Parapet Walls – Firefighter Killers
Jason Poremba Firefighterspot.com
Firefighters are faced with many dangers when on the job. If we study past fatal firefighter incidents, history will tell us parapet walls are proven killers during fireground operations. A few basic concepts can protect firefighters from future parapet-related fatalities.
Most importantly, fire departments should establish and implement written standard operating procedures when operating on the fireground. These guidelines are critical for setting the tone and the path for conducting emergency operations, and will also increase the effectiveness of the firefighters, officers, and command structure.
Next, officers and firefighters must continuously analyze the building to identify collapse potential. When fire is involved, the threat for collapse should always be considered.
Understanding building construction is critical. Stress should be placed not only on situational awareness and continual size-up, but response size-up. Know your response area and know the related building construction within it. This will help expedite decisions during emergency operations.
During operations, we must take special note of factors that may signal potential collapse of a parapet wall. These may include bulging or cracked masonry walls, a wavy or curved appearance to a normally straight surface, unlevel top parapet ledge, failed connections, or separations between parapet wall and side wall, and parapet wall and flat roof.
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