close coordination with ACC’s Plastics Building and Construction Team and ACC’s Center for the Polyurethanes Industry, and promoting the sound technical use of foam sheathing to the construction industry.

Members:

FSC’s primary membership base is manufacturers of rigid plastic cellular foam insulation products including expanded polystyrene (EPS), extruded polystyrene (XPS), and polyisocyanurate or polyiso (PIR).

Technical Resources:

With the support of members and aligned industry groups, FSC is pleased to offer a wealth of technical resources on foam sheathing, including properties, applications, installation, and building and energy code considerations.

Learn More:

 

Construction Details; HERE

From THEGREENMALTESE.com (HERE)
Posted on November 7, 2012

Why  is Foam Sheathing Insulation being used more than ever before?

Residential housing design continues to move towards the development of high performance sustainable building systems. To be sustainable, a building must not only be efficient and durable but also economically viable. From this, new methods of enclosure design have been examined that provide high thermal performance and long-term durability but also take opportunities to reduce material use (including waste), simplify or integrate systems and details, and potentially reduce overall initial costs of construction.

One concept relating to enclosure design is to incorporate the use exterior foam insulating sheathing into the construction of the wall assembly. As with any building enclosure system, appropriate detailing for the management of water, vapor, and energy transfer are necessary.

Foam Material Properties:

There are three main types of insulating sheathing currently being used in the industry: Expanded

Polystyrene (EPS), Extruded Polystyrene (XPS), and Polyisocyanurate (Polyiso).

Each of these products all has a different set of physical properties that will affect the dynamic of the wall assemblies in regards to the transmission and management of heat and moisture.

Types of Foam

Insulating foam sheathings are split into two basic categories: 1) thermoplastics, 2) thermosets. Both EPS and XPS foams are thermoplastic foams, while Polyisocyanurate is a thermoset foam.

Thermoplastics

Thermoplastics are based on linear or slightly branched (non-cross linked) polymers. These foams have a definite melting range and will soften and melt at elevated temperatures. They are also more prone to react and degrade when in contact with some organic solvents as found in some paints, adhesives, and fuels.

 Therefore it is important to only use manufacturer approved compatible materials when using thermoplastic foams.

Of the thermoplastic foams, EPS and XPS are the most common used in the industry. Both products are based on polystyrene resin and are considered to be closed cell.

The manufacturing of EPS involves the expanding of polystyrene beads to fill a mold. The densities of EPS foam can be varied if desired. Increased density results in increased thermal resistance and compressive strength. The density of the product also affects the vapor transmission. While EPS is a closed cell foam (slow water vapor and air transmission through the cell walls), the gaps between the cells will still allow for moisture to pass through the matrix. With increased density, these spaces are reduced and the ability of the foam to allow water transmission is reduced.

XPS foams are formed by mixing molten polystyrene with a blowing agent at the correct time, at an elevated temperature, and at an elevated pressure and then extruding the foam through a die to the atmosphere. This creates a more regular cell structure providing for better strength properties and higher water resistance that EPS foams. The density of XPS foams can also be varied, allowing for increased compressive strength, however due to the more regular cell structure, this has little to no effect on the vapor transmission properties.

Thermosets

Thermoset plastics are based on cross linked polymers. This will allow thermoset plastics to be used for higher temperature applications as they do not usually exhibit a melting range and will instead char and burn. Thermoset foams are also generally more resistant to solvents and chemicals.

The most common thermoset foam on the market is polyisocyanurate. While traditional polyurethane foams were created by reacting isocyanate with polyol (and other blowing agents, catalysts, and surfactants) polyisocyanurate foams can theoretically be created with no polyol, using only isocyanate reacting with itself (and other blowing agents, catalysts, and surfactants). In general though, commercial polyisocyanurate foam used in the market is really polyurethane foam modified with polyisocyanurate or a “blend” of the two foams. The use of the blend increases the fire resistance while maintaining the thermal resistance and strength of the material.

Additional Information:

Foam Plastic Insulating Sheathing Comparison of Fire Performance Link:

http://fsc.americanchemistry.com/Exterior-Walls/Continuous-Insulation-Educational-Presentation.pdf

ANSI/SBCA FS 100 – 2012

 

 

 

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Simply SIPs http://buildingsonfire.com/simply-sips http://buildingsonfire.com/simply-sips#respond Fri, 09 Nov 2012 21:37:24 +0000 http://buildingsonfire.com/?p=2458 On the surface, a structural insulated panel (SIP) looks quite humble, resembling little more than an oversized ice cream sandwich. However, the engineered building product—which comprises little more than an insulating foam core adhered to two structural facers—can be the key for any architect looking to build a high-performance project on a tight schedule. And, in many cases, a designer doesn’t have to sacrifice aesthetics in favor of efficiency.

Like an ice cream sandwich, a SIP can come in many “flavors,” the most common of which combines an expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation core between two layers of oriented strand board (OSB). Variants include extruded polystyrene or rigid polyurethane insulation for the core, and plywood, precast concrete, or magnesium board for the structural facers.

The system hit the commercial building market in the 1970s when SIP manufacturers began promoting their product as an alternative to standard dimensional lumber framing, primarily for the residential market in the Northeast.

SIPs can simplify and expedite the building-erection process by supplanting traditional dimensional lumber framing and fiberglass insulation with a prefabricated, all-in-one panel. Assembled under controlled factory conditions where waste can be greatly minimized, SIPs are manufactured as completely flat systems that are void of the bends and bows that can encumber wood studs. The panels, capable of handling about 10 pounds per square foot (psf) of dead loads and live loads of up to 70 psf, can also be used in roofs and floors, spanning as much as 18 feet without the need for additional structural support.

In spite of these benefits, SIPs have not made significant headway into the framing market. Lumber has remained relatively cheap—between $15 and $30 per square foot—and framers aren’t all that expensive either.

Typical SIP configuratoin

Full article, HERE

 

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Near-Miss, with RIT Deployment at Structural Collapse: Canada http://buildingsonfire.com/near-miss-with-rit-deployment-at-structural-collapse-canada http://buildingsonfire.com/near-miss-with-rit-deployment-at-structural-collapse-canada#respond Wed, 07 Nov 2012 04:27:57 +0000 http://buildingsonfire.com/?p=2438 A rapid and fast moving early morning fire in downtown Trenton, Ontario Canada resulted in the subsequent collapse of a three story mixed use commerical and apartment occupancy structure. Published media reports indicated the building was over 130 years of age and was in operation as an adult entertainment establishment on the lower level with multiple occupancy use apartments on the upper floors. The fire displaced 12 residents. The commercial portion of the building on the number one floor was not operating at the time of the alarm.

For a complete overview of the general fire, refer to the links below for the media links.

Two firefighters were nearly trapped while engaged in primary search and rescue operations as the fire conditions deteriorated and compromise and collapse conditions began to collapse the wood frame structure.

Pre-incident images clearly depict the typical building profile of a heritage type structure of the late 1880’s vintage with it’s sloping roof profile and window treatments that are evident on both the bravo and delta divisions (many with window mounted air conditioning units that constitute a collapse risk to operating companies on the ground perimeter) . As with many buildings in urban areas, the exterior envelope has been renovated in a manner that added an exterior metal clad panel system that is typically mechanically fastened directly to the facade or to a sub-assembly fastening system. This in effect covers the buildings originating facade, building materials and structural and cosmetic conditions.

Common to original building construction and layouts, the alpha division shows the manner in which the first floor wall has been modified with no indication of window locations and conditions in the upper floors. Common to this renovation technique is the placement of the metal facade directly over existing window openings and framing systems, resulting in either boarded and elimination of the window or the fames and glass still present within the interior room compartments compounding search and rescue assignments.

Sherwood Forest Inn, Image from Google Street View

The metal exterior cladding masks the ability for arriving companies to identify if the structure is wood frame Type V, ordinary Type III or Brace Frame construction. The profile and charactoristics of this building profile suggests a buidling of Type III Ordinary construction ( Brick and jost) with load bearing masony construction. This is not the case in this structure as fireground photos further depicted. The various fireground photos suggest that this was a wood frame structure with wood exterior sheathing with some brick masonry features applied to the alpha division. The building envelope is encased in a sheet metal panel cladding system attached the perimeter facade.

 

Delta Division, Google Street View Image

Image above shows the degree of interior fire involvement and smoke density. The sheet metal cladding that was applied to the surface facade masks the ability to monitor wall degradation and compromise, retains heat within the building envelope and has independent collapse considerations based upon the manner it is atached to the outer facade further compounding the structural integrity of the buildings wall envelope. Photo by Step Crosier.

In incidents taht have building profiles such as this, conservative risk management, establishment of primary and secondary collapse perimeters along the various divisions is imperative for firefighter safety and apparatus operabilty.

Collapse and failure of the primary structural support systems affecting both interior and exterior structural and infill systems. Photo by Marc Venema

The image above shows the extent of collapse. Look at the various construction features consisting of the original wood plank sheathing, brick facade work, wood framing system and the retrofitted metal paneling facade.

  • How would you Read the Building based upon the pre incident photos shown at the being of this post?
  • Would you assume the building was a type III or IV structure or a wood frame or brace frame structure?
  • Does each building system have a different bearing on fireground operations, strategies, tactics and operational integrity and company and personnal safety?
  • How much operatoinal time do you have for a primary search and rescue assignment or for deployment and effective location of a fire seat and application of hose streams before you developing compromising conditions with the interior compartments?

 

Look at the brick veneer added to the wood sheathing covered by the metal panels in this image. Photo by Steph Crosier

 

 

 

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Examining Firefighting Tactics under Wind Driven Conditions http://buildingsonfire.com/examining-firefighting-tactics-under-wind-driven-conditions http://buildingsonfire.com/examining-firefighting-tactics-under-wind-driven-conditions#respond Sat, 03 Nov 2012 20:41:56 +0000 http://buildingsonfire.com/?p=2435

Smoke and heat spreading through the corridors and the stairs of a building during a fire can limit building occupants’ ability to escape and can limit firefighters’ ability to rescue them. Changes in the building’s ventilation or presence of an external wind can increase the energy release of the fire. This can also increase the spread of fire gases through the building.

Positive Pressure Ventilation (PPV) is being used by fire departments on smaller structures, such as single family homes, to control the fire flow by introducing pressure from the front door and venting the house through a strategic exit opening. If done correctly, this tactic can remove significant amounts of heat and smoke from the structure, thus improving the firefighters’ working environment and improving the chances of survival for the building occupants. However, it is questionable whether these PPV fans can be used successfully under wind driven fire conditions in large structures. Large structures, such as high rise buildings, provide additional challenges to firefighter and building occupant safety such as increased travel distance (exposure time), more complicated egress path, and potentially larger fires. Other tactics incorporating devices, such as fire window blankets or smoke curtains to control the ventilation conditions or the use of a special fire nozzle from the floor below the fire floor, have been tried by the fire service under “real fire” conditions with varying levels of success. Unfortunately, there has been no data to understand the capabilities and limitations of these firefighting approaches.

The U.S. Fire Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), along with the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, the Fire Department of New York City, and the Chicago Fire Department, conducted this project to improve the safety of firefighters and building occupants by enabling a better understanding of wind driven fire fighting tactics, including structural ventilation and suppression. Further objectives included developing technical information that will enhance the understanding of the dynamics of fire phenomena and prediction of fire intensity and growth under wind driven conditions. Fire departments that wish to implement the tactics evaluated in this study will need to develop training and determine appropriate methods for deploying these tactics. Variations in the methods of deployment may be required due to differences in staffing, equipment, building stock, and typical weather conditions. There is uniformity, however, in the physics behind the wind driven fire condition condition and the principles of the tactics examined. The data from this research will help provide the science to identify methods and promulgation of improved standard operating guidelines for the fire service to enhance firefighter safety, fire ground operations, and use of equipment.

Evaluating Firefighting Tactics under Wind Driven Fire Conditions (DVD set)

This instructional DVD set contains the two reports mentioned below and videos from all of the project’s experiments. It also includes a video presentation, wind driven fire condition During this dynamic presentation, Battalion Chief Jerry Tracy of the Fire Department of New York City, Battalion Chief Peter Van Dorpe of the Chicago Fire Department, Stephen Kerber and Dan Madryzkowski, both of NIST, provide an overview of the important wind driven research material.

Firefighting Tactics under Wind Driven Conditions: Laboratory Experiments

The first report, Fire Fighting Tactics under Wind Driven Conditions: Laboratory Experiments, documents the results from eight laboratory fire experiments that examined the impact of wind on fire spread through a multi-room structure and examined the capabilities of wind-control devices (WCD) and externally applied water to mitigate the hazard. The experiments were designed to expose a public corridor area to a wind driven, post-flashover apartment fire (the door from the apartment to the corridor was open for each of the experiments). The conditions in the corridor are of critical importance because that is the portion of the building that firefighters would use to approach the fire apartment or that occupants from an adjoining apartment would use to exit the building.

In summary, these experiments demonstrated the hazardous thermal conditions that can be generated by a “simple room and contents” fire and how these conditions can be extended along a flow path within a structure when a wind condition and an open vent are present. Two potential tactics, use of a WCD from the floor above the fire and external water application from the floor below the fire, were shown to be effective in reducing the thermal hazard in the corridor.

Firefighting Tactics under Wind Driven Fire Conditions: 7-Story Building Experiments

This second report, Fire Fighting Tactics under Wind Driven Fire Conditions: 7-Story Building Experiments, documents a series of 14 experiments that were conducted in a 7-story building to evaluate the ability of PPV fans, WCDs and external water application with floor below nozzles to mitigate the hazards of a wind driven fire in a structure. The results of the experiments provide a baseline for the hazards associated with a wind driven fire and the impact of pressure, ventilation and flow paths within a structure. During the experiments, wind created conditions that rapidly caused the environment in the structure to deteriorate by forcing fire gases through the apartment of origin and into the public corridor and stairwell. These conditions would be untenable for advancing firefighters. Each of the firefighting tactics evaluated during the experiments was able to reduce the thermal hazard created by the wind driven fire. In addition, multiple tactics used in conjunction with each other were very effective at improving conditions for firefighter operations and occupant egress.

From the USFA web site: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fireservice/ops_tactics/firefighting/wind_driven/

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Nothing is Ever Routine: Residential Fire-Chicago LODD http://buildingsonfire.com/nothing-is-ever-routine-residential-fire-chicago-lodd http://buildingsonfire.com/nothing-is-ever-routine-residential-fire-chicago-lodd#respond Sat, 03 Nov 2012 19:36:00 +0000 http://buildingsonfire.com/?p=2430  

Terrence Antonio James, Chicago Tribune

 

Nothing is ever routine;…… pause to reflect and remember the demands of the job and the inherent risks and the sacrifices made each and every day in this noble profession of the fire service.

Another beloved brother firefighter’s sacrifice, protecting the citizens of his great city.

Chicago Captain Herbert Johnson, 54, suffered second- and third-degree burns during fire suppression operations being conducted in the attic of the residential house at 2315 West 50th Place, according to Chicago FD officials and published media reports. The 32-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department died Friday night after he and another firefighter were injured in a blaze that spread quickly through the 2-1/2 story wood frame house. The second firefighter injured was reported in good condition at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to a department spokeswoman.

Captain Johnson, was promoted from lieutenant this summer and was assigned to Engine Co. 123 in Back of the Yards Section of Chicago for the night tour but normally worked all around the city.

Companies were called to the 2-1/2-story wood frame house at 17:15 hours on Friday evening. During initial fire suppression operations, a mayday for a trapped firefighter was communicated around 17:30 hours. Immediate RIT and rescue deployments brought the Captain and the other firefighter out of the structure.

Research identifies the residential occupancy building as being built in 1896 (age 116 years) and constructed of a common balloon framing system (type V wood) with a wood gable roofing system. Published photographs suggests that both original wood sheathing and shinges were present with some new outer sheathing materials being added and renovated at some point with some OSB type sheathing installed with rigid insulation boards and an outer vinyl siding system. Records indicate the house was approximately 2000 square feet in size and measured approximately 20 ft. x 60 ft. County documents indicated the roofing system was an asphalt shinge system on a wood plank deck. Post event photopraphs depict the typical framing system components, wall and roof system and collapsed materials.

The firefighters may have been caught in a flashover within the attic compartment according to early reports according to reports from department spokesman Larry Langford. “This fire is under investigation, and our main concern right now is the family,” said Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago, Santiago was joined at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where Johnson died in the emergency room, by officials including Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Captain Johnson was the first Chicago firefighter killed fighting a fire since two firefighters, FF Edward Stringer and FF Corey Ankum died battling a blaze at an abandoned South Shore laundry in December 2010. (see previous CommandSafety.com coverage HERE and HERE)

Published reports poignantly stated the following;

“On behalf of the people of the City of Chicago, I want to express my condolences to the family and friends of Chicago Fire Department Captain Herbert Johnson, who tragically paid the ultimate sacrifice while battling a blaze early this evening,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a written statement. “As we mourn Captain Johnson, we are all reminded of the dangerous job and selfless work of our brave firefighters. Being a firefighter is not simply a job, but a call to serve the public and greater good. In his 32 years protecting Chicago, Captain Johnson certainly exemplified the best traits in firefighters everywhere.”

 

Chicago ABC 7 News

 

Division A Streetside Photo by Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

 

Division A, Street View Typical 2.5 story Wood Frame Residential – Google Street Maps.

 

“On behalf of the people of the City of Chicago, I want to express my condolences to the family and friends of Chicago Fire Department Captain Herbert Johnson, who tragically paid the ultimate sacrifice while battling a blaze early this evening,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a written statement.

“As we mourn Captain Johnson, we are all reminded of the dangerous job and selfless work of our brave firefighters. Being a firefighter is not simply a job, but a call to serve the public and greater good. ”

“In his 32 years protecting Chicago, Captain Johnson certainly exemplified the best traits in firefighters everywhere.”

 

Chicago firefighter Herbert Johnson, left, poses with Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago, right, after Johnson was promoted to the rank of captain. Johnson died from injuries sustained while fighting a house fire on the South Side. — Chicago Fire Department

Readings and Learnings

Additional Coverage and Links

  • From Chicago WGNTV, HERE
  • From the Chicago Tribune, HERE and HERE
  • From the Chicago Sun Times, HERE
  • Photo Gallery from the Sun-Times, HERE
  • Photo Gallery from the Chicago Tribune, HERE
  • Aerial Fireground Operations, Chicago ABC 7 News, HERE
  • Google Maps; StreetView Images, HERE
  • Chicago CBS, HERE

 

Construction Insights for Typical Gabled Roof Attic with enclosed knee wall voids (typical examples) Occupied or Storage Attic Space Enclosure

  • Common attic spaces in buildings constructed of balloon framing systems may have the presence of knee wall voids or may have open ridge to eave
    clear space.
  • Knee wall spaces may be open to the compartment or may be enclosed and used for storage resulting in significant concentrated fire load. Inherent travel paths for fire due to non-fire stopped voids at the wall/eave interface results in concentrated fire impingement and degradation that can lead to isolated or catastrophic system failure and assembly collapse.
  • Age deterioration over many decades will commonly affect the structural integrity of the collar beams to maintain the structural stability of the roofing rafter system in the attic space. Renovations and alterations may also create operational risk hazards for conducting operations within fire induced attic compartments due to the absence of collar beams that further create unstable structural conditions to flame or heat affected roof components and systems.
 
 

Typical Enclosed Attic Voids and Kneewalls

 

 

 

Common Rafter Roof Framing Details- Buildingsonfire.com

 

Common Rafter Roof Framing Details- Buildingsonfire.com

Common Wood Gable Rafter Framing System- Buildingsonfire.com

Typcial Balloon Framing System with Gable Rafter Roof Framing- Buildingsonfire.com

 

Don’t neglect to be observant of construction features in contemporary construction such as this attic in a modular prefabricated residential house. Photo by CJ Naum

 

John J. Kim, Chicago Tribune

 

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Engineering Ground Zero http://buildingsonfire.com/engineering-ground-zero http://buildingsonfire.com/engineering-ground-zero#respond Mon, 10 Sep 2012 23:56:24 +0000 http://buildingsonfire.com/?p=2418 To commemorate the anniversary of 9/11, NOVA presented  an epic story of engineering, innovation, and the perseverance of the human spirit. With extraordinary access granted by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, “Engineering Ground Zero” follows the five-year construction of One World Trade Center (1 WTC) and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. This is an encore presentation originally aired on 09/07/2011.

NOVA captures the behind-the-scenes struggle of architects and engineers to make the buildings safe and highly secure under the pressures of a tight schedule, the demands of practical office space and efficient “green” architecture, and the public’s expectations of a fitting site for national remembrance. The program features interviews with 1 WTC architect David Childs; Chris Ward, the Port Authority’s executive director; Mayor Michael Bloomberg, chairman of the 9/11 Memorial Foundation; and Michael Arad, the man behind the breakthrough concept for the 9/11 Memorial.

 
Watch the Program
Watch the entire program online now.

Reflections on the 9/11 Memorial
Visitors to the 9/11 Memorial share their impressions.

 

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Predictability and Performance Of Buildings and Today’s Fireground http://buildingsonfire.com/predictability-and-performance-of-buildings-and-todays-fireground http://buildingsonfire.com/predictability-and-performance-of-buildings-and-todays-fireground#respond Sun, 09 Sep 2012 21:52:18 +0000 http://buildingsonfire.com/?p=2407

Understanding the distinctiveness of your first-due, mutual aid or greater-alarm response area requires constant vigilance and continuous observations. Building knowledge equals firefighter safety. Photo By CJ Naum

 

When we look at various buildings and occupancies, past operations (good and bad) give us experience that defines and determines how we assess, react and expect similar structures and occupancies to perform at a given alarm. The “art and science of firefighting” is predicated on a fundamental understanding of how fire affects a building and its occupants and the manner in which the fire service engages when called on to combat a structure fire.

We have certain expectations that fire will travel in a defined, predictable manner:

  • That the building will react and perform under assumptions of past performance and outcomes
  • That fire will hold within a room and compartment for a predictable duration
  • That the fire load and related fire flows required will be appropriate for an expected size and severity of fire encountered within a given building, occupancy or structural system
  • That we can safely and effectively mitigate a fire in any given building type and occupancy
  • That we will have the time to conduct the required tasks identified to be of importance based on identified or assumed indicators
  • That the building will conform to the rules of firefighting engagement

Times have changed

Today’s incident demands on the fireground are unlike those of even the recent past. This means incident commanders, commanding and company officers and firefighters alike must have increased technical knowledge of building construction with a heightened sensitivity of fire behavior and fire dynamics, a focus on operational structural stability of the compartment and building envelope and considerations related to occupancy risk versus the occupancy type. Understanding the building – its complexities in terms of anatomy, structural systems, materials, configuration, design, layout, systems, methods of construction, engineering and inherent features, limitations, challenges and risks – is fundamental for operational excellence on the fireground and firefighter safety.

There is an immediate need for emerging and operating command and company officers to increase their knowledge and insights of modern building occupancy, building construction and fire protection engineering and to modify traditional and conventional strategic operating profiles in order to safeguard companies, personnel and team compositions. Strategies and tactics must have the combined adequacy of sufficient staffing, fire flow and tactical patience orchestrated in a manner that identifies with the fire profiling, predictability of the occupancy and the building that accounts for presumptive fire behavior.

We used to discern with a measured degree of predictability how buildings would perform and fail under most fire conditions. Implementing fundamentals of firefighting operations built on decades of time-tested and experience-proven strategies and tactics continues to be the model of suppression operations. These same fundamental strategies continue to drive methodologies and curriculums in current training programs and academy instruction.

We must maintain a balance with learning about old and new building construction. A renewed focus on Type III, Ordinary /Protected construction and Type IV Heavy Timber must be incorporated within initial, in-service and periodic training and drills. Recent firefighter LODD events in these building types reinforces this need and gap. Photo By CJ Naum

Increasing company and command officer competencies in Building Anatomy, structural systems and how buildings are built and affected by fire behavior is fundamental to effective fireground operations. Interdependent structural components are evident for wall, floor and support assemblies in this Type IV occupancy. Do you know the inherent collapse potential of these buildings? Photos by CJ Naum

We must maintain a balance with learning about old and new building construction. A renewed focus on Type III, Ordinary /Protected construction and Type IV Heavy Timber must be incorporated within initial, in-service and periodic training and drills. Recent firefighter LODD events in these building types reinforces this need and gap. Photo By CJ Naum

Increasing company and command officer competencies in Building Anatomy, structural systems and how buildings are built and affected by fire behavior is fundamental to effective fireground operations. Interdependent structural components are evident for wall, floor and support assemblies in this Type IV occupancy. Do you know the inherent collapse potential of these buildings? Photos by CJ Naum

 

We have assumed that the routiness or successes of past operations and incident responses equates with predictability and diminished risk to our firefighting personnel. Photo By CJ Naum

  

Our current generation of buildings, construction and occupancies are not as predictable as past conventional construction, therefore risk assessment, strategies and tactics must change to address these new rules of combat structural fire engagement. Photo by CJ Naum

Executing tactical plans based on faulty or inaccurate strategic insights and indicators has proven to be a common apparent cause in numerous case studies, after-action accounts and firefighter line-of-duty-death reports. Our years of predictable fireground experience have ultimately embedded and clouded our ability to predict, assess, plan and implement Incident Action Plans (IAPs).

The demands of modern firefighting will continue to require the placement of personnel in situations and buildings that carry risk, uncertainty and inherent danger. As a result, risk management must become fluid and integrated with intelligent tactical deployments and operations.

Managing Risk

“If you don’t fully understand how a building truly performs or reacts under fire conditions and the variables that can influence its stability and degradation, movement of fire and products of combustion and the resource requirements for smart aggressive fire suppression in terms of staffing, apparatus and required fire flows, then you will be functioning and operating in a reactionary manner that is no longer acceptable within many of our modern building types, occupancies and structures. This places higher risk to your personnel and lessens the likelihood for effective, efficient and safe operations. You’re just not doing your job effectively and you’re at risk. These risks can equate into insurmountable operational challenges and could lead to adverse incident outcomes. Someone could get hurt, someone could die; it’s that simple, it’s that obvious.”

Those are the words of Chief Anthony Aiellos (ret.) of the Hackensack, NJ, Fire Department on the 20th anniversary of the Hackensack Ford dealership fire that killed five firefighters in 1988. Without understanding building-occupancy relationships and integrating fire dynamics and fire behavior, risk, analysis, the art and science of firefighting, safety-conscious work environment concepts and effective and well-informed incident management, company-level supervision and task-level competencies, you are derelict and negligent and everyone may not be going home. Empirical insights and test data must be integrated in emerging fire suppression models and improved firefighting theory.

It’s Occupancy Risk versus Occupancy Type. Photo by CJ Naum

It’s Occupancy Risk versus Occupancy Type;

Changes in building size and floor area, compartment volume and interconnectivity, fire load packages, methods and materials in construction and structural support systems create specific risk profiles and demands in what used to be common Occupancy types. A report of a fire in a residential occupancy will have different risks and operational requirements if the house is a 1500 SF Bungalow, a 2500 SF old Decker/Flat or a 4000 SF Engineered system house.

 

Conclusion

Our world has evolved. Technological and sociological demands create a continuing element of change in the built environment and our infrastructure. With these changes and demands come the need to assess these vulnerabilities, hazards and threats with effective and dynamic risk management and competent command and control.

These changes influence the way we do business in the street, the interface-up close and personal with the buildings in your community and equate to the risks and hazards you and your personnel will be confronted with and the level of safety afforded them during incident operations.

Fire suppression tactics must be adjusted for the rapidly changing methods and materials impacting all forms of building construction, occupancies and structures. The need to redefine the art and science of firefighting is nearly upon us. Some things do stand the test of time, others need to adjust, evolve and change. Not for the sake of change only, but for the emerging and evolving buildings, structures and occupancies being built, developed or renovated in our communities.

If the fire service can significantly increase proficiencies in building knowledge and equate that to other fundamental operational aspects in structural fire operations, then there would be a direct enhancement to firefighter safety, through injury and LODD reduction, operational efficiency and operational excellence. If we understand buildings, occupancies and construction, and balance this with our understanding of fire dynamics and orchestrate it with appropriate strategies, tactics and command management, then we made the new safety equation work; Building Knowledge = Firefighter Safety (Bk=F2S). It’s all about the Anatomy of Buildings on fire.

 

The Probability of Adverse Consequences (PAC) Photo by CJ Naum

 

The Probability of Adverse Consequences (PAC) must be recognized in all buildings with continuous and focused risk assessment during all phases and task assignments.

This single building and occupancy (photo above) exemplifies an Integrated Hybrid Building (IHB) type that incorporates Type III Ordinary construction with an engineered wood I-beam roof assembly on the lower street level and Type II non-combustible construction on the upper floors. This would require different IAP’s and tactical deployment in the event of a fire.

Get out on to your streets and into the field and look at how the buildings are being constructed in your jurisdiction. Understanding how they are built and what the inherent dangers are, coupled with accurate pre-fire planning data will provide mission critical information when engaged in combat fire suppression operations. The anatomy of the building is fundamental to corresponding firefighting operations. Photo by CJ Naum

Get out on to your streets and into the field and look at how the buildings are being constructed in your jurisdiction. Understanding how they are built and what the inherent dangers are, coupled with accurate pre-fire planning data will provide mission critical information when engaged in combat fire suppression operations.

The anatomy of the building is fundamental to corresponding firefighting operations.

Understanding Buildings, Performance & Fire Operations

  • There is an acute corollary of technical knowledge and inter reliance on occupancies, construction, strategy, tactics, risk, safety, physics, engineering and fire suppression theory…FACT!
  • There are Fundamental Domains that can be applied
  • There is a direct empirical correlation that provides quantitative & qualitative performance indicators and command gauges that can be utilized for risk assessment and strategic & tactical operational decision-making.

Think about the following;

  • Read, comprehend and implement the new IAFC The Rules of Engagement for Firefighter Survival and The Incident Commanders Rules of Engagement for Firefighter Safety
  • Take a tour of your response area, district or community. Take a good look around and begin to recognize the apparent or subtle changes that will affect and influence your future incident operations; Take note and think about what needs to be adjusted, modified or changed in your operations.
  • Read up on the latest research and technical literature on wind driven fires, extreme fire behavior, structural ability of engineered lumber systems, fire loading and suppression theory, vent path studies and fire suppression theory.
  • Take the time to personally read a series of the latest NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program LODD reports and relate them to your organizations operations and jurisdictional risks.
  • Start thinking in terms of Occupancy Risks versus Occupancy Type and align your operations and deployments to match those risks. It’s much more than just the Five Fundamental Building Types of the past.
  • Increase your situational awareness of today’s fireground and refine your strategic and tactical modeling.
  • Implement both Strategic and Tactical Patience; Slow down and allow the building to react and stabilize, for fire behavior to stop behaving badly and for your companies to increase survivability ratios while meeting the demands of conducting time sensitive tactical fire service operations
  • Think about Adaptive Fireground Management and Command Resiliency
  • Reprogram your assumptions and presumptions and options on building construction and firefighting operations; the buildings have changed, our firefighting has not; what are you going to about that gap?
  • Understanding the building-occupancy relationships and the art and science of firefighting, equating to Building Knowledge = Firefighter Safety.
  • Start knowing your buildings-intimately; it’s the key to effective firefighting

Understand the buildings and occupancies not only in your jurisdiction, first or second-due areas, but also in those areas that you may be called upon to respond to for greater alarms or mutual aid. Remember Building Knowledge = Firefighter Safety.

Understand and improve upon your skill set levels and those of your company, battalion, division, department or region.

  • Keep apprised of different types of building materials and construction used in your community.
  • The operative question is this: “What do you “really” know about the buildings in your district?”
  • As you drive about your response district, coming back from an alarm, heading to the firehouse tonight or running errands around your community, take a good look around. Ask yourself a simple question; “How well do you know the buildings, structures and occupancies in your response jurisdiction?”
  • Be honest, do you really understand how those “older residential” structures were built and understand how fire travels and impacts your fireground operations?
  • Are your aware of the newest features of engineered structural support systems being constructed within that new set of homes going up in your second-due area?
  • Are you aware, that vacant office building is being converted into a light manufacturing and assembly business?
  • How about those unoccupied store fronts and businesses that have recently closed up due to the tough economic times…. any special hazards or operational concerns to your company should you get a dispatch to respond?
  • Have the senior members of your station or department shared their stories of operations and incidents at various buildings around your district or community?
  • Did you listen to them, or were you quick to dismiss those “old war stories”. There’s a wealth of “pre-planning’ nuggets hidden in those stories. Take the time to listen, remember or postulate
  • Take a good look around….think about any given building, the one across the street that you’re looking at while you waited for the traffic light to change; Think about a fire in that same building.
  • Do you really understand how it will truly perform under combat structural fire conditions?
  • What’s the building’s collapse profile?
  • How much operational time will you have? Will you need?
  • What’s the fire load package size?
  • What are your concerns for rapid fire extension, extreme fire behavior and vent path issues that may affect firefighter safety?
  • What dynamic risk assessment factors will you have to deal with?
  • How safe is it for you to engage in interior operations upon your arrival?
  • How can this building, its occupancy and structural system hurt, my team, my company, my firefighters, my department, me?

Never assume the same rules of structural fire engagement can be applied to all buildings without constant risk assessment, recon and situational awareness. Strategies and tactics must remain fluid. This single story commercial occupancy looked like a basic renovated Type III building from the street. An exposed (minimal design) interior accompanied by a non-conventional bow string truss support system and a raftered roof deck are ingredients for catastrophe for the unsuspecting Engine or Truck Companies. Photo by CJ Naum

Never assume the same rules of structural fire engagement can be applied to all buildings without constant risk assessment, recon and situational awareness. Strategies and tactics must remain fluid.

This single story commercial occupancy (photo above) looked like a basic renovated Type III building from the street. An exposed (minimal design) interior accompanied by a non-conventional bow string truss support system and a raftered roof deck are ingredients for catastrophe for the unsuspecting Engine or Truck Companies.

Keep an eye in the rear view mirror; learning from the wisdom and knowledge from where you’ve been, what you’ve done and all your past experiences and practice; but at the same time focusing on the road before you with keen attentiveness on situational awareness, anticipating error-likely conditions and balanced risk assessment and operational management in both your strategic and tactical deployments.

Ensure you’re glancing occasionally in your rear view mirror to monitor where you’ve been, while driving your initiatives, programs, processes and actions forward. Above all, maintain the courage to be safe and know and understand your buildings, occupancies and your company’s capabilities.

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Baltimore County (MD) Firefighter Falkenhan Line of Duty Death Report Issued http://buildingsonfire.com/baltimore-county-md-firefighter-falkenhan-line-of-duty-death-report-issued http://buildingsonfire.com/baltimore-county-md-firefighter-falkenhan-line-of-duty-death-report-issued#respond Mon, 26 Mar 2012 00:10:26 +0000 http://buildingsonfire.com/?p=2397

Operations at 30 Dowling Circle 01.19.2011 Box 11-09

Mark Gray Falkenhan had dedicated his life to serving others. He perished in the line of duty on January 19, 2011 while performing search and rescue operations at a multi-alarm apartment fire in Hillendale, Baltimore County (Maryland). He was 43 years old.

Firefighter Mark FalkenhanPrevious coverage from 2011: HERE and here, here, here and here30 Dowling Circle

 

On Wednesday, January 19, 2011, a fire occurred in an apartment building located in the Hillendale section of Baltimore County, Maryland. This fire resulted in the line of duty death (LODD) of volunteer firefighter Mark G. Falkenhan, who was operating as the acting lieutenant on Squad 303 . Upon their arrival, FF Falkenhan and a second firefighter from Squad 303 deployed to the upper floors of the apartment building to conduct search and rescue operations. Other fire department units were already involved with both firefighting operations and effecting rescues of trapped civilians.

During these operations, FF Falkenhan and his partner became trapped in a third floor apartment by rapidly spreading fire and smoke conditions. The second firefighter was able to self-egress the building by diving headfirst down a ladder on the front (address side) of the building. FF Falkenhan declared a “MAYDAY” and implemented “MAYDAY” procedures, but was unable to escape or be rescued.

FF Falkenhan was located and removed via a balcony on the third floor in the rear of the building. Resuscitative efforts began immediately upon removal from the balcony, and continued en route to the hospital. FF Falkenhan succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at the hospital.

The Baltimore County (MD) Fire Department published the Line of Duty Death Investgation Report of the 30 Dowling Circle Fire recently. The report was written by a Line of Duty Death Investigation Team comprised of departmental members, including representatives of the local firefighters’ union and the Baltimore County Volunteer Firemen’s Association.

The following is and executive narrative of the final report (PDF) on the apartment fire where Volunteer Firefighter Mark Falkenhan sustained fatal injuries. The entire report can be downloaded HERE .

The Baltimore Sun newspaper published an editorial about the death of Firefighter Falkenhan that is required reading; HERE . An excerpt from the editorial reads as follows:

FF Mark Falkenhan

 

The word “hero” gets used too often to describe the most pedestrian of admirable behaviors, from the star quarterback who marches his team for a winning score to the kid who finds a missing wallet and turns it in. But exceptional bravery, special ability, exceptional deeds and noble qualities — those are what define an authentic hero, and Mr. Falkenhan lacked for none of them.

It was not by accidental circumstance or naiveté that he ended up on the third story of that Hillendale apartment complex in the midst of a fire, searching for missing residents. He knew the risks as well as anyone could. But his selfless desire to help others drove him forward into the flames.

That’s what made him exceptional. That’s why his legacy is important. That’s why the community is in his debt.

Incident Executive Summary

On Wednesday, January 19, 2011, a fire occurred in an apartment building located in the Hillendale section of Baltimore County, Maryland. This fire resulted in the line of duty death (LODD) of volunteer firefighter Mark G. Falkenhan, who was operating as the acting lieutenant on Squad 303 (for purposes of this report, Mark will be referred to as FF Falkenhan). Upon their arrival, FF Falkenhan and a second firefighter (FF # 2) from Squad 303 deployed to the upper floors of the apartment building to conduct search and rescue operations. Other fire department units were already involved with both firefighting operations and effecting rescues of trapped civilians.

During these operations, FF Falkenhan and FF # 2 became trapped in a third floor apartment by rapidly spreading fire and smoke conditions. FF # 2 was able to self-egress the building by diving headfirst down a ladder on the front (address side) of the building. FF Falkenhan declared a “MAYDAY” and implemented “MAYDAY” procedures, but was unable to escape or be rescued. FF Falkenhan was located and removed via a balcony on the third floor in the rear of the building. Resuscitative efforts began immediately upon removal from the balcony, and continued en route to the hospital. FF Falkenhan succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at the hospital.

Baltimore County Fire Department Standard Operating Procedures, Personnel #16, requires a team to be formed, a detailed investigation to be conducted and a report produced for any incident involving a line of duty life threatening injury or death. The team’s objective is to thoroughly analyze and document all the events leading to the injury or death and to make recommendations aimed at preventing similar occurrences in the future. At a minimum, a Division Chief, the Department’s Health and Safety Officer, a member from the Fire Investigation Division, an IAFF Local 1311 union representative, and the Baltimore County Volunteer Firemen’s Association Vice President of Operations (when a volunteer member is involved) is required (see Acknowledgements section for actual team make-up).

The investigating team examined any and all data available, including independent analysis of the self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), turnout gear and autopsy report. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) produced a fire model to assist with evaluating fire behavior. Multiple site inspections were conducted. Extensive interviews were conducted by the team which also attended those conducted by investigators from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Photographic and audio transcripts were also thoroughly analyzed. A comprehensive timeline of events was developed. All information used to make decisions regarding recommendations was corroborated by at least two sources.

  • In fairness to those units involved in this incident, the investigating team had the advantage of examining this incident over the period of several months. Furthermore, given the size and nature of the event, and the fact that arriving crews were met with serious fire conditions and several residents trapped and in immediate danger, all personnel should be commended for their efforts for performing several rescues which prevented an even greater tragedy.
  • The team did not identify a particular primary reason for FF Falkenhan’s death.
  • What were identified were many secondary issues involving but not limited to crew integrity, incident command, strategy and tactics, and communications.
  • These issues are identified and discussed, and recommendations are made in appropriate sections of the report, as well as in a consolidated format in the Report Appendix.

Some of the issues identified in this report may require some type of change to current practices, policies, procedures or equipment. Most, however, do not. Specifically, the analysis and recommendations regarding Incident Command and Strategy and Tactics show that if current policies and procedures are adhered to, the opportunity for catastrophic problems may be reduced.

  • Mark Falkenhan was a well-respected and experienced firefighter.
  • He died performing his duties during a very complex incident with severe fire conditions and unique fire behavior coupled with the immediate need to perform multiple rescues of victims in imminent danger.
  • It would be easy if one particular failure of the system could be identified as the cause of this tragedy.
  • We could fix it and move on. Unfortunately it is not that simple.
  • No incident is “routine”. Mark’s death and this report reinforce that fact.

 

Incident Summary

On Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 1816 hours, a call was received at the Baltimore County 911 Center from a female occupant at 30 Dowling Circle in the Hillendale section of Baltimore County. The caller stated that her stove was on fire and the fire was spreading to the surrounding cabinets. Fire box 11-09 was dispatched by Baltimore County Fire Dispatch (Dispatch) at 1818 hours consisting of four engine companies, two truck companies, a floodlight unit, and a battalion chief. All units responded on Talkgroup 1-2.

The location, approximately one mile from the first dispatched engine company, is a three story garden-type apartment complex, with brick construction and a composite shingle, truss supported roof. The fire building contained a total of six apartments divided by a common enclosed stairway in the center with one apartment on the left and one to the right of the stairs.

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta will be used to designate the clockwise geographic locations of the structure, beginning with Alpha on the address side of the building . Entry is gained through the front split-level stairwell by a common entrance door with individual doors leading to each apartment. Each apartment consists of two bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom, and a living/dining area. There are sliding doors leading to either a wood joist deck/balcony on the second and third floor apartments, or a concrete patio on the first floor apartments. Utilities consist of gas service to the furnace and hot water heaters located in a utility closet in each apartment, with electric service to the remainder of the appliances, including the stove. Interior walls of the apartments are drywall over wood stud construction.

Floor coverings consist of carpeting over tile and concrete on the terrace/first floor. The second and third floor coverings consist of carpeting covering hardwood floors with a plywood subfloor. Interior doors are hollow wood construction. The door to the common hallway is of solid wood construction. The sliding doors to the deck/patio area are glass.

Building Construction

The development and construction of the Towson Crossing Apartments began in the early 1980’s. The buildings are rated in the existing building code for occupancy as Residential 2 (R2). The building code would describe the construction type as Type III. This construction type includes those buildings where the exterior walls are of non-combustible materials and the interior building elements are of any material permitted by the building code.

Building Construction and Features

The subject apartment building, 30 Dowling Circle, is a three story, middle of the group, apartment building constructed on a reinforced concrete slab. The Alpha and Charlie exterior walls are wood framed construction with brick veneer attached by brick ties. The Bravo and Delta exterior walls are block masonry construction and separate adjoining apartment buildings. The interior partition walls consist of wooden 2″x4″ wall studs covered with sheetrock. Paper faced insulation is found between the exterior walls, ceilings and party-walls that separate the apartments.

The apartment building contains six individual apartment units, which are approximately 1000 square feet in size per apartment unit. Two separate units are located on each floor and consist of two bedrooms, a living area, a dining area, a kitchen, and a bathroom. A utility closet is located in each of the living areas. The closet is located along the Alpha wall, and contains the water heater and furnace.

The building is not equipped with an automatic fire suppression system. Smoke detectors were noted; however, it is unknown if they were operational at the time of the fire. A fire extinguisher was noted on the landing between the second and third floor levels of the building.

Topography

From side Alpha the building has two and a half stories above grade while side Charlie is three stories above grade.

The first floor of the building is approximately five feet below ground level with a 20 foot set back from the apartment building parking lot. Side Charlie of the building is at ground level but slopes upward approximately 8 feet with a set-back of 110 feet from the rear alley.

Roof

The roof is constructed of a lightweight truss assembly consisting of 2″x6″ stringers connected by gusset plates. The truss assembly is covered with 5/8 inch plywood and asphalt shingles.

Floor and Ceiling

The floor assembly consists of 2×10 inch floor joists covered by plywood, wooden tongue and groove planking and finished with carpet. The joists run from Alpha to Charlie and are supported by the interior bearing walls. The kitchen floors in all of the units are covered with vinyl tile.

The ceilings throughout the building are sheetrock nailed to the floor joists of the apartment above with the exception of the third level in which the sheetrock is nailed to the roof joists.

Balconies

The balconies are located on side Charlie of the building. The balconies located on levels two and three consist of 5/4″ deck boards over 2″x10″ wooden joists. The joists are cantilevered off of the floor/ceiling assemblies of levels one and two. The first floor balconies are made of concrete and are at ground level. All balconies are accessible through a single pane sliding glass door located in each apartment.

Incident Overview

The first arriving engine, E-11, was staffed with a Captain, Lieutenant, Driver/Operator, and a Firefighter. Upon arrival at 1820 hours, the Captain gave a brief initial report describing a three story garden apartment with smoke showing from side Alpha: “The Captain of E-11 will have Command and we are initiating an aggressive interior attack with a 1 ¾” hand line”. Command also instructed the second due engine to bring him a supply line from the hydrant.

A female resident (victim # 1) appeared in a third floor apartment window, Alpha/Bravo side (Apt. B-1), yelled for assistance, and threatened to jump. Smoke or fire was visible from any of the third floor windows. At 1823 hours, Command advised Dispatch that he had a rescue and that he was establishing Limited Command. Fire Dispatch was in the process of upgrading the response profile to an apartment fire with rescue when the responding Battalion Chief requested that the fire box be upgraded to a fire rescue box. While the Firefighter and Lieutenant prepared for entry into the building, the Captain and Driver/Operator extended a ladder to the 3rd floor apartment window and rescued the resident. The first attempt by the Firefighter and Lieutenant to make entry into the side Alpha entrance was unsuccessful due to the extreme heat and smoke conditions.

Initial Arrival Conditions

The second due engine, E-10, arrived at 1823 with staffing of a Captain, Lieutenant, Driver/Operator, and a Firefighter. At 1823, E-10’s crew brought a 4″ supply line to E-11 from the hydrant at Deanwood Rd. and Dowling Circle and assisted the first-in crew with fire attack.

  • The Captain from E-10 conferred with Command and was instructed to advance a second 1 ¾” hand line.
  • The window to the first floor right apartment (Apt. T-2) was removed, and the second 1 ¾” line was advanced to the building by the crew of E-10.
  • Fire attack was initiated through the removed window. At 1827, Command requested a second alarm.

At this time, heat and smoke conditions just inside the front door improved enough to allow the Firefighter and Lieutenant from E-11 to make entry through the front door and into the stairwell. There they encountered heavy, thick black

smoke and high heat conditions coming up the stairs from the terrace level apartment. The Lieutenant reported that the doorway to the first floor apartment was orange with fire and he had to fight his way through heavy heat and smoke conditions to attack the fire in the first floor right apartment (Apt. T-2). Entry was made approximately 3 feet into the doorway when the Firefighter’s low air alarm began to sound, and he exited the building. A member from E-10’s crew replaced the Firefighter from E-11 on the hose line.

At the same time, the Captain from E-11 proceeded to the rear of the structure to complete his initial 360 degree size up. He noted that there was fire emanating from the open sliding doors on the first floor Charlie/Delta apartment (Apt. T-2), extending to the balcony above. E-1, staffed by a Captain, Driver/Operator, and two Firefighters arrived and completed the hookup of the supply line that had been laid to the hydrant by E-10. The rest of Engine 1’s crew grabbed tools and an extension ladder and reported to the Charlie side of the building.

Personnel stated that at this point fire conditions seemed to improve, suggesting that crews were making progress extinguishing the fire. (The first arriving attack crew reported that they were able to see apparatus lights through the sliding doors on Charlie side, which indicated to them that smoke and fire conditions were improving.)

Truck 1, a tiller unit staffed by a Lieutenant, two Driver/Operators, and a Firefighter, arrived on side Alpha and immediately began search and rescue operations. Windows on the second floor Alpha/Delta side apartment (Apt. A-2) were vented and ladders were thrown to gain access. T-8 arrived at the alley on side Charlie. E-1 extended a ground ladder to the third floor balcony on the Charlie/Bravo side of the structure (Apt. B-1), and made access to the apartment to search for additional victims.

  • They noted fire venting from the first floor Charlie/Delta apartment (Apt. T-2) out of the sliding glass doors progressing upwards towards the balcony on the second floor. Upon entering the apartment, they conducted a primary search and noted minimal heat with light smoke conditions.
  • The crew accessed the hallway via the apartment entry door and noticed an increase in the temperature and the amount of smoke.
  • They immediately closed the door and exited the apartment via the ground ladder.
  • Upon exiting the apartment, E-1’s crew observed E-292 on the scene with a hand line extending into the apartment of origin, (first floor, Charlie/Delta side, Apt. T-2). The officer on E-1 noted white smoke coming from the unit.

Having already laid a supply line from the intersection of the alley and Deanwood Road, E-292’s crew extended a 1 ¾” hand line into the apartment of origin. Moderate fire conditions with zero visibility were encountered, and they reported feeling a great deal of heat on their knees as they crawled through the apartment.

The Lieutenant and the Firefighter from Truck-1 entered Apartment A-2 via a second floor bedroom window (Alpha/Delta side) and began a search for additional victims. As they traversed the living room area they found an unconscious male resident (victim #2). At 1836 hours, the Lieutenant notified Command via an urgent transmission that a victim had been located and they needed assistance with evacuation. The Lieutenant and Firefighter noted a small fire in the rear corner near the victim as they exited the room. The crew returned to the bedroom from which they had entered and closed the door behind them. Victim #2 was then evacuated from the apartment via a ground ladder through the bedroom window, and transferred to EMS personnel on side Alpha.

Preflashover conditions Alpha Side 18:37 hours

At 1831 hours, Squad 303, a unit staffed by a Driver/Operator, Firefighter Falkenhan (acting Officer in Charge), and 3 other Firefighters had arrived at the Alpha side of the building. Firefighter Falkenhan and two crew members grabbed their tools and immediately entered the building. One Firefighter (Firefighter #1) proceeded to the terrace floor apartment to assist crews with fire attack. Firefighter Falkenhan and the other Firefighter (Firefighter #2) proceeded to the second floor

Bravo side apartment (Apt. A-1) to search for additional victims. They forced the door to the second floor apartment and conducted their search. Finding no one, they reported to Command that they had encountered high heat in the apartment and at 1838 hours, inquired as to which apartment victim #2 had been found. Firefighter Falkenhan advised Command that he and his fellow Firefighter were proceeding to the third floor to continue their search.

At 1840 hours, Battalion Chief 11 (BC-11) arrived on the scene, performed a face-to-face pass on with the Captain on Engine 11, and assumed Command. BC-11 initially observed limited smoke conditions, indicating to him that crews had made progress in extinguishing the fire.

18:41 hours

Meanwhile, the Lieutenant and Firefighter from T-8 entered the second floor apartment that S-303 had just searched (Apt. A-1, second floor, Bravo side). They proceeded through the apartment and went across the hallway to Apartment A-2 where Truck-1 had just made their rescue (second floor, Delta side).

The Lieutenant noted smoky conditions, and saw that the sliding doors to the rear of the apartment were open, and saw a small fire in the rear of the apartment to the left of the open doors. On their way back to their point of entry, T-8’s crew discovered an unconscious female victim (victim #3). At 1837 hours, T-8 attempted to reach Command via radio and was covered by inaudible radio traffic. Dispatch was able to receive the radio transmission from T-8, and advised Command that another victim had been located on the second floor.

  • At this point, the crew from S-303 had completed their search of the third floor Bravo side apartment (Apt. B-1).
  • Firefighter Falkenhan and Firefighter #2 were able to look out of the sliding doors on side Charlie down to the first floor apartment, Apt. T-2 (Charlie/Delta side) and could see fire.
  • Smoke conditions on the third floor were light enough to walk upright in a somewhat crouched position.
  • The crew returned to the hallway, forced open the door to the third floor Charlie/Delta side apartment, Apt. B-2, and made entry.
  • Firefighter #2 walked down the hallway to the bedroom on the right while Firefighter Falkenhan searched to the left. After checking the bedroom, Firefighter #2 stated that he heard something behind him and turned to see fire in the hallway.

As the crew from S-303 searched the third floor Delta side apartment (Apt. B-2), The Lieutenant and Firefighter from T-8 were attempting to remove victim #3 from the second floor Delta side apartment (Apt. A-2). As they prepared to move their patient, fire conditions changed suddenly.

The Lieutenant from T-8 observed fire, “…rolling over our heads and out of the apartment door.” An immediate increase in heat conditions was noted. Upon exiting the apartment, T-8’s crew described a “tunnel of fire” coming out of the apartment and into the hallway. At 1841 hours, a radio transmission was made by an unknown source that heavy fire was observed in the hallway through a window at the stairwell landing.

At the same time, (1841) one minute after his arrival, Battalion Chief-11 (Command) noted heavy black smoke coming from the building and observed a “flash” through a second floor window. Command immediately ordered an evacuation of the building. Dispatch sounded the evacuation tones over the radio, and repeated the order to evacuate. Engines on the scene sounded their air horns to indicate that the order to evacuate had been given.

Firefighter #2 from S-303 reported hearing the engines on the fire ground sound their air horns, indicating to him that he needed to leave the building. Smoke conditions in the apartment had changed to thick black smoke, and the fire intensified, blocking his means of egress from the bedroom.

Realizing that he needed to get out of the apartment quickly, Firefighter#2 crawled to a window on the Alpha side of the bedroom and signaled Firefighters below with his hand light to move a ladder to the window. Crews immediately moved the ladder, and at 1841, Firefighter#2 dove headfirst out of the window and down the ladder, where he was assisted by crews working on the exterior of the building.

  • At 1841, Firefighter Falkenhan declared, “Emergency” on his radio, and repeated the same seven seconds later.
  • Command immediately queried S-303 for his location and the transmission “I’m down to the floor, heavy fire” was heard. At 1842 hours, Dispatch sounded emergency tones and restricted the Talkgroup to communications only between S-303 and Command.
  • Seconds later Firefighter Falkenhan again keyed up his portable radio and advised “…trapped on the 3rd floor, heavy fire on the Alpha/Bravo.”
  • Fourteen seconds later he advised “I hear crew members, the third, MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY.”
  • Command notified Dispatch, “We have a MAYDAY” and was interrupted by a transmission from Firefighter Falkenhan, “urgent.”
  • Command made several attempts to contact Falkenhan to ascertain his location and determine resources needed (Location Unit Name Assignment Resources) for rescue.

Upon hearing the MAYDAY, crews on side Charlie threw multiple ladders to the third floor balcony to assist with rescue.

Heavy heat, smoke, and fire conditions made rescue difficult, but Firefighter Falkenhan was located and removed from the apartment via the balcony to the extended aerial ladder from T-8. He was unconscious and unresponsive at this time. Resuscitative efforts began immediately upon removal from the balcony, and continued enroute to the hospital. Firefighter Falkenhan succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at the hospital.

 

Consolidated List of Recommendations

Crew Integrity

1. Company officers shall ensure that crew integrity is maintained at all times by all personnel operating in an IDLH environment. 2. No personnel shall operate in an IDLH environment without a portable radio.

MAYDAY

1. If possible, the firefighter should activate his/her Emergency button on the portable radio. 2. Once personnel have called a MAYDAY and provided the information needed (LUNAR), they will activate their PASS Device manually and intermittently.

Incident Command

1. Tactical Operations Manual 07 allows Incident Commanders the flexibility to adapt to fast-moving and complex incidents. When re-assuming command, the IC must be identified (verbally through Fire Dispatch) to allow units involved and responding to know who is in command.

2. Incident Commanders must understand that an early initial 360° would give the IC the information needed to develop effective strategy and tactics for incident mitigation.

3. Additional arriving units must give the IC an updated report on fire conditions when noticeably different than those announced in the Brief Initial Report.

4. Arriving units should prompt the IC to assign them supervision of a division when conditions warrant such action.

5. The IC must ensure that all division and group supervisors are properly deployed and verbalize same on the radio for Dispatch and units involved on the incident.

6. Reinforce the importance of the ICS and its functional components for all officers.

7. Ensure a manageable span-of-control is maintained throughout the incident.

8. Evaluate the efficiency of command and control as incidents escalate.

9. A Rapid Intervention Team is a vitally important part of the ICS and its assignment should not be overlooked.

Strategy and Tactics

1. Use caution when passing a hydrant that is in your direction of travel and close to the fire building in an attempt to get a closer one.

2. Consider having the initial backup line proceeding into the same point of entry as the initial crew operating in the IDLH environment. Doing this allows for the line to also aid in protecting the common stairwell (i.e. fire extension/protection for egress). Deploy a third line if needed into another point of access.

3. Consider dialing nozzles up to higher gallons per minute for large structures such as apartment buildings.

4. Consider utilizing a 2-1/2″ attack line for fire attack.

5. The current SOP should be modified to state that when the initial Incident Commander feels that the incident has stabilized to a point where there is no longer a need for him/her to be directly involved with incident operations, a notification through Dispatch shall be made to inform crews on and en route to the scene.

6. The Department should develop training to ensure that Incident Commanders relay changes in modes of operations.

7. Consider attacking fires from other sides of the structure that are on grade.

8. Consider the use of “door control” for protection during search and rescue and exposure protection

9. When deviations to initial orders are made, they must be communicated to Command.

10. IC should consider setting up a division supervisor with the first arriving officer to balance his/her span-of-control early into the incident.

11. Command should initiate group and division supervisors early into an incident and use them to reduce his/her span-of-control. Communicate Conditions, Actions, Needs (CAN) reports early and often.

12. When units are the initial crews deployed to a geographic location, consideration should be given to “prompt” Command to make them a division supervisor (in the absence of direction from Command).

13. Units should request resources, or supply their own as necessary to support the operations that they are undertaking.

14. When given a division assignment, “step back” to take in the overall picture and communicate progress reports to Command.

15. Be clear and concise when setting up division assignments.

16. Utilize the division supervisors for incident operations once assigned.

17. Training on effective use of interior doors to control fire spread should be promoted throughout the department.

18. Consider removing common stairwell windows earlier in fire ground operations when appropriate.

19. While performing operations above the fire, notify Command of changing conditions and immediately request resources to support your function.

20. Set up a command post as early as possible to aid in deploying and accounting for resources as they arrive on the fire ground.

21. Notify Command when entering an IDLH.

22. Request resources to support functions.

23. Set up divisions and groups early to aid in managing the strategic priorities.

24. Be clear in communicating strategy and tactics to companies involved in operations.

25. Command should make it a priority to deploy attack lines on all floors to support the operations of crews working in the area.

Communications

1. A rubberized cover for the radio speaker microphone should be tested by communications and field personnel. This device will cover the push-to-talk (PTT) button and will increase the pressure required for activation. If proved effective, this cover will decrease the likelihood of an accidental activation of the PTT button during vigorous fire ground activity.

2. Continuing study should occur to evaluate methods to control inadvertent radio interference from all units (on the scene, responding, or monitoring) during incident operations. Review PTT logs to identify sources of communications interference.

3. As a result of the investigation, PTT log files will now be saved for 25 days.

4. Fire Communications and field personnel will develop and distribute a mandatory training program outlining proper radio procedures including the importance of radio discipline, MAYDAY procedures, and the procedure for establishing a Command restricted talk group during critical operations.

5. All personnel engaged in operations in an environment immediately dangerous to life and health shall carry a portable radio.

6. The aforementioned mandatory training program shall stress the importance of giving regular updates to Command regarding the extent and location of the fire and other pertinent information.

Recommendations PDF File: HERE

 

References

 

 

 

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Fire Dynamics Simulation of 2011 Baltimore County LODD- 30 Dowling Circle http://buildingsonfire.com/fire-dynamics-simulation-of-2011-baltimore-county-lodd-30-dowling-circle http://buildingsonfire.com/fire-dynamics-simulation-of-2011-baltimore-county-lodd-30-dowling-circle#respond Sun, 25 Mar 2012 23:55:46 +0000 http://buildingsonfire.com/?p=2389

Operations at 30 Dowling Circle 01.19.2011 Box 11-09On Wednesday, January 19, 2011, a fire occurred in an apartment building located in the Hillendale section of Baltimore County, Maryland. This fire resulted in the line of duty death (LODD) of volunteer firefighter Mark G. Falkenhan, who was operating as the acting lieutenant on Squad 303 . Upon their arrival, FF Falkenhan and a second firefighter from Squad 303 deployed to the upper floors of the apartment building to conduct search and rescue operations. Other fire department units were already involved with both firefighting operations and effecting rescues of trapped civilians.During these operations, FF Falkenhan and his partner became trapped in a third floor apartment by rapidly spreading fire and smoke conditions. The second firefighter was able to self-egress the building by diving headfirst down a ladder on the front (address side) of the building. FF Falkenhan declared a "MAYDAY" and implemented "MAYDAY" procedures, but was unable to escape or be rescued.FF Falkenhan was located and removed via a balcony on the third floor in the rear of the building. Resuscitative efforts began immediately upon removal from the balcony, and continued en route to the hospital. FF Falkenhan succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at the hospital.Mark Gray Falkenhan had dedicated his life to serving others. He perished in the line of duty on January 19, 2011 while performing search and rescue operations at a multi-alarm apartment fire in Hillendale, Baltimore County (Maryland). He was 43 years old. Firefighter Mark Falkenhan

30 Dowling Circle

 

The Baltimore County (MD) Fire Department published the Line of Duty Death Investgation Report of the 30 Dowling Circle Fire recently.

The report was written by a Line of Duty Death Investigation Team comprised of departmental members, including representatives of the local firefighters’ union and the Baltimore County Volunteer Firemen’s Association.

An overview and executive narrative of the final report (PDF) on the apartment fire where Volunteer Firefighter Mark Falkenhan sustained fatal injuries was posed on CommandSafety.com HERE.

FF Mark Falkenhan

On Wednesday, January 19, 2011, a fire occurred in an apartment building located in the Hillendale section of Baltimore County, Maryland. This fire resulted in the line of duty death (LODD) of volunteer firefighter Mark G. Falkenhan, who was operating as the acting lieutenant on Squad 303 (for purposes of this report, Mark will be referred to as FF Falkenhan).

Upon their arrival, FF Falkenhan and a second firefighter (FF # 2) from Squad 303 deployed to the upper floors of the apartment building to conduct search and rescue operations. Other fire department units were already involved with both firefighting operations and effecting rescues of trapped civilians.

During these operations, FF Falkenhan and FF # 2 became trapped in a third floor apartment by rapidly spreading fire and smoke conditions. FF # 2 was able to self-egress the building by diving headfirst down a ladder on the front (address side) of the building. FF Falkenhan declared a “MAYDAY” and implemented “MAYDAY” procedures, but was unable to escape or be rescued.

FF Falkenhan was located and removed via a balcony on the third floor in the rear of the building. Resuscitative efforts began immediately upon removal from the balcony, and continued en route to the hospital. FF Falkenhan succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at the hospital.

The investigating team examined any and all data available, including independent analysis of the self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), turnout gear and autopsy report. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) produced a fire model to assist with evaluating fire behavior. Multiple site inspections were conducted. Extensive interviews were conducted by the team which also attended those conducted by investigators from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Photographic and audio transcripts were also thoroughly analyzed. A comprehensive timeline of events was developed. All information used to make decisions regarding recommendations was corroborated by at least two sources.

  • In fairness to those units involved in this incident, the investigating team had the advantage of examining this incident over the period of several months. Furthermore, given the size and nature of the event, and the fact that arriving crews were met with serious fire conditions and several residents trapped and in immediate danger, all personnel should be commended for their efforts for performing several rescues which prevented an even greater tragedy.
  • The team did not identify a particular primary reason for FF Falkenhan’s death.
  • What were identified were many secondary issues involving but not limited to crew integrity, incident command, strategy and tactics, and communications.
  • These issues are identified and discussed, and recommendations are made in appropriate sections of the report, as well as in a consolidated format in the Report Appendix.

Some of the issues identified in this report may require some type of change to current practices, policies, procedures or equipment. Most, however, do not. Specifically, the analysis and recommendations regarding Incident Command and Strategy and Tactics show that if current policies and procedures are adhered to, the opportunity for catastrophic problems may be reduced.

  • Mark Falkenhan was a well-respected and experienced firefighter.
  • He died performing his duties during a very complex incident with severe fire conditions and unique fire behavior coupled with the immediate need to perform multiple rescues of victims in imminent danger.
  • It would be easy if one particular failure of the system could be identified as the cause of this tragedy.
  • We could fix it and move on. Unfortunately it is not that simple.
  • No incident is “routine”. Mark’s death and this report reinforce that fact.

On Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 1816 hours, a call was received at the Baltimore County 911 Center from a female occupant at 30 Dowling Circle in the Hillendale section of Baltimore County. The caller stated that her stove was on fire and the fire was spreading to the surrounding cabinets. Fire box 11-09 was dispatched by Baltimore County Fire Dispatch (Dispatch) at 1818 hours consisting of four engine companies, two truck companies, a floodlight unit, and a battalion chief. All units responded on Talkgroup 1-2.

The location, approximately one mile from the first dispatched engine company, is a three story garden-type apartment complex, with brick construction and a composite shingle, truss supported roof. The fire building contained a total of six apartments divided by a common enclosed stairway in the center with one apartment on the left and one to the right of the stairs.

 

Fire Dynamics Simulation of 2011 Baltimore County LODD- 30 Dowling

Fire Dynamics Analysis and Insights

 Download the Fire Dynamics Report HERE

INTRODUCTION:

Assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Fire Research Laboratory (FRL) was requested for a fire at 30 Dowling Circle by the Baltimore County Fire Investigation Division (FID) through the ATF Baltimore Field Division on the night of January 19, 2011.

ATF Fire Protection Engineers were asked to utilize engineering analysis methods, including computer fire modeling, to assist with determining the route of fire spread and the events that led to the firefighter MAYDAY and subsequent Line of Duty Death.

BACKGROUND:

Working closely with the Post Incident Analysis Team, the ATF Fire Research Laboratory created a computer simulation of the garden apartment building using Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS). FDS is a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling program developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

FDS utilizes mathematical calculations to predict the flow of heat, smoke and other products of fire. Smokeview, a post-processer computer program also produced by NIST, was then used to visualize the mathematical output from FDS. The most current available versions of both programs were used: FDS 5.5.3 and Smokeview 5.6. Below are photographs of the front and rear of the fire building next to an image of the same building constructed in FDS.

Figure 01. 30 Dowling Street

 

Figure 2. FDS representation of the front of 30 Dowling Circle showing the terrace (T), second (A) and third (B) levels.

 

The garden apartment building at 30 Dowling Circle was attached to two similar garden apartment buildings, one on each side. The fire damage was isolated to 30 Dowling Circle, so the exposure buildings were not included in the computer fire model. The entire six unit garden apartment building was modeled in FDS, including the patio and balconies on the rear of the building. FDS works by dividing a space into cubical “grid cells” for calculation purposes. FDS then computes various CFD calculations for each grid cell to predict the movement of mass, energy, momentum and species throughout a three-dimensional space.

The Dowling Circle model consisted of 2,560,000 total grid cells that were each 3.9 inch (10 cm) cubes. The model was used to simulate a total elapsed real time of 27.5 minutes, beginning before the 911 call and ending just after flashover of the third floor and the firefighter MAYDAY.

The model was synchronized in real time with the fireground audio throughout the duration of the fire.

Fiqure 03 and 04

FDS has been validated to predict the movement of heat and smoke throughout a compartment, however the accuracy of fire modeling depends on it being used appropriately by a trained user that is aware of its limitations. Due to lack of knowledge about the exact material properties for the various furnishings and other available fuels, a user-specified fire progression was used for this application.

For flame and fire gas movement after consumption of the original burning fuel packages, the fire model calculated smoke and ventilation flow paths through the building and was used to gain a better understanding of the rapid fire growth leading to flashover of the stairwell and third floor.

  • In addition, FDS was utilized to illustrate the complex route of fire spread through the building as verified by witness statements, firefighter interviews, photographs and burn patterns.
  • Input data for the computer model included heat release rate data and video from previous testing conducted by the ATF FRL and NIST.
  • Ambient weather data was also input into the model, including temperature, as well as wind direction and magnitude at the time of the fire. In addition, several alternative compartmentation scenarios were modeled to explore the possible effects of closed stairway apartment entrance doors on the spread of smoke and flames in the stairwell.
  • The statements of each firefighter were reviewed and their individual actions (breaking windows, opening doors, etc.) and observations (fire size, smoke conditions, etc.) were recorded on floor diagrams.

The actions and observations of the firefighters were then associated with specific times in the fireground audio to generate an overall event timeline. All events in the model are based on this master timeline of events. In addition, all photographs were time stamped and synchronized with the model. The Post Incident Analysis Team was consulted throughout the development of the event timeline and the computer fire model to ensure accuracy.

MODELING ANALYSIS:

1. Analysis of Fire Development in the Terrace Level

The fire originated on the stovetop of an occupied apartment on the right (south) side of the terrace level (apartment T2). Flames from a grease fire ignited kitchen cabinets, eventually causing the kitchen to flashover into the attached living room. Upon fire department arrival, a fully developed fire existed in the living room and kitchen of apartment T2. Prior to exiting the apartment, the occupant opened both the rear sliding door and the apartment entrance door in an attempt to ventilate smoke from the apartment.

 

Figure 06. A typical floor plan of the right side apartments at 30 Dowling Circle.

 

An analysis of the ventilation flow path through the apartment with FDS indicated that a significant unidirectional flow path existed up the stairs with an inlet at the rear terrace sliding door and outlet at the front apartment entrance door leading to the stairwell.

Figure 7. Smokeview frame of the rear of the building indicating the fire origin and smoke spread within the T2 apartment. Figure 8. View of smoke flow out of kitchen and open sliding glass door (center of photo) in the rear of apartment T2. Figure 9. Smokeview frame of flashover of the kitchen with flames extending into the living room. Flames also begin to extend out of the rear sliding door and impact the balcony above.

 

Figure 10. Ignition of second level balcony resulting from flame extension from living room.

 

This unidirectional flow path up the stairs is difficult to combat and is often experienced during basement fires as crews attempt to descend interior stairs. The model indicates sustained air temperatures in the stairwell of approximately 600 Fahrenheit (315 Celsius) at velocities of approximately 6 mph (2.7 m/s) from floor to ceiling as crews attempted to descend the stairs. This is consistent with statements from firefighting crews, who experienced extremely high heat conditions and indicated periodically seeing flames in the smoke layer flowing up the stairs.

The elevated air velocity of the stairwell flow path resulted in a high rate of convective energy transfer to the structural firefighting gear and high perceived temperatures as the firefighters attempted to descend the stairs. Firefighting crews flowed a hoseline down the stairs to combat the high temperatures; however no significant cooling was noticed by firefighters because the hose stream could not reach the seat of the fully developed fire in the kitchen area.

The crews were simply cooling the ventilation flow path without cooling the source of the energy in the apartment. It was not until a hose stream was directed through an exterior window and a portion of the fire was extinguished that gas temperatures and velocities began to decrease, allowing firefighters to make entry to the terrace apartment via the stairs.

Figure 12. Smokeview section frame showing unidirectional flow of approximately 600 Fahrenheit (315 Celsius) gases out of the stairwell entrance door

Front photo of unidirectional flow of smoke up stairwell from apartment T2. Note the high volume of smoke from floor to ceiling as the stairwell door serves as the flow path outlet. The ground ladder in the foreground was used to rescue an occupant on the third floor trapped by heavy smoke in the stairwell. (Refer to Figure 014)

Figure 014. Front photo of unidirectional flow of smoke up stairwell from apartment T2. Note the high volume of smoke from floor to ceiling as the stairwell door serves as the flow path outlet.

The first arriving engine, E-11, was staffed with a Captain, Lieutenant, Driver/Operator, and a Firefighter. Upon arrival at 1820 hours, the Captain gave a brief initial report describing a three story garden apartment with smoke showing from side Alpha: “The Captain of E-11 will have Command and we are initiating an aggressive interior attack with a 1 ¾” hand line”. Command also instructed the second due engine to bring him a supply line from the hydrant.

A female resident (victim # 1) appeared in a third floor apartment window, Alpha/Bravo side (Apt. B-1), yelled for assistance, and threatened to jump. Smoke or fire was visible from any of the third floor windows. At 1823 hours, Command advised Dispatch that he had a rescue and that he was establishing Limited Command. Fire Dispatch was in the process of upgrading the response profile to an apartment fire with rescue when the responding Battalion Chief requested that the fire box be upgraded to a fire rescue box. While the Firefighter and Lieutenant prepared for entry into the building, the Captain and Driver/Operator extended a ladder to the 3rd floor apartment window and rescued the resident. The first attempt by the Firefighter and Lieutenant to make entry into the side Alpha entrance was unsuccessful due to the extreme heat and smoke conditions.

The second due engine, E-10, arrived at 1823 with staffing of a Captain, Lieutenant, Driver/Operator, and a Firefighter. At 1823, E-10’s crew brought a 4″ supply line to E-11 from the hydrant at Deanwood Rd. and Dowling Circle and assisted the first-in crew with fire attack.

  • The Captain from E-10 conferred with Command and was instructed to advance a second 1 ¾” hand line.
  • The window to the first floor right apartment (Apt. T-2) was removed, and the second 1 ¾” line was advanced to the building by the crew of E-10.
  • Fire attack was initiated through the removed window. At 1827, Command requested a second alarm.

At this time, heat and smoke conditions just inside the front door improved enough to allow the Firefighter and Lieutenant from E-11 to make entry through the front door and into the stairwell. There they encountered heavy, thick black smoke and high heat conditions coming up the stairs from the terrace level apartment. The Lieutenant reported that the doorway to the first floor apartment was orange with fire and he had to fight his way through heavy heat and smoke conditions to attack the fire in the first floor right apartment (Apt. T-2). Entry was made approximately 3 feet into the doorway when the Firefighter’s low air alarm began to sound, and he exited the building. A member from E-10’s crew replaced the Firefighter from E-11 on the hose line.

At the same time, the Captain from E-11 proceeded to the rear of the structure to complete his initial 360 degree size up. He noted that there was fire emanating from the open sliding doors on the first floor Charlie/Delta apartment (Apt. T-2), extending to the balcony above. E-1, staffed by a Captain, Driver/Operator, and two Firefighters arrived and completed the hookup of the supply line that had been laid to the hydrant by E-10. The rest of Engine 1’s crew grabbed tools and an extension ladder and reported to the Charlie side of the building.

Figure 015 Charlie Side ( Rear) Extension

The Photo above referenced as Figure 015 shows conditions from rear of flames in apartment T2 and extension to the balcony above. Note the relative minimal volume of smoke as the sliding door serves as the inlet for ventilation into the apartment. The smoke and heat is flowing in from the rear, through the apartment and up the stairs.

This unidirectional flow path up the stairs is difficult to combat and is often experienced during basement fires as crews attempt to descend interior stairs.

  • The model indicates sustained air temperatures in the stairwell of approximately 600 Fahrenheit (315 Celsius) at velocities of approximately 6 mph (2.7 m/s) from floor to ceiling as crews attempted to descend the stairs.
  • This is consistent with statements from firefighting crews, who experienced extremely high heat conditions and indicated periodically seeing flames in the smoke layer flowing up the stairs.
  • The elevated air velocity of the stairwell flow path resulted in a high rate of convective energy transfer to the structural firefighting gear and high perceived temperatures as the firefighters attempted to descend the stairs.

Firefighting crews flowed a hoseline down the stairs to combat the high temperatures; however no significant cooling was noticed by firefighters because the hose stream could not reach the seat of the fully developed fire in the kitchen area.

The crews were simply cooling the ventilation flow path without cooling the source of the energy in the apartment.

It was not until a hose stream was directed through an exterior window and a portion of the fire was extinguished that gas temperatures and velocities began to decrease, allowing firefighters to make entry to the terrace apartment via the stairs.

Plan view of flow path and temperatures within the apartment. Note the location of the seat of the fire and the location of initial hose stream application down the stairs.

Figure 016

 

Photograph of hoselines being positioned at the stairwell entrance door and front window. Note the heavy smoke venting from all front openings in apartment T2. (Figure 017)

Figure 017 Alpha Side Entry Door

 

Figure 017 Hoselines being positioned at the stairwell entrance door and front window. Rapid Fire Progression Leading to Flashover of the Third LevelFlames extended upwards from the T2 apartment sliding door and ignited the rear balconies of the second and third level apartments above.
 
Fire on the second floor balcony extended into apartment A2 by failing the sliding glass door and igniting vertical plastic slat curtains that were suspended above.As crews searched within the second floor apartment, they noted seeing the burning curtains on the floor with flames extending to a nearby couch (containing polyurethane foam padding) adjacent to the sliding doorway.
 
The fire continued to grow unsuppressed and spread to a second couch as interior firefighting crews were engaged in rescuing two victims from the living room in the second floor apartment.Personnel stated that at this point fire conditions seemed to improve, suggesting that crews were making progress extinguishing the fire. (The first arriving attack crew reported that they were able to see apparatus lights through the sliding doors on Charlie side, which indicated to them that smoke and fire conditions were improving.)Truck 1, a tiller unit staffed by a Lieutenant, two Driver/Operators, and a Firefighter, arrived on side Alpha and immediately began search and rescue operations.
 
Windows on the second floor Alpha/Delta side apartment (Apt. A-2) were vented and ladders were thrown to gain access. T-8 arrived at the alley on side Charlie. E-1 extended a ground ladder to the third floor balcony on the Charlie/Bravo side of the structure (Apt. B-1), and made access to the apartment to search for additional victims.They noted fire venting from the first floor Charlie/Delta apartment (Apt. T-2) out of the sliding glass doors progressing upwards towards the balcony on the second floor.
 
Upon entering the apartment, they conducted a primary search and noted minimal heat with light smoke conditions.The crew accessed the hallway via the apartment entry door and noticed an increase in the temperature and the amount of smoke.They immediately closed the door and exited the apartment via the ground ladder.Upon exiting the apartment, E-1’s crew observed E-292 on the scene with a hand line extending into the apartment of origin, (first floor, Charlie/Delta side, Apt. T-2).
 
The officer on E-1 noted white smoke coming from the unit.Having already laid a supply line from the intersection of the alley and Deanwood Road, E-292’s crew extended a 1 ¾” hand line into the apartment of origin. Moderate fire conditions with zero visibility were encountered, and they reported feeling a great deal of heat on their knees as they crawled through the apartment.The Lieutenant and the Firefighter from Truck-1 entered Apartment A-2 via a second floor bedroom window (Alpha/Delta side) and began a search for additional victims. As they traversed the living room area they found an unconscious male resident (victim #2).
 
At 1836 hours, the Lieutenant notified Command via an urgent transmission that a victim had been located and they needed assistance with evacuation. The Lieutenant and Firefighter noted a small fire in the rear corner near the victim as they exited the room. The crew returned to the bedroom from which they had entered and closed the door behind them. Victim #2 was then evacuated from the apartment via a ground ladder through the bedroom window, and transferred to EMS personnel on side Alpha.
 
Figure 019 Flame extension and suppression efforts at the rear of the structure. Flames caused the second level glass slider to fail and ignite plastic curtains in the doorway located
 

Figure 019

 
 

The middle level apartment (A2) entrance door was opened by a second search crew around the same time as the second couch ignited, creating a ventilation flow path from the second floor balcony, through the apartment, and upwards into the stairwell (third floor). This flow path follows the same general route through the apartment and into the stairwell as was seen in the terrace level apartment below. Squad 303’s crew arrived on scene after the bulk of the fire in the terrace level apartment had been suppressed and appeared to be under control. The crew entered the front stairwell, which had minimal smoke up to the second level and the crew began to systematically search the building.

Squad 303’s crew proceeded to search two apartments before entering the third floor right side apartment to conduct a search, leaving the entrance door open. It should also be noted that carpeting impacted the bottom of the door and prevented the apartment entrance doors on the second and third levels from closing automatically. The entry doors had to be actively pushed closed to overcome the friction of the carpet.

Photo depicting building smoke and fire conditions around the arrival of Squad 303.

Note the lack of heavy smoke or fire in the stairwell or terrace level.

There is also no indication of the growing fire in the second (middle) level apartment.

When Squad 303’s crew of two firefighters entered the third level apartment (B2), smoke was banked about halfway down the walls with moderate visibility. The crew could clearly see the floor of the apartment without the need to crawl below the smoke layer to search. Squad 303’s crew was unaware of the flames spreading across the two couches in the second floor apartment below them. The crew split in order to search the apartment faster, with one firefighter searching the front bedrooms and the officer searching the kitchen and living room.

As flames in the second level began to rollover into the apartment entranceway, the smoke layer in the third level quickly dropped to the floor with a rapid increase in temperature. With Squad 303’s crew searching above, flames began to extend into the stairwell, supplied by sufficient ventilation flowing through the apartment. This combination of fuel, heat and oxygen rich fresh air resulted in a rapid increase in heat release rate and flashover of the second level apartment followed by full room involvement.

The open entrance doors on the second and third levels created a ventilation flow path through the second floor apartment, into the sealed stairwell and up through the third floor apartment directly above. The flames followed this flow path and extended from the second floor, through the stairwell and into the living room area of the third floor apartment. Flashover of the third floor occurred approximately 30 seconds after the second floor experienced flashover.

Figure 026 and 027
Rollover from the second level apartment into the stairwell.

 

 
 
Flames followed the ventilation flow path and extend into the third floor apartment, resulting in ignition of the couches just inside the doorway.

Command sounded the building evacuation tones as flames extended into the hallway and up to the third level apartment.

Two couches just inside the entrance door on the third level ignited, blocking the primary means of egress for both firefighters from Squad 303. Upon hearing the evacuation horns from the trucks, the second firefighter from Squad 303 (searching the front bedrooms) attempted to exit the apartment via the apartment entrance door, however he was blocked by flames in the living room and stairwell.

Trapped in the bedroom, the firefighter bailed out headfirst down a ground ladder on the front side from the third floor. Squad 303 officer’s means of egress through the apartment entrance door was also blocked by the flames in the living room and stairwell. There were no windows located in the rear of the apartment.

The only means of escape was the balcony slider, however the entire balcony was engulfed in flames from the fully involved apartment below. With both escape routes blocked by flames and experiencing extremely high heat conditions, Squad 303’s officer requested assistance and declared a MAYDAY from the rear of the third floor apartment.

Firefighters re-entered the structure to combat the fire and locate the trapped firefighter. The downed firefighter was eventually located on the third level just inside the sliding glass door and was removed to the rear balcony. The firefighter was then extricated in a stokes rescue basket down the aerial ladder of a truck located in the rear, where he was subsequently transported to the hospital.

Effects of Compartmentation on Fire Spread

The Post Incident Analysis Team requested that alternate modeling scenarios be conducted to explore the effects of compartmentation on fire spread throughout the building.

The team specifically wanted to know how the ventilation flow paths through the stairwell would differ if the second or third level apartment entry doors were shut after entering/leaving the apartments. Two alternate computer fire modeling scenarios were conducted.

The first alternative modeling run featured the exact same fire scenario, except the second (middle) level apartment door was closed after the last victim was removed from that apartment. The apartment entry doors from the stairwell were fire-rated doors constructed of solid wood.

  • As soon as the door is shut, the ventilation flow path through the apartment and up the stairwell is blocked.

 

Shutting the second level apartment door blocks the flow path and flame extension into the stairwell.

Even with the third floor apartment door left open, the model indicates that the stairwell and third floor remain tenable for firefighters. Flames eventually extend from the third floor balcony into the apartment, however the escape routes through the stairwell and the front apartment windows are accessible.

The model indicates that closing the second level apartment door prevents the flow of smoke, heat and other products of combustion from entering the stairwell, thus preventing flashover of the stairwell and the third level. As long as the second floor entry door remains shut, the model indicated that the conditions within the stairwell and third floor remain tenable for firefighters, even with the third floor apartment door open.

A second alternative modeling scenario was conducted where the third level entrance door was closed after crews made entry to search the apartment.The same fire conditions from the actual model were used.When the door remained closed, the outlet of the ventilation flow path was blocked at the top of the stairs. Without a complete flow path, there wasn’t sufficient oxygen flowing through the second floor apartment to support extended burning in the stairwell.

Consequently after flashover of the second floor, the flames in the stairwell only exist momentarily before consuming all available oxygen and becoming ventilation limited.The fire model indicated that temperatures within the third floor apartment stayed tenable for firefighters, even with a fully developed fire on the second floor and flames in the stairwell.

Flames would eventually extend up the rear balcony to the third level, however they would not block egress through the living room and front windows of the apartment.By closing the apartment door on the third floor and blocking the outlet for fire gases emanating from the second floor apartment, the third floor apartment remains tenable for firefighting crews and the temperatures only briefly spike in the stairwell before the fire becomes ventilation limited.The ventilation flow through the apartments results in an increased burning rate within both the second and third levels, as well as the stairwell.

Results of each modeling scenario describing extent of flame spread

Results of each modeling scenario describing extent of flame spread.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Effects of Compartmentation on Fire Damage to the StructureThe impact of compartmentation on fire and smoke spread is evident by examining the post-fire damage throughout the structure. While other factors contributed to the relative fire damage, including fire department overhaul and relative apartment configuration, analyzing the damage to the building and the position of the apartment entry doors provides insight on the benefits of compartmentation.

By closing apartment unit entrance doors and interior hollow core doors, one can slow or even block the ventilation flow path through the structure, thus significantly reducing the rate of fire spread. The photos below represent the post-fire damage in all six apartments within the fire building. Four of the six apartment entry doors were open for the majority of the fire and the relative difference in damage is clearly evident.

Terrace level stairwell landing looking into T1 (left) and T2 (right) apartments.

Door Closed……Door Open

 

 

Using doors to compartmentalize and limit fire and smoke spread in a structure is not limited to fire-rated entrance doors. Interior hollow core doors also offer considerable protection for compartmentation purposes.

A search crew utilizing the Vent, Enter and Search (VES) technique through a front window used a hollow core bedroom door to isolate themselves from the developing fire in the living room of apartment A2.

As the crews removed the second victim from the living room to the bedroom, they shut the bedroom hollow core door behind them.

The living room soon experienced flashover followed by full room involvement, however the bedroom remained isolated from the heat and smoke for the duration of the fire. The photos below illustrate this effective use of compartmentation to protect firefighters during a search.

 
Controling the Doors during VES

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SUMMARY:
While no fire model will exactly replicate a fire, this model provided insight on the route of fire spread, the rapid fire growth leading to flashover of the second and third level, and the benefits of compartmentation on slowing fire and smoke spread.
  • The unidirectional flow path up the stairs from the terrace level apartment resulted in a high rate of convective heat transfer to the firefighters initially attempting to descend the stairs, making attacking the seat of the fire very difficult.
  • The model then supported the fact that the main stairwell acted as an open channel for fire and smoke spread between the second and third levels, resulting in flashover of the third level in approximately 30 seconds after the second level.
  • This rapid fire growth leading to flashover is supported by photographs, witness statements and fireground audio.
  • The model was then utilized to explore the effects of compartmentation using apartment entrance doors.
  • The FDS model supported the scene observations and indicated that shutting the entrance doors blocked the flow of buoyancy driven fire gases through the structure, ultimately preventing fire extension to the third floor apartment via the stairwell.
  • The FDS model was utilized as part of the overall engineering analysis of this tragic fire and allowed for a better understanding of the events that led to the firefighter MAYDAY and subsequent Line of Duty Death.
  • The model was also used as an educational tool providing insight on potential methods of preventing similar tragedies in the future.
  • The results of this engineering analysis are intended to be reviewed by the Post Incident Analysis Team to assist in the creation of recommendations to mitigate the danger associated with future fire incidents.

References:

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Adaptive Fireground Management for Company and Command Officers: FDIC 2012 http://buildingsonfire.com/adaptive-fireground-management-for-company-and-command-officers-fdic-2012 http://buildingsonfire.com/adaptive-fireground-management-for-company-and-command-officers-fdic-2012#respond Sat, 24 Mar 2012 03:19:12 +0000 http://buildingsonfire.com/?p=2385

Here’s a promo for the program; “Adaptive Fireground Management for Company and Command Officers”: that will be presented at the Fire Department Instructors Conference- FDIC on Thursday April 19, 2012 10:30 am in Wabash 2. If you’re attending FDIC this year, plan to mark this program down as one of your stops. I look forward to meeting “youz guys”.

This class presents new insights into emerging concepts and methodologies related to the challenges that arise while fighting today’s structural fires today. Extreme fire behavior, building construction, and occupancy risk mandate new strategic, tactical, and operational modeling. Students will be introduced to a new integrated model that represents new methodologies for predictive risk management, command compression and resiliency, tactical patience, and five-star command theories. This program has direct relevancy to all operational levels and ranks with specific focus toward company- and command-level responsibilities. INTERMEDIATE

Adaptive Fireground Management-FDIC 2012

I’ll be posting some of my picks for must see FDIC programs later along wth some highlights of other programs that should be on your radar screen.

Dont Forget:

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FDIC Where Leaders Come to Train

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