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Notre Dame fire

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  • Notre Dame fire

    Have any thoughts on this unusual fire? My first was Trump's tweet(s) and the reaction it got. In 35 years in the fire service I had only a couple of church fires, obviously nothing like this. Some buildings about as large. In nearly all, it was surround and drown mode, then sit for hours waiting for the remaining fire to run out of fuel. Because even elevated streams couldn't get water or enough of it on the seat of that remaining fire.

    I was also wondering about special problems posed by the roof(s) and roofing. I understood there was a lot of lead shingles involved, but I don't recall anyone mentioning it. There was a lot of acrid-looking, nasty yellow yellow smoke coming from the roof.

    I also saw some incredible photos on ABC News that are now making the rounds. I believe many of these were taken by a drone in the interior to check on firefighting progress, according to the report. A drone struck me as really the ticket for reconning a large open space like that.

    Back to Trump and those long days or nights babysitting embers. I always wished for a a tool -- like a specially-equipped track hoe or a chopper with a bucket -- to move collapsed roofs fire was hiding under or two just drown the fire, as the damage was already done and it was just expensive not healthy waiting for the thing to burn itself out. So when Notre Dame's roof was completely gone but the fire still burning intensely, I thought, "Hey, maybe that tweet about 'air tankers' wasn't so silly after all. Maybe a few buckets from a helicopter would do the trick."

  • #2
    Apparently the bulk of the damage was to the roof and supporting structure. The stone portion of the building survived intact. Some portion of damage to the roof may have been due to the collapse of the steeple.

    Getting sufficient water on the fire is definitely an issue with any church fire. It's that much worse when you've got lead/metal above and masonary below the supporting structure, making access to the burning material virtually impossible. I didn't see a lot of aerial devices in use in any of the images. Given appropriate access, one might expect to see a number of them in use. I'm not going to second guess their resources, or strategy.

    Calling in a hoe from a local municipality or a contractor is a common practice here, especially with the popularity of metal roofs through the years.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.


    • #3
      I've seen a few people comment in the past about using air drops, and NONE of them knew anything about firefighting. Trump isn't the first to make this kind of comment, he just has more people that want to attack anything he says. (and he says a lot...) Trump's comment is really insignificant, especially since his water drop comment was a question. Had someone on the other side asked the same question, nobody would've said boo.
      BTW, not a big Trump fan, I just don't have Trump Derangement Syndrome.

      It's great that they're going to rebuild, I just hope they install a sprinkler system. And EVERY historic site, building, and museum should take this as a wake up call to be prepared. When doing restoration of this magnitude, a standpipe system should be installed, even if temporarily.


      • #4
        Originally posted by tree68 View Post

        Getting sufficient water on the fire is definitely an issue with any church fire.
        As noted by LtTony, most of these fires need to burn down to a realistic application rate. Talk about large uncompartmented spaces! Then the actual fuel is mostly overhead. It is rare to see a church fire that hasn't been a large defensive job. The trick is not killing or injuring any brothers or sisters with unrealistic expectations. In this case, even greater dangers from collapsing staging/scaffolding.


        • #5
          Thake a look at the dimensions of the building and it presents a clearer picture of the difficulty in fighting this fire. (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Notre-Dame-de-Paris) The aerial ladders in Europe are primarily in the 30 meter (approx. 100 ft) and the roof structure is higher than the ladder reach. Most of the video I watched had master streams on aerial devices being lobbed up and over the walls. The access is compounded by the flying buttresses which make for a large setback from the streets. Take a look at the Cathedral on Google Earth. It gives you a good picture of the challenges faced by the Paris Firefighters.


          • #6
            It is amazing all the money spent to restore historic buildings, and fire protection is sometimes not included in protecting them.

            I think a museum in south America recently burned, and a lot of artifacts lost.

            Maybe not a full on fixed wing drop, put at least try some helicopter drops??? If they have them.



            • #7

              For decades, cathedral officials had resisted installing a fire suppression system in the attic space, fearing the effects of water on the historic structure?though as fire officials point out, the impact of a sprinkler system on the cathedral would be significantly less than a fire or the quantity of water used during firefighting operations. Working with the FDNY, along with sprinkler designers and installers, cathedral officials arrived at a solution that they believe provides an acceptable level of fire protection while accommodating the unique structural requirements of a venerable cultural landmark.




              • #8
                There is a constant push back against sprinklers. Most I think comes from the "Hollywood" idea that one head goes off the all go off. As I've said before, Hollywood owes the Fire Service and the public a series of PSA's promoting sprinklers for the damage they've done misrepresenting sprinklers over the years.

                We constantly hear people more concern with water damage that they believe to be imminent over fire which they're convinced is highly unlikely. Water damage can be fixed, fire damage cannot. And as pointed out, our fire streams immediately exceed the water flow of most sprinkler activations. The key is making sure the systems don't have unintentional activations.

                If we'd be more like Europe and publicly scold places who have accidental sprinkler activations, citing how the owners failure to ensure the heat was maintained in the winter or protect the heads from damage, or perform the required maintenance, we might get people to understand that properly installed and maintained sprinklers are the best protection.

                Of course installing sprinklers in existing structures is typically way more expensive and nearly impossible to hide, so unless there's an absolute requirement, they tend to be left out.


                • #9
                  I've long thought that one reason the building industry opposes sprinklers is because they would take business away. Just my opinion.

                  One thing about fire prevention is that we rarely hear of the successes. If someone moves a piece of overstuffed furniture away from a wood stove, or a sprinkler knocks out an incipient fire before it causes much (if any) damage, it doesn't make the news.

                  Know of a fire department that once got an excellent hit on a barn fire - ie, near zero damage despite an apparent arson try. TV News showed up, didn't see a smoking ruin, and left, without shooting any video.

                  As for the Cathedral, it would seem to me that since they have a round the clock watch, they could put in a dry pipe system and not charge it at all - make the control manual. Automatic would be the best option, but if they have a serious concern about accidental water damage, that might be an option...
                  Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

                  Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.


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