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Does the fire service, in general, risk safety too much at commerical fires?

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  • Captain Gonzo
    replied
    XXLdogg...this is why I consider a stand alone fast food building to be disposable.

    1. Lack of fire protection for the building. They may have a local alarm to warn the employees and customers of a fire... if someone pulls the hook. Why do they have the damn grill and fryolators hooked up to a fire supression system when the rest of the building goes unprotected?

    2. Construction methods. They are built on concrete slabs. They have lightweight steel and/or wood truss construction. Tons of HVAC and cooking area ventilation systems on the roof. They are cheap to build, fast to build, and can kill firefighters (Don't forget what happened in Houston..the LODD's of Kim Smith and Louis Mayo)

    In the case of an abandoned building, it has been considered disposable by it's previous owner.

    Leave a comment:


  • Dalmatian90
    replied
    Disposable? What nitwit made that up?

    Probably the same person who decided to put wood truss roofs in a commericial structure and not sprinkler the attic.

    Probably the same person who decided not to compartmentalize these buildings, so the Kitchen is totally open to the Serving and Dining areas.

    Leave a comment:


  • canman
    replied
    I like the way you think E229lt I agree go in and put the fire out and don't be [email protected]#$%around on the outside waiting for it to come to you. If conditions change while inside then go defensive,but until then go deep and hit em hard.

    Leave a comment:


  • XXLdogg
    replied
    I have 2 follow up comments:

    #1. I still can't buy into the disposable building concept. The only buildings we won't enter are those already gone upon arrival, or those that we have already had multiple fires at and know are unsafe; such as those long abandoned by owners, vacant, derelict, and boarded and blocked up.

    #2. I stopped at a chain fast food place this afternoon and got into a conversation with a young assistant manager. There are over 20 full time and 9 part time workers employed there. Their jobs mean as much to them as mine means to me and yours does to you. Commercial buildings = jobs.

    Disposable? What nitwit made that up?

    Leave a comment:


  • WTFDFF10
    replied
    My department uses this Risk Analysis for every fire:

    We will risk alot to save a life.

    We will risk a little to save property.

    We will risk nothing for that which is already lost.


    In my very humble opinion, if there is no occupancy then estimated time it's been burning and extent of involvement are the two main factors in an offensive/defensive decision.

    Just my 1/2 cent, Probies can't spare much more than that

    Leave a comment:


  • wrongWAY
    replied
    It seems everyone agrees that firefighting efforts should never put firefighter safety or lives at risk. There have also been some excellent theories as to why mistakes are made, and to how they can be avoided.

    It seems the disagreement is over firefighting efforts at disposable property.

    To me, an example of a disposable property would be a tire farm, a leaf collection site, a junk yard, a superfund site, or a sara site, and not a national chain store.

    I would never take any unnecessary risks and I would never order or ask anyone else to, but I couldn't look myself in the mirror if I let a property and jobs go up in smoke because they are a national chain and can buy and sell my fire department one hundred times over.

    Leave a comment:


  • Dalmatian90
    replied
    Halligan's point on approaching Commercial fires like residences is a good one -- and can be expanded.

    How many of us approach the new 2500 to 3000 square foot houses with 30x30' size living rooms...with the same hoselines/flows and crew sizes we've used to attack 1200 square foot ranch houses that used to be built in our area? Tactics vary by structure.

    As for saving jobs, again, it's relative. Yeah, maybe if the bathroom is fully involved you can save it.
    **ANY** fire beyond the control of a fire extinguisher in the Kitchen/Dining area will see the business shut down for at least a few weeks as they gut the interior. Any involvement of the roof? Bring in the excavators.

    With the exception of the frame, the interior, attic trusses, and roof is gonna be gutted and replaced -- along with all the appliances, counters, and HVAC by order of the Health Department. For the cost of framers for two days, it's cheaper to hire an excavator to knock the whole thing down and start with a clean slab. Guess what the insurance company will choose to do?

    Heck, it happens often with houses in our area -- truss roof ranch with any extension beyond a room & contents? The house will be knocked down and either rebuilt or more likely replaced with a modular by the insurance company. The houses however have lots of things insurance *can't* replace -- like your family bible & photos that an solid interior attack & salvage efforts can save. The local or small business can have it's business records saved. What are we trying to save in these buildings like a CVS or McD or any other suburban strip store that transmit their business records to HQ every day?

    Doesn't mean we write them off right away. But does mean there is less to save in them -- what's the phrase, Risk a lot to save a lot, Risk a little to save a little? What are we saving when we know the building is going to be totalled by the insurer and there's no intangibles like family heirlooms or business records inside?

    Leave a comment:


  • Chief79
    replied
    I think we are beginning to spend too much time teaching what we CAN"T do and not enought time on what we CAN do. Don't get me wrong, I am not for total disregard for the safety of anyone. We must take the necessary steps to provide as safe an environment as possible, but we must not lose sight of our goals. Quick notification, quick arrival, quick attack, will, in most cases allow us to enter and do some good. If we spend all our time teaching what we can't do we will instill a a totally defensive attitude for every alarm. This mindset will lead to a bit of a lazy attitude and that is when we are going to get people injured and killed. Think aggressive, but with control. We can't let our emotions run amok, but we must have a certain edge about us. I once received a complaint about some of the personnel on my department being arrogant and having the attitude that they were the best. Hell, that is exactly the type of people I want on my department. We will teach agressive tactics without overly exposing our personnel to undue dangers.

    Leave a comment:


  • FireLt1951
    replied
    Here in Detroit, we can't afford to lose commercials whether they are a McDonalds, QVC or any other chain that is loaded with assets or a simple Mom and Pop shop. They rarely rebuild in the same area here, if they rebuild at all. So if you choose an exterior attack and lose everything, you have lost jobs and income for the city and the department along with the property itself.

    I believe in the saftey of my crew first and foremost but we can usually get in fast enough to put the fire out from the interior.

    As the fire progresses, you make your decisions based on what is happening at that exact time and the possibilities of future problems arising.

    I will not stay outside and surround and drown a building unless I feel that it is our only viable and safe option.

    I've seen many commercial companies that have lost buildings decide not to rebuild and decide to move out to the burbs and leave the people and the jobs behind.

    Every building we save here is an asset to the community and the city, it is our jobs to protect that property along with any lives that are in danger.

    To stand outside and let a building burn to the ground just for the sheer fact that it can be considered "not worth it" is wrong. These buildings are important to the citizens and the city as a whole and therefore you do what must be done to save it while taking as many precautions as possible for the safety of the crews.

    As E229lt stated " We take risks at every call, thats our jobs. Now go put the fire out and do it quickly". Lt I couldn't agree more.

    Capt Gonzo, this is my 2 1/2 cents. I'm only a Lt.

    [ 09-02-2001: Message edited by: FireLt1951 ]

    [ 09-02-2001: Message edited by: FireLt1951 ]

    Leave a comment:


  • Captain Gonzo
    replied
    Each fire situation is different. I consider the stand alone fast food restaurant building to be disposable. If a fire were to occur there, and the building was lost, you can bet your sweet bippy that another new and improved improved version of that fast food restaurant would be built on that site within a month.

    A fire at Mickey D's during business hours...an aggressive attack coupled with search and rescue to make sure everyone is out. At 03:00 hours, unknown time of involvment, building well involved..it's an exterior attack.

    How about the commercial occupancy that you constantly cite for code violations? They either complain to the mayor, city council or board of selectman, who in turn give you grief for you look like the bad guy for "harassing a businessman and taxpayer". They clean up their act on a temporary basis and go back to the "same old same old" or just ignore your efforts until you are forced to come up with a cease and desist order. It's obvious that they only care about making a profit and do not care about the safety of their workers, clients or that of your firefighters. We (and I am using the corporate "we" here) know the job is to fight the fire should it occur, and we will do it to the best of our ability, but we also have to look out for our safety and not risk the lives of our personnel in a situation where the outcome is marginal.

    Put the fire out...yes.
    Do it safely? yes.
    Risk our personnel for a lost cause? No way!

    [ 09-02-2001: Message edited by: Captain Gonzo ]

    Leave a comment:


  • XXLdogg
    replied
    Halligan84 hits the nail on the head about the problems we firefighters often make for ourselves by attacking commercial property fires with a house/apartment mindset, and I agree that experience is the key factor to determining the actions that will and will not be taken.

    What I don't understand this disposable building concept.

    Should I rethink tactics for fires at my national chain stores like A&Ps, Post Offices, CVSs, RiteAids, Nathans, and Pizza Huts?

    I really don't want to do that because what we have been doing here seems to work. The bell goes off and then we put out the fire. We don't read the Wall Street Journal first and we don't care who owns what.

    Leave a comment:


  • Break-N-Entry
    replied
    I think that THE KEY word in this thread is in RRR's message: EXPERIENCE.

    While training, conditions, resources are equally important, it's ultimatley your or your commander's EXPERIENCE that will make the call to enter or surround and drown.

    Whoever said "You can't throw a book at a fire" was right.

    + + + + + + + + + +

    Is Micky D's a "disposable building?"

    Apparently it is to someone who believes there is a greater benefit to saving a small locally owned similar property instead.

    When did firefighters start taking ownership or owner's profits into the fire suppression decision process?

    Fire is fire - and unless there is a risk to firefighters - our duty is to put it out.

    duty

    Leave a comment:


  • RRR
    replied
    All great points on this. Billy, I just want to tell you that I am all for interior attacks on both residential and commericial fires, whether you are 100% sure there is noone inside or 100% sure there is or anywhere in between (you may not know 100% for sure about anything, but based on the best knowledge at hand, etc.).

    But here is the BUT. It still seems that at times things are pushed a little too much. Use the McDonald's example as a specific argument model. A McD's that is in its own seperate building, absolutely no chance of spread to other structures, etc. It is a good working fire, the officer in charge is thinking. He/she is thinking that it is safe enough to attempt an atleast super quick interior attack even if the guys only get in 6, 8, 10 feet or less. Guys on roof too. Yes, everything is based on judgement, which is based on experience, training, the conditions, etc. but these judgements seem to sometimes teeter too close to the line *for what you've got*. What you've got is a building that will be rebuilt and life will move on for the owners and employees or you can have injured or killed firefighters with the same result; the building is rebuilt or repaired and life moves on for the owners and employees. Albeit, in this case you have a huge international company that has more money than french fries maybe and I'm not sure about details regarding corporate owned via franchise owned, etc.

    I'm not saying to stand back and let the place burn down but to still try the best possible but maybe not have the guys go in if conditions are close to not allowing this anyway.

    Same old story, I know every situation is different, conditions must dictate, etc. but I just hope some understand what I am trying to talk about.

    [ 09-02-2001: Message edited by: RRR ]

    Leave a comment:


  • TriTownship600
    replied
    Many, many good points here.
    I agree with RRR. It's my opinion that some departments do take too many chances, others don't take enough.

    I'm all for aggressive interior attacks. It is the most effective way to fight the fire.

    However, it shouldn't matter if it's a home or a comercial building. Don't fight a battle you can not win. The risk v. gain must remain constantly in focus.

    Stay Safe..God Bless

    [ 09-01-2001: Message edited by: TriTownship600 ]

    Leave a comment:


  • Piet Tosh
    replied
    All good thought provoking points so far; but isn't a commercial property more than just walls and contents?

    It's jobs too.

    Those employed at a McDonalds (or at another place that some of us may think are are disposable properties) aren't working there just to get funny stories for a book they're writing ... they need those paychecks, and some need them desperatley, barely making it from week to week.

    For others a commercial property may have been a lifetime investment of 18 hour plus days, heartache, and lots of blood sweat and tears.

    I own a business that took a long time to build, and I have employees that need to work. Yeah, there's insurance for me and unemployment for my workers, but unemployment will never take the place of a real paycheck.

    I pay over $8,000 in city taxes, licenses, rail fees, and so on (not to mention all the donations that the little league and volunteer fire/EMS and PBA hit me for - no real complaint there) and I believe I am paying for fire protection.

    As a volunteer firefighter I don't want anyone taking unnecessary crazy risks to save my business, just common sense safe firefighting.

    Leave a comment:

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