Ground Shook Hard Enough To Knock Pedestrians Down
A BUILDING THAT WAS BEING DEMOLISHED in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Wednesday suddenly collapsed on its own at 10:45 am. A portion of a wall fell over onto a one-story building housing a Salvation Army thrift shop causing its destruction and burying a still-unknown number of employees and shoppers inside as well as on the sidewalk.
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125 PFD firefighters plus the USAR team and police dogs swarmed over the scene and worked in rotating shifts through the night searching for victims. This morning they retrieved a 61-yr.-old woman who had survived the concrete pile on her and she was taken to the hospital where she is being treated.
ABC News covered this part of the story in this video report:
As of this morning (Thursday) there were six confirmed fatalities and at least 14 injured, one critically.
Google Street View (before) and KYW-TV (after)
KYW-TV has this morning's late report HERE.
KYW-TV also has an 80-image photo gallery HERE.
A FORKLIFT OPERATOR ESCAPED WITH minor injuries Monday when the forklift he was riding suddenly dropped into a sinkhole in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Danny Rodriguez was working inside a warehouse that stores non-perishable food products when,around 12:30 pm, the 40-ft. diameter hole opened up, dropping him about 8 feet to the initial bottom of the hole. He was able to get himself out of the hole before the fire department arrived, and was transported to the hospital with back pains.
Witnesses described the hole as being 30 to 40 feet wide and six to 10 feet deep. It was filled with a dark, oily liquid that authorities later said was cooking oil and soy sauce that was being stored in the warehouse and fell into the hole when the floor gave way.
Rodriguez managed to get out without serious injury, authorities said.
"Fortunately for the operator, the forklift went straight down and didn’t tip to the side because then he could have really been hurt," said borough Police Chief Larry Minda.
Sarah Entena, the administrator for AM Express Freight, said Rodriguez has worked for the Carlstadt-based company for about 30 years — "He’s the best forklift driver we have," she said. "The forklift protected him" from drowning or serious physical harm, she added. "And thank God for that."
The warehouse is part of a nine-building attached complex and the local code inspector sealed off the warehouse along with the occupancies on each side until the building's owner is able to make corrective action to make it safe.
Later in the afternoon the incident was revised from "sinkhole" to "floor collapse" when it was determined that the floor collapsed into a sealed-off, and unknown to current occupants, basement.
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Do you get the creepie-crawlies when a snake suddenly comes slithering across your path? Most people do, it's a natural human emotion for some reason and the first instinct for many people is to flee before your brain tells you to settle down and don't sweat it. I will admit that I'm one of those who prefers to be in a different time zone when I come across a loose snake. But my first instinct is to grab something very sturdy and try to kill the danged thing. "Get outta' here!!" I've never had one in my house though, so I don't know how I would react to that, but the Tasmanian Devil comes to mind.
Fortunately for my sanity and my reputation, I have never been on one of those fire calls where the homeowner greets you at the door with a "Be careful, there is a 12-ft. python loose in the family room." For me that would definitely be an outside attack unless I had one of those fearless reptile handlers on my shift. He would immediately receive a battlefield promotion.
But what would you do if you were one of these brave, daring firefighters in Brighton, Colorado, who rolled up on a house fire last week and the front-step greeting included the info that there were about 8,000 snakes in the basement? Yes, that is the correct number of zeroes….. eight thousand. It turns out that the homeowners are professional snake breeders who supply retail stores while operating three such businesses for themselves.
In their report on the fire, tv channel CBS 4 posted:
The reptiles included several different types of snakes, pythons, tortoises, lizards and others. Some were not housed in cages and that created a unique challenge for firefighters working to rescue the animals.
"But they were also aggressive so that was another issue that we had to be concerned about. Apparently some of the breeds are more aggressive than others so we were very cautious in trying to deal with them," said Brighton Fire Department Chief Mark Bordane. "Thankfully most of them were caged. We only had a few loose snakes that we had to deal with but they were also aggressive."
Interestingly, the centerpoint of their business is Ball Pythons and Boa Constrictors. A local news website Denver Westword goes into more detail about this family and their unique occupation HERE.
CBS 4 also filed this video report from the fireground:
Firefighters will naturally notice that this McMansion is apparently (obviously?) built with that terrible lightweight construction, or what we here at Firegeezer call "wood chips and glue lumber." I say obviously because, just take a look, the fire started in the garage and this is what the first-in companies were faced with.
Compounding the high-risk factor is that this fairly-new subdivision does not have any hydrants. I wonder how much it cost the developers to get the permits for this neighborhood of firetraps?
And I'm wondering if anybody else even new about the snake farm operating in a residential area? Most places do not permit commercial activities in an area zoned for housing. If this operation was bootlegged in, then it is highly unlikely that the FD could have even been aware of this challenge.
That's a lot of food-for-thought when we get back to the day room where we can talk this over. Lots of what-if's and what-would-you-do's in this one. So lets get the equipment checked out and more coffee started so that we can tackle this training scenario. See you back in the day room.
Sometimes we tend to forget just how good things really are here in Western Civilization. But everytime I see a report like the one yesterday from Bangladesh, it slams home again. I'm referring to the collapse of the 8-story garment factory that had about 2,000 people working inside when it suddenly fell apart.
About once a month I post a story like this …… large buildings that just collapse, usually with people inside ….. and I don't even report on all of them. It is such a regular occurrence in India, Bangladesh, and China that it's almost a routine. And it is just about always one of those three countries.
Practically every time the cause lies with extremely slipshod construction. The last couple we have reported have been directly related to illegally adding more stories to an already existing building that is not built to take on that additional weight. About six or eight months ago it happened to a private hospital that catered to wealthy patients in India. There is obviously no oversight nor building inspections going on as they are constructed and I am certain that is due to the building officials being handsomely rewarded with bribes to ignore the whole process. Sometimes the city authorities didn't even know that a building had gone up on the site. Talk about looking the other way!
So far though, China is the only country that we have noticed where sometimes the building just falls over instead of collapsing. We have reported on that type of uh-oh more than once, by the way.
This kind of irresponsible behavior on the part of the building owners and the government officials is not only tolerated by those cultures, but is also expected. That's an entirely different way of life than ours, and I'm glad I'm not caught up in it.
We need to get caught up with our equipment check now (another alien practice), so let's get started with that while I fire up the reliable Bunn-O-Matic. See you back in the day room shortly.
UPDATE: As of late Thursday night the death toll has risen to 149. Scroll down.
A FACTORY BUILDING FILLED WITH an estimated 2,000 workers collapsed suddenly Wednesday morning in Savar, Bangladesh.
The 8-story building housed several garment producers where fabrics are cut and sewn into clothing that is primarily sold to U.S. retailers. The collapse was sudden and buried as many as 2,000 people, about 600 of whom were pulled out alive by passersby immediately after the collapse.
Workers in the Rana Plaza building said it had developed such severe cracks the day before that it had been reported on local news channels. They hesitated to enter the building Wednesday morning, said Abdur Rahim, who worked in a garment factory on the fifth floor. But a manager from the factory assured them there was no problem, so they went inside, he said.
"We started working. After about an hour or so the building collapsed suddenly," he said. He next remembered regaining consciousness outside the building.
Sumi, a 25-year-old worker who goes by one name, said she was sewing jeans on the fifth floor with at least 400 others when the building fell. "It collapsed all of a sudden," she said. "No shaking, no indication. It just collapsed on us."
Volunteer rescuers used rolls of fabric to jury-rig
rescue chutes for many survivors. (AFP)
She survived because she managed to reach a hole in the building through which rescuers pulled her out.
According to the PR director of a major hospital nearby, at least 87 people have been confirmed dead and he knows that approx. 600 others have been rescued.
The garment factories operated at full capacity 24 hours a day, so it is presumed that this building was fully occupied when it collapsed around 8:30 am.
The Telegraph has more HERE and provided this graphic raw video:
UPDATE 11 pm Thursday:
Late Thursday night (Eastern) the rising death count had reached 149 with many victims, both alive and dead, still trapped in the pile of concrete rubble.
Searchers worked through the night to cut holes in the jumbled mess of concrete with drills or their bare hands, passing water and flashlights to those pinned inside the building.
"I gave them whistles, water, torchlights. I heard them cry. We can't leave them behind this way," said fire official Abul Khayer.
On a visit to the site, Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir told reporters the building had violated construction codes and "the culprits would be punished."
Abdul Halim, an official with the engineering department in the Dhaka suburb of Savar, said the owner was originally allowed to construct a five-story building but he added another three stories illegally.
Local police chief Mohammaed Asaduzzaman said police and the government's Capital Development Authority have filed separate cases of negligence against the building owner.
AT LEAST 45 PEOPLE HAVE DIED and more than 50 others were injured Thursday evening in Mumbai (Bombay), India, when a partially-occupied building collapsed around them.
The combination apartment and commercial structure had four stories completed and mostly occupied while work continued to raise it to eight stories. The construction crews were working on the eighth floor when it all suddenly gave way.
The building was being constructed illegally without any permits or oversight. It is also suspected that the builder was using sub-standard materials and techniques in order to save time and money on the job.
Rescue workers with sledgehammers, gasoline-powered saws and hydraulic jacks struggled Friday to break through the tower of rubble in their search for possible survivors. Six bulldozers were brought to the scene.
"There may be (a) possibility people have been trapped inside right now," local police commissioner K.P. Raghuvanshi said Friday.
At the time of the collapse, between 100 and 150 people were in the building. Many were residents or construction workers, who were living at the site as they worked on it, said Sandeep Malvi, a spokesman for the (local) government.
More than 20 people remained missing Friday afternoon and three floors of the building remained to be searched, said R.S. Rajesh, an official with the National Disaster Response Force who was at the scene.
Building collapses are common in India as builders try to cut corners by using poor quality materials, and multi-storied structures are built with inadequate supervision. The massive demand for housing around India's cities and pervasive corruption allow builders to add unauthorized floors or build entirely illegal buildings.
The neighborhood where the building collapsed was part of a belt of more than 2,000 illegal structures that had sprung up in the area in recent years, said Malvi, the town spokesman.
BBC News tells us that witnesses say the construction of the building started just six weeks ago and in that time, seven floors were built rapidly and the eighth floor was under construction. Even though the construction was incomplete, the builder had allowed families to move in.
The Hindu is also reporting:
Alok Awasthi, Commandant of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), which has been pressed into service to assist the local police and civic administration in rescue efforts, said 59 people had been pulled out alive but some more survivors could still be trapped under the debris.
Cranes were being used to remove the rubble, floor-by-floor, to trace the survivors with the help of life detector sensors which could pick up signals from possible survivors from 70 metre deep, he said.
State-of-the-art equipment fitted with thermal cameras were being inserted into the wreckage after making holes to locate survivors and extricate them with gas cutters, Awasthi said.
"The presence of large number of people and noise are hampering rescue efforts as it is difficult for the sensors to pick up signals of existing life under such a huge wreckage," said the NDRF Commandant, whose team of 90 men is working round-the-clock, at the scene of the incident.
For more details read the entire story in The HinduHERE.
The police have registered a case of culpable homicide against the builder and the two owners. All of them have absconded and are being searched for.
This video report from NDTV does a good job of explaining the illegalities and corruptions associated with this building:
THE TOP TWO FLOORS OF AN 8-STORY office building in Shanghai, China, collapsed suddenly on Sunday morning. Fortunately it was in the middle of the night and no people are believed to have been in or around the building at the moment.
Dozens of police cars, fire engines and ambulances staged at the intersection while police, fire and other departments had entered the building surveying and searching for any trapped people.
The city officials are still puzzled over what caused the partial collapse without any previous warning that it was unstable. One of the local residents told China News: "This building is several decades old, how can it suddenly just fall down one night? It was lucky that it didn't fall on anyone." The city engineers are considering the possibility that a remodelng project on the upper floors may have taken out a load-bearing wall.
The Shanghaiist posted this video report taped shortly after the event (it is a collection of clips, so let the video run for the full two minutes):
Firefighters have found the bodies of a married couple in their 80s, a 54-year-old man and his 74-year-old aunt in Via Bagolino, a street in the area of Palermo's shipyards. The number of victims would have been higher if the firefighters had not ordered an immediate evacuation of the buildings after being called when residents heard strange noises and noticed cracks in walls were getting bigger.
"Today the noises worried us more than usual and we called the fire brigade, who immediately had us evacuate," said one of the survivors, Giuseppina Ferrara. "A few minutes later it all came down".
Twenty people were made homeless by the collapses. Palermo prosecutors have opened an investigation. City documents showed that some floors of the buildings had been constructed illegally without planning permission.
More specifically, it was learned that the top floor of one of the buildings was added on illegally early this year. Residents told La Repubblica that the owner had built a roof and walls over the communal terrace on the roof, and almost immediately cracks started showing up in the building's wall on all floors. The inspectors are looking to see if that added weight is what cause the collapse, and they added that the building owner could be facing manslaughter charges.
Read the full story (Italian) in La RepubblicaHERE.
Four people were rescued from under the rubble by the fire brigade, Vigili del Fuoco.
La Repubblica posted this unusual before-and-after dynamic image:
A CONSTRUCTION CRANE IN SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, caught on fire Tuesday morning at 10 am local time, and the uncontrollable fire eventually led to the cranes collapse with the boom landing across the roof of a nearby building.
The fire started in the generator on the platform that powers the unit. There were apparently some tell-tale actions that forewarned the workmen that something bad was going to happen, because they all scampered to safety, including the operator up on the boom.
Angry construction workers said they had walked off the job three weeks ago with safety concerns about the crane claiming it was dripping diesel.
"We asked for something to be done about it but nothing was done," union state secretary Brian Parker said.
A 20 metre boom crashed into the building earlier this morning. The crane is the biggest industrial crane in Sydney's city.
The workmen were working on the building when the crane exploded into flames.
"The crane was in the air and you just heard the cables snap one by one," a witness told the Daily Telegraph. "The crane then crashed into the building which the guys were working on."
100 people were evacuated from the site and another hundred were evacuated from the area. Emergency crew members said the position where the crane crashed is making it stable.
The crane driver ran down from the cabin just 10 minutes before the crane was engulfed by flames. About 1000 litres of diesel which powers the generator sparking the fire caused the cables to snap.
About 20 firefighters who attempted to climb the boom to extinguish the flames quickly ran down from the unsafe crane and instead allowed the fire to extinguish itself. At 11am, smoke was still issuing from the crane deck but the flames have since subsided.
Naturally, there were some videographers out there who captured the event:
As a side note, several have observed that this crane is owned by the same outfit that owns the infamous crane that failed and was left dangling over Broadway in NYC when Hurricane Sandy rolled through.
LAKE STATION, INDIANA, FIREHOUSE #2 experienced a partial building collapse Wednesday evening.
Sun-Times News Service
Videographer Mabas21 commented:
Fire station number two located at 3107 E 35th Ave in Lake Station collapsed onto engine 6 and the ceiling was coming down. Engine 6 was being pulled out of the building, but there was never any contact made between the engine or the building. All fire department members got out without injury. Engine 5 and rescue 10 were pulled out unharmed via the second bay. Engine 6 was pulled out after a front end loader lifted a beam and material off of it.
One of the trusses was laying across the pumper and that incidence may have prevented the rest of the roof from coming down.
Mabas21 posted this raw video taken right after the event:
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, HELD THEIR SEMI-ANNUAL high rise fire Sunday morning, this time in a 34-story apartment building.
The fire started around 1:30 am on one of the upper floors, then spread downward through the facade setting fires along the way following a pattern of several previous fires. Hundreds of fire and police responded to get the 600 residents evacuated as the fire burned unchecked for several hours until it was brought under control about 8 hours later.
It is not yet known how or why the fire got started, but it gutted the top three floors of the building and burned out several other apartments in the lower floors.
Many high-rise buildings in Dubai have been sheathed with decorative facade panels that are of a highly-flammable styrofoam type of material. They easily catch fire and it spreads through the void behind it, sometimes running the entire face of the building which usually does not have standpipes or fire pumps inside. They have one of these about every six months. The Khaleej Times reports:
Several residents took refuge in parking lots as firefighters tried to contain the blaze ravaging through the lower floor. Falling debris made the operation even more difficult as large chunks of the building façade melted and fell on cars parked below, which caught fire.
“From downstairs in Cluster X, we could hear the fire crackling, there were ashes floating everywhere and these huge, flaming chunks falling off the building, starting their own on-ground chaos. Facades of the building were just bursting into flames.”
This video taken by a citizen of today's fire shows the flaming chunks of facade dropping down the building, some starting new fires as they go:
The Khaleej Times has a good accounting of the fire HERE.
OUR FRIENDS IN CANADA are battling attempts by provincial legislators to cozy up to builders (they have that problem up there, too) who want to build mid-size office and apartment buildings with all-wood construction. One of the western provinces (don't quote me, but I think it's Alberta or BC) are now allowing 6-story occupancies of all-wood products.
We have already lost the battle down here against the so-called lightweight construction which we lovingly refer to as wood-chips-and-glue construction. Clad with colorful vinyl siding and kept cost-effective by not putting sprinklers in them, we already have out own instant-conflagration farms springing up all over.
Faithful FG reader George Crosby passes along these news clips from Anne Arundel County, Maryland, where their lawmakers love their home builders more than their constituents. Clip #1 was posted in the Odenton-Severn Patch on September 30:
Firefighters Sunday night spent hours battling a large blaze at an apartment complex in Odenton.
Odenton-Severn Patch / Estes
Lt. Cliff Kooser of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department said units responded at about 6 p.m. to the 2000 block of Military Place, just off Blue Water Boulevard. They found smoke and fire coming from the roof of a three-story, garden-style apartment building.
The fire escalated to two alarms, and there were more than 60 firefighters on the scene along with 25 pieces of equipment from as far away as Kent Island.
Firefighters were still fighting the blaze as of 9 p.m. Sunday.
Clip #2: Fast-forward to yesterday (Wednesday), same apartment project, same news source:
A fire has torn through an apartment building in Odenton, not far from where a blaze struck about a month ago. Fire officials said the fire affected about 12 units, displacing as many as 30 people.
Odenton-Severn Patch / Jenkins
The blaze began shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday near the 2000 block of Kintore Circle. Firefighters quickly entered the building to an effort to suppress the flames and find anyone inside, according to Division Chief Michael Cox of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department.
However, the fire spread to all three levels of the building, and firefighters were forced to battle the blaze from the outside using elevated water streams, Cox said.
Cox said it took 60 firefighters from the Anne Arundel County and the Fort Meade fire departments to get the fire under control.
Read this story with a 21-image photo gallery HERE.
There have been times in the past when this quality and informative website has been accused of "going into the toilet" occasionally for stories. Naturally, I strongly protest such unfair and demeaning descriptions of the noble work that we do here at Firegeezer. We always strive to bring the best news and lifting information that will help you advance along life's path.
But I have to admit that today we really are going into the toilet for some enlightenment, and to give you denigraters the chance to say "I told you so." There seems to be a growing practice not only in Europe, but in Australia and the U. S. to set up public toilets here and there that are housed in side panels of 2-way mirror glass. Sometimes they get away with it by calling it "art sculpture" or some such.
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But whatever it is, it certainly generates comment.
It also tends to bring out the derring-do or voyeurism in some of us because it can be quite disconcerting to be inside taking care of business while trusting that the mirror really works the way they promised you.
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Some of these things have been set up in bars where people tend to be more uninhibited, but you'd have to be really trusting to patronize one of these sidewalk locations. How about you? Would you be: a) comfortable; b) edgy; or c) a basket case using one of the reflective potties?
I think we'd better get comfortable checking out this equipment now. We want to be all set when we gotta go, too. See you back in the day room in a little while after I get more coffee going.
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Update, 3 pm: Plans have been made on how to resume the search. Scroll down.
ABOUT 90% OF A WAREHOUSE BUILDING'S ROOF collapsed Thursday night in Landover, Maryland. There were 25 employees inside at 10 pm when the roof came down, but most of them managed to escape safely.
One man is known to still be inside, trapped under the rubble. Early rescue operations were hindered by darkness and then early this morning the roof structure started shifting causing the Prince George's County firefighter to pull back temporarily. A structural engineer is now on the scene helping them to determine where and how to stabilize the wreckage so that they can continue.
The former Safeway Grocery distribution center is believed to being now used by a paper records storage firm and filled with rows of high shelving containing the documents. Currently it is thought that a forklift struck one of the shelves toppling it over and starting a domino effect bring many other down. The falling shelf units may have knocked enough structural supports down to trigger the roof collapse. This explanation is unconfirmed, but is being give serious consideration by the collapse teams.
WTTG-TV has filed this report from the scene:
The rescue crews have made three penetrations into the building, including one with K-9 teams, but at 5 am all interior searches were suspended when the structure began showing signs of collapsing further.
In addition to the full roof failure, two of the walls have buckled also. The adjoining warehouse next to it has been evacuated and kept quarantined for the time being.
Structural engineers arrived at the box-style warehouse in the 1500 block of Cabin Branch Drive Friday morning to determine how best to remove the partially collapsed wall that faces Sheriff Road, said Mark Brady, a Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department spokesman. The hope, he said, is that removing the wall will allow rescue crews to bring in heavy duty equipment so they can remove the piles of boxes and debris that are believed to have buried a worker Thursday night.
"We still look at this as a rescue," Brady said. "If we can take out a portion of that wall, we could access the area quicker."
So far, the rescue effort has been slow-going, hampered by the sheer magnitude of the collapse.
Brady said the warehouse, used by a document management company known as Recall, housed boxes of documents, stacked on shelves nearly 50 feet high and 100 yards long. When someone accidentally ran a fork lift into one of those shelves Thursday night, it started a "domino effect" of collapse, he said.
Shelves hit other shelves, then the support beam for the roof, Brady said. About 12 to 16 workers were able to evacuate, but one remained unaccounted for Thursday night, Brady said. Co-workers said they spotted him alone just moments before the collapse, which occurred in what rescuers are terming, "Aisle 6," Brady said. The area is now filled with so much debris that "it’s humanly impossible to access," Brady said.
Fire and Rescue officials announced at 2 pm that they were ready to resume the search. Two cranes have been brought in to remove the collapse debris, a process that they estimate will take about 5 hours to accomplish. WUSA-TV added:
In addition to the large amount of debris, firefighters are also dealing with Friday's heat. ( 100º + … ed.)Officials say they are trying their best to stay hydrated and when not doing a task they are sitting in an air condition room in the Pepsi Bottling Group building nearby. There are also misting tents. Pepsi is providing water while the Ladies Auxiliary Canteen unit of the Prince George's County Fire/Rescue Association and the Anne Arundel County Fire Alarmers are providing cold drinks and snacks.
WUSA-TV has an informative interview with Mark Brady who expands on the rescue plans that are now being instituted:
A SECTION OF A 5-STORY APARTMENT BUILDING suddenly collapsed early Sunday morning in Lutsk, Ukraine.
All photos via Volynska Gazeta
The section that fell away destroyed 8 apartments in the block-long building but fortunately only the outer rooms of the affected units were involved and most of the residents were able to survive. At least two bodies have been found so far and one woman was severely injured. Most of the residents were able to flee to the opposite side of the building where they were rescued by firefighters using ladders to the windows and balconies. Of the 50+ victims taken down, 18 of them were injured and and treated on the scene with two more taken to hospitals for treatment.
About 90 firefighters and 21 pieces of apparatus responded to the call at 4:25 am. The fire department's equivalent of a US&R team went quickly to work searching for any victims.
The Associated Press adds:
The cause of the disaster was not immediately known, but Ukraine's Channel 5 TV said authorities suspect unauthorized repair work being done in the building's basement.
Buildings frequently collapse in Ukraine, where infrastructure is outdated and safety rules are often neglected.
The building was constructed in 1971.
The Volnyska Gazeta has the story and more photos HERE.
This raw video documents the retrieval of one of the victims:
If Only More Fire Chiefs Would Do This – Cont'd.
Another fire chief has been added to the Firegeezer Hall of Fame for his unflinching forthrightness in telling his citizens the truth about the wood-chips-and-glue method of home construction. This follows our REPORT HERE on April 25 about the Ontario (Canada) Association of Fire Chiefs taking up the megaphone and loudly telling their residents about the deadly dangers of this cheap-o construction.
The community of Carmel, New York in Putnam County, was shaken earlier this month when a house fire killed a local police captain, his wife, and two of their three children. The prominently-known family's sudden and tragic death brought a lot of media coverage partially due to the extremely rapid burn of the house that went down a mere ten minutes after the fire started. Yes, it was built with the so-called lightweight construction method that the fire service abhors.
Carmel Fire Chief Bob Lipton held a press conference that same day and spoke the truth about the tragedy. WPIX-TV reported his words:
The Carmel Fire Department said the flames that early morning were unbeatable. Firefighters say it took a mere ten minutes for the Sullivan family home to catch fire, collapse, ad kill four out of five of them sleeping inside. The Carmel fire chief was quick to blame lightweight construction. It's uses inexpensive and popular building materials made of small bits of wood held together by glue and metal plates to fasten it all.
Carmel Fire Chief Bob Lipton wearily recounted the details of the home's undoing to reporters the day of the fire saying the walls gave way as metal fasteners popped off from heat. Once the walls started to buckle, the roof crashed down. It took a mere ten minutes Lipton said, and it's an all too common occurrence for homes built to code using engineered wood products.
AdditionaL fire companies we spoke with say they won't even put men onto the roof to try to knock flames down, fearful these new construction methods can lead to collapse in just minutes, as happened at the Sullivan family home.
The Sullivan family home a few hours after the fire began.
(Ossining – CrotonOnHudson Patch / Tarr photo)
Carmel's Fire Chief said the metal plates that are used instead of nails to create bonds between pieces of OSB actually heated up and popped off, causing the walls and roof to collapse. According to the Medical Examiner, the family all died from smoke inhalation–which is the other major problem with this less expensive lightweight construction.
Channel 11's story goes on to quote a prominent fire instructor who confirms the inherrant danger and then goes on to talk about the unique fire gasses that these products emit when they burn. "The gasses that are produced as the glue is consumed by the fire is toxic as well as flammable, so as the wood is burning it produces a toxic gas that burns even more. The resulting fires are 200% to 300% hotter. Plus the fire releases heat quicker. This is just a nasty toxic recipe for killing. It really is." he told the reporter.
Take a few moments to read the entire ARTICLE HERE. Not only is Chief Lipton doing his part in getting this message out, but we are starting to see some curiosity from the press about this stuff. Now is the time to grab them while they are listening. I recall that when the inexpensive home smoke detectors came onto the market in the early 1970's, there was a nationwide effort by our fire chiefs and FD press releases to get the newspapers and tv stations to always mention in their reports of house fires whether or not smoke detectors were installed. We are still seeing the success of that program, with a near-automatic inclusion of this vital information showing up in almost all residential fire reports now. ( Seat belt usage is seeing the same publicity success.)
It is time that we – all of us – mount a concerted campaign to include the fact that a particular building was constructed of this deadly method with every report. It begins right in the firehouse…. on scene interviews should always tell when that is the situation. The following press release from the FD must also state this. And the fire chiefs lay on the third message. When these are consistently included in the reports, then the press starts catching on and after a while they start inquiring about it and putting it in their stories. Come on… let's go!
Let's go to apparatus now and get the equipment check taken care of. It's Monday, so we work with the long form today. I'll put the Bunn-O-Matic on extra duty and get plenty of coffee ready. See you back in the digital day room in a little while.
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NHL Playoffs – Conference Championship Round
Western Conference – Los Angeles (8) vs. Phoenix (3)
Game One: Los Angeles – 4, Phoenix – 2.
Eastern Conference – New Jersey (6) vs. New York (1)
Game One Monday night 8 pm Eastern
At this past Wednesday's Morning Lineup HERE, I passed along to you a sample of the aggressive publicity program of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs that attacks the dangerous practice of the so-called "lightweight construction" methods that are currently being used. It has been pointed out to us that Chief Tom Beckett, of Kitchener, isn't alone in his mission, but is being actively supported by other Ontario chiefs such as Waterloo Deputy Chief Larry Brassard. Back in February D. C. Brassard was featured in a 3-part video report presented by CTV-News.
Again, they don't try to smooth things over, instead he tells it like it is and flat-out admits to the citizens that if they choose to live or work is such a death-trap, then they may not be seeing any firefighters inside attacking the blaze. The videos are good and graphic, getting the points across to the unknowing citizens who are unaware of the dangers of wood-chips-and-glue construction.
Deputy Chief Brassard goes on camera to
point out the dangers of "lightweight" construction.
Here are the links to the three reports that ran successively on CTV:
Firefighter Safety, part one In the first of a series, Max Wark looks at the concerns firefighters have about the roofs and flooring in new buildings.
Firefighter Safety, part two Second in a series, Max Wark explores engineered truss roofing and flooring and whether builders and manufacturers are aware of safety concerns.
Firefighter Safety, part three Final in a series, Max Wark follows the push by firefighting advocates for changes to the provincial building code.
CLICK HERE to go to the webpage and then click on the individual links to the videos on the upper right. They are not long, but well-constructed and informative. This is a good way to spend about 15 or 20 minutes of your Sunday morning.
After we get this equipment checked out, that is. Let's get going with that while I replenish the coffee pot. See you back in the day room in a little while.
I'm going to turn the first part of this morning's lineup to Firehat – Patrick Mahoney. He has an interesting observation and poses a question for you that I'm curious about, too. So, what have you got, Patrick?
Nearly everything we see about new construction discusses the hazards of lightweight materials and methods. Reading the literature, it's easy to conclude that they just don't build houses out of dimensional lumber and nails anymore. Here's the odd thing: in my area, southeast Texas where we have a lot of new construction, almost all the houses I see are being built the old-fashioned way. I was just having a conversation with a company officer in a department down the road and he's observed the same thing. We are at a loss for an explanation and we really aren't sure about when this trend started or if it is only regional (our region is experiencing some of the nation's greatest growth)
One hypothesis is that the nationwide housing bust has led to cheaper lumber, even here where things are still booming. I suppose that could make sense but I hope not. If that turns out to be the case we are only looking at an aberration that will be gone when things turn around. If this trend is here to stay then I am concerned we are emphasizing the dangers of lightweight construction in terms that lead us to think of all new construction as inherently firefighter-unfriendly.
So I put it to you: Are other departments noticing this? Does anyone have a definite explanation? Are we in danger of incorrectly sizing up a generation of buildings?
Firegeezer adds: While you're out on "wave patrol" this weekend, or whenever you can get out, please check out any recently-initiated home construction and see what's going up in your area and then let us know. Send your email reports to: geezerguys(at)yahoo(dot)com. Thanks.
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Before we adjourn, I want to post the 2nd-round schedule for the NHL Playoffs for you. The league was unable to complete the scheduling until after last night's two final games were played and the winners determined to move on up. The New York Rangers topped the Ottawa Senators 2-1 and advance to play Washington in the second round. New Jersey and Florida went into the 2nd overtime before New Jersey won the contest and series 3-2.
Here is the full second-round schedule courtesy of NHL.com:
Alright, let's get ready for our next round and get this equipment checked out for today. After I get more coffee ready, we'll meet back in the day room. See you there.
Solid wood construction might be making a comeback soon, but not like you would expect. A Canadian architect in British Columbia is proposing to build the world's tallest wooden building, a 10-story demonstration structure to showcase new technology in laminated wood construction. The architect, Michael Green says that it is possible now to build a 30-story high rise using wood beams and structural components, but this test building will show people that it is indeed possible to build it.
Michael Green's conceptual drawing of
a 30-story wood tower.
Green tells the Vancouver Sun:
Laminated wood beams and slabs — which can range up to 1.2 metres (four feet) wide, 18 centimetres (seven inches) thick and 19.5 metres (64 feet) long — have similar properties to concrete and steel and can be used to replace them in many cases. The resulting building would be lighter, comparable in cost and far more environmentally friendly than steel and concrete.
They would be more fire-resistant than wood-frame buildings, meeting the same requirements as concrete and steel buildings.
The cost of building a wood tower is comparable on a per-sq.-foot basis to concrete.
Green's inspiration grew from a concern about how much energy is used to create steel and concrete whereby utilizing a sustainable forest for timber takes a lot less energy. It helps too, that B. C. forests currently have a half-billion dead trees that are victim to the Mountain Pine beetle and need to be harvested within the next ten years to be salvageable.
Another advantage is the shorter time needed to put one of these things together, thus decreasing labor costs tremendously.
The National Post tells us that currently the tallest wood building in the world being occupied is a 9-story structure in London, UK:
(The) title of world’s tallest wood building belongs to 24 Murray Grove, a non-descript nine-storey apartment building in London, England. Of course, it would be hard to tell – since not a single panel of bare wood is visible from the street. "The developer didn’t want to advertise that it was a timber building," said Andrew Waugh, the building’s architect.
image provided by Michael Green
Builders had bought into Mr. Waugh’s pitch for a wood building purely because of cost-consideration. If constructed from wood, the building could be built for the exact same price as a concrete structure – but in a much shorter time frame. "We finished the building six months in advance of what it would have been if it was a concrete frame," said Mr. Waugh. Constructed entirely of pre-fabricated wood panels, the building was constructed by a team of four workers in only 27 days – and generated no more than a few trash cans of construction waste.
Like we keep saying here at Firegeezer, everything old is new again. If you want to read more about this new/old concept, here are some links for you to check out:
ADD THE MASSACHUSETTS BOARD OF BUILDING Regulations and Standards to your list ethically-challenged state agencies. Using the same sorry excuses that several other states have tried to peddle, the Massachusetts board has ignored public and firefighter safety by striking from the state building code the requirement that new home construction includes fire sprinklers.
"The BBRS is letting down the people of Massachusetts today and for generations to come by allowing substandard homes to be built in Massachusetts," said Ashburnham Chief Paul Zbikowski, president of the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts (FCAM) "Not only are they ignoring the minimum level of safety established by model codes, they are putting our firefighters unnecessarily in harms way."
All national model building codes include the requirement for fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family homes. The BBRS promulgated a building code for the Commonwealth in August and omitted the provision to require home fire sprinklers in new construction. The state fire marshal filed a proposal to allow local communities to be able to set the requirement if they chose to do so which the BBRS defeated at a February 14 meeting.
WFXT-TV Ch. 25 interviewed Chief Zbikowski this morning:
A FLASH-FREEZE IN THE STUTTGART, GERMANY, area Thursday evening caused chaos on the highways and more than 300 accidents. The most unusual wreck was a freight truck that suddenly slid off the road in Meiningen and jacknifed into a house with the truck cab crashing through a bedroom.
The 42-yr.-old truck driver was ejected from the cab during the crash and died on the scene from his injuries. The man and wife who were sleeping in the bedroom were unhurt.
Dieter and Heike Bohme, the unhappy but lucky couple
who were sleeping just feet away from the truck. (Bild)
The house was left unstable and ready to collapse. A police spokesman said that the house would have to be shored up and made safe before they could even try to move the truck away.
One of the newest members of the FireEMSBlogs family is the specialty blog Green Maltese. This very interesting website is published by Lt. John Shafer, Training Officer for the Greencastle, Indiana, Fire Department. John is also the Indiana Homeland Security District 7 Fire Training Coordinator, and in this capacity coordinates and facilitates firefighter training courses for firefighters through much of the State. Laurence interviewed Lt. Shafer and he tells us a little about his unique and interesting blog.
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Fireball Laurence Delorme: Why the name Green Maltese for your website?
John Shafer: I had started a Facebook page called Green Building Construction for the Fire Service, which is still up, by the way (please "LIKE" it, LOL). I was at FDIC 2011 and was given a wonderful opportunity by Christopher Hebert of Go>Forward Media to start a blog about Green Building Construction, but needed to come up with a name. So I thought it over for a day or two and came up with Green Maltese, since I was going to be covering Green Buildings for Fire Service and every firefighter wears a Maltese Cross on their uniforms. I had a Maltese Cross that was green with the recycle symbol made as the image for the site.
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LD: Why did you create such website? Would you say that there are more and more green building constructions in the USA?
JS: As I mentioned earlier, I had a Facebook page that I started to share information on as I did my research. What started my whole interest and research in Green Buildings was when I came across an article about Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) and I had never even heard of or seen one before. And I was the one teaching most all the building construction in my state’s homeland security district and considered myself fresh on the topic of building construction. So that was close to 7 or 8 years ago and that's what sparked me to began my research. I was quickly overwhelmed with a whole new world of buildings and green concepts that I had no clue of! I then became very studious of green buildings through internet searches. While doing many internet searches I realized at that time there was no place for firefighters to go to for the latest information on modern green buildings. I also realized that there wasn’t anyone in the mainstream fire media or conferences that were talking about it. So I set out to hopefully fill the void, although it took me several years to get to where I am now. And now there are several people and places that help firefighters become better informed on this subject.
Henrico County "Green" Station 7
DCH Architects design
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LD: What are the advantages of such a website for your readers?
JS: Well I hope the advantage will be that firefighters and instructors can have a place to go to for the latest information on green buildings and green concepts from a firefighter point of view. Another part of the website that I added that wasn’t part of the original plan was the Submit a Green Firehouse page. In my research I soon realized that many cities were building new green fire stations and I wanted a place where fire service leaders could come to and see what really worked in other cities that had built green stations. However this area hasn’t seen the submission i was hoping for. So if you know anyone that has a green station, please have them submit it so that others can learn from your projects instead of from slick salespeople.
Lt. John Shafer
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LD: According to you, in the green building constructions, which components/parts are the most dangerous for firefighters? Solar panels…..
JS: Most dangerous? Well I will not say there is one hazard more dangerous than another simply because there are many potential hazards and each one is a serious issue. Now as far as solar panels that is probably one area in the green movement that has the most written about it but there are many dangers and that is what I try and point out. There are also many newer construction types that we really don’t have much data on as far as fires in them. But I feel construction in SIP and Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) also have potential hazards as they make the building much more airtight.
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LD: Could you give some tips to firefighters who have to fight fires inside a green building construction?
JS: Most firefighters will probably not be aware that they are fighting a fire in a green building or newer building with green concepts unless they have preplanned the building ahead of time. So my word of advice would be to make sure you do a walkthrough of all the new buildings being constructed in your response area as they are being built. Otherwise you will not notice new green methods or materials being used. Once the building is finished and occupied it will look the same as any other building, although it will not likely behave the same way once on fire. Since the biggest push in green construction is energy efficiency. Firefighters need to keep in mind that if a building was built to be extremely airtight to keep heat and air in to save on energy bills, guess what? It is also going to keep all the heat and smoke inside while on fire. Making for extreme fire behavior conditions for us firefighters.
LD: Thank you, John.
Visit the Green Maltese website HERE.
John Shafer's trend-setting Facebook page is HERE.
Cincinnati "Green" Fire Station 51
(College Hill eNewsletter)
ABOUT 17 PEOPLE WERE SLIGHTLY INJURED Tuesday morning in Harlem, New York City, when a construction scaffold suddenly collapsed onto a bus next to the sidewalk.
New York Post
The btus was at a stop and the waiting passengers had just boarded when the structure came down, missing the near-victims by just moments. The scaffolding was covering a 5-story building on West 125th Street during a major renovation. The New York Timesreports:
A police spokesman at the scene said that eight of the injured people were passengers on the bus and that two police officers sustained minor injuries. He said it appeared from preliminary accounts that during work on the elevator shaft in building, bricks fell from building onto the scaffolding, knocking it down.
At the scene of the accident, a busy commercial strip lined with clothing stores and other retail stores, firefighters swarmed the bus and the collapsed scaffolding.
New York Times
The scaffold along with part of the building's facade came down without warning at 9:30 am, trapping the bus's 30 passengers. Fourteen of them were transported, all with minor injuries, along with two police officers who were already at the location and had immediately started to dig through the rubble. There are also reports that as many as four of the injuries were construction workers.
WABC-TV posted this video report:
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Google Street View of the 4- and 5-story building
that is being renovated.
If You Can't Trust Your Homebuilder, Who Can You Trust?
ON AUGUST 19, 2010, THE MAINE Building Codes and Standards Board met in Augusta and heard public testimony on the proposed new building code that would require residential sprinklers in new single-family homes. Excerpted from the minutes we read:
Mark Patterson, President of Maine Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Maine. (MHBRA). testifies: "MHBRA is not in favor of making sprinklers mandatory due to the costs which are estimated to be between $4,000 – $8,000."