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  • Fires in McDonald's

    Looking for info from U.S./Cananda fire departments who have responded to working fires in McDonald's Resturant buildings. Only respond if this building was a stand-alone type. Please describe conditions on 1st unit's arrival, what contributed to fire spead, and I hate to ask, is the building still standing? In my research I have found that these buildings, once attacked by fire, do not resist rapid fire spread. Looking for info. Thanks in advance.

    Bill Snyder
    Bel Air, MD

  • #2
    Does it have to be McDonald's or does Burger King count? Been in BK, and it was ugly!! Blowing out windows and through the roof in record time.

    I'm not completely sure the exact cause of these scenarios. As with everything else, I think we looking at a combination of things. The fire load with the greases and oils in the kitchen, the laminates found in all the counters, the tables, the plastics in all the chairs and trays, the stored items such as cases of "To Go" bags, cups, etc all combined with lightweight, "hurry up and build this thing" construction and an open floor plan are causing problems.

    Just one guys opinion. Curious to see others.

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    • #3
      a neighboring city had a fire at a mcdonalds a few years ago i think it was reported as in or near the kitchen it went to the roof and needless to say it's a vacant lot now

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      • #4
        Most, if not all, detached fast food structures, such as McDonalds, Wendy's and burger King, feature some type of lightweight trusses as a part of the roof system. They can be either wood or steel (bar joists). The wood type have been a major contributor to fire spread in some of the incidents that I have either seen or read about. The bar joist, although not combustable themselves, are still extremely dangerous in that they will begin to fail at around 1100 degrees; sooner if the roof is loaded with mechanical equipment. In two of the fires that I have been involved with in these types of structures (one McDonalds, the other Burger King), the fires were started by arsonists or vandels in the bathrooms, and quickly spread through the wall stud cavity to the open cockloft formed by the roof trusses.

        (by the way, according to the fire wire, Pennsgrove, NJ had a second alarm in a McDonalds just yesterday, I think)

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        • #5
          Check the AerialScope Website mentioned in another post. There is a picture of a scope dumping some serious gallons into a McDonald's

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          • #6
            I have first hand experience in building Burger King, Hardee's, and McDonald's restraunts. I've done the HVAC work for about 15 of these restaruants and every one is made with pre-fab wood trusses. The trusses are all about 2'6" deep and slope towards the middle. The trusses of course have the nail plates holding them together, so pretty much, if the fire gets to the trusses, it is going to spread, and probably collapse. Not good. From the front dining area to the coolers in the back the space above the suspended ceiling is all open.

            Hit these fast and good luck.

            Lee

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            • #7
              Hey fftrainer,
              Remember that fire at a BK in Union County? they had a LODD there. Very sad.

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              • #8
                My experiences with fires in fast food structures have shown that there was always a very serious delay in reporting the fire. Employees failed to use the kitchen fire suppression systems and instead attempted to combat the fire with water, milk, and soda. The employees had received no training for any emergencies (evacuation, reporting fire, getting out and staying out). The design of structure contributed to the avenues of fire and smoke spread, and also created collapse concerns. First arriving units were also confronted with a mass exodus of customer vehicles.

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                • #9
                  Don't forget the basement in these structures. We had an arson started in the storage racks filled with styrofoam trays and the like. What a brutal job of trying to make entry down the rear stairway and the fact that these buildings have cement floors the ventilation process was very frustrating. One way in-one way out. Luckily this restaurant was only three blocks from the station and it started just before closing time so employees notified FD right away. Can't imagine what it would have been like if there was a delayed response.

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                  • #10
                    I've personally seen it three times, but I still can't answer all your questions.

                    Incident 1, I was WORKING at the McD's in question, after close, and an employee spilled shortening from a fryer, which hit heating element. We immediately pulled the pull station, left, and called FD from pay phone in the parking lot. 2 min. response, 5 min stop, and the store was only closed 1 day! (Good job KCMO-FD).

                    Second, same store, auto alarm after hours. I wasn't working there anymore, but heard about it after. This one set off heat detectors, and was again stopped w/moderate roof damage. It was a common loft construction, and it did get up there and cook the roof pretty good, but because of auto-alarm it wasn't a total loss.

                    Third, a BK 6 blocks from my current house. 10pm, they were still open, and when I heard the call on the pager, I looked out. I could see smoke from my back door, before I heard the sirens. Roof collapse, and a week later it was scraped. It's now reopened in a totally new building on the same lot. I can't say for sure, but that one certainly looks like a delayed alarm.

                    I will say that I wasn't trained by McDs on what to do in the event of a kitchen fire. But, I was already a Jr, my dad was a Capt., so I think I did the right thing anyway (and I wasn't the only one!) Even if we hadn't, though, the auto-alarm seems to have done almost as well in the later fire (which started in accumulated grease in the vent hood, and only flared after everyone left).

                    So, talk to the fire prevention guys, and have them do training w/store managers (employees turn over too fast to be much good), and lobby local gov't for mandatory auto-alarms (heat, not smoke).

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                    • #11
                      Please don't forget the two Houston LODDs a few years ago. McDonalds I believe - arson to cover up theft. FFs caught in collapse.

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                      • #12
                        McDonald's employees not trained in emergency response? Shocking! Shoot, half of 'em aren't trained in how to speak English, much less battle grease fires.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by pyroknight:
                          McDonald's employees not trained in emergency response? Shocking! Shoot, half of 'em aren't trained in how to speak English, much less battle grease fires.
                          LOL. Good Point. We are privlidged enough to not have any fast food restaurants in our district. Just 2 small town Pizza Joints and Chineese place.

                          Matt

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                          • #14
                            Fast food restaurants are what you would call a "disposable buildings". Lightweight truss construction usually built on a slab, parapet walls hiding the hvac units and fryolator/grill ventilation on the roof, with a local fire alarm system. If there is no life hazard...surround and drown. It's not worth risking the lives of firefighters to save a disposable building.

                            ------------------
                            Firefighters: rising under adverse conditions to accept the challenge!
                            Captain Gonzo

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                            • #15
                              Actually there was a McDonalds fire over the river from me in New Jersey and the OIC didnt want them to make entry into it because there was alot of grease that just kept making the fire hotter and hotter so they just surrounded and drwoned it.

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