NFPA Journal - March/April 2013 - (Page 18)

>> FIREWATCH from our files by Ken Tremblay Firefighters in Washington state douse the burned-out second floor of an office building. The structure had no fire alarms or sprinklers. Mercantile Fire heavily damages office building WASHINGTON—A two-story office building covering an area of approximately 16,000 square feet (1,486 square meters) was heavily damaged by a fire that began in a concealed roof void and spread undetected until it was discovered by a passerby. The wood-frame building, which had a flat, wood truss roof covered with a built-up surface, had no fire alarms or sprinklers. The passerby reported smoke coming from the building at 5:31 a.m., and firefighters arriving five minutes later found low-hanging smoke covering the roadway near the building. During his initial size-up, the officer reported smoke coming from the roof and visible through the glass on the second floor. Using a thermal imaging 18 NFPA JOURNAL MARCH/APRIL 2013 camera, he also noted significant heat build-up near the ceiling and roof. Crews advanced a hose line up a stairwell in the atrium to the second floor, where they encountered heavy smoke and an orange glow near the floor. A quick blast of water knocked the fire down, but visibility dropped sharply as the smoke increased. When firefighters heard what sounded like a collapsing roof, they retreated and called for ventilation. Using a positive-pressure fan to clear away the smoke, firefighters laid additional hose lines and pulled down the ceiling in an attempt to locate the seat of the fire. As they moved toward a corner of the building, they found fire at the ceiling. A glued, laminated ceiling beam had partially collapsed, and fire consumed an office. Firefighters’ attempts to knock the office fire down were unsuccessful. Crews had just changed their air cylinders and returned to the building with larger hose lines when the incident commander ordered everyone from the building. Once all personnel were accounted for, the commander ordered all hose lines to be positioned defensively. By the time the fire was finally brought under control several hours later, nearly the entire roof had burned off or collapsed into the second floor. Only a small section remained undamaged near the atrium. Portions of the second floor also collapsed into the first floor. Investigators discovered that the fire began in the ceiling above an office, but they couldn’t determine the cause of the fire due to the extent of damage. The building, valued at $2 million, and its contents, valued at $750,000, were destroyed. One firefighter suffered a minor injury. Photograph: KEN LAMBERT/The Seattle Times

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NFPA Journal - March/April 2013

NFPA Journal - March/April 2013
First Word
In a Flash
Heads Up
Structural Ops
In Compliance
Electrical Safety
Wildfire Watch
Cover Story: Storage Occupancies
Fifty Years of Smoke Detection
Industrial Occupancies
Chicago 2013
Fire Analysis + Research
Section Spotlight
What’s Hot
Looking Back

NFPA Journal - March/April 2013