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Garden Apartment Fires

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  • Garden Apartment Fires

    I would like some input from you on tactical and safety concerns or considerations for fighting fires in garden style apartments. Also what would be some good strategy considerations for this type fire. Your input would be greatly appreciated.

    R. Kay
    Toledo, Ohio

    [This message has been edited by WTFD730 (edited February 01, 2000).]

  • #2
    Good Topic!

    We have lots of them, mainly constructed in the 60's and 70's.

    Fire Spread - Vertical spread due to stacked kitchens and bathrooms is a problem through pipe chases. Multiple hoselines and lots of truck work are necessary. Auto-exposure through exterior combustible siding and "mansard" type roofs is a problem too.
    We try to make our line priorities 1 to the fire apartment, 2 to the floor above and 3 to the top floor (with back up where necessary) Top floor fires with extension require placement to the side exposures.
    Hitting the fire apartment heavy and hard and opening everything up is the basic plan. The thermal imaging camera helps alot too in these cases.

    Horizontal spread between fire apartments usually isn't too bad, but fires that gain control of a cockloft are a nightmare. Trench cuts take forever and the layout of the building doesn't always dictate their use. Lots of members with hooks in the exposures and lines as well.

    Access to the fire building - Parked cars, lots of em. Buildings set back from the roadway and up on hills or arranged in courtyards with landscaping for aesthetic purposes cause longer than normal and difficult hose stretches.

    Common areas - Common stairways with 16 apartments on 4 floors cause us some problems when a door is opened on a lower floor. Need to control openings and allow tenants to self evacuate.

    Forcible entry - multiple steel doors with heavy or numerous locks present. Hydraulic door openers are a lifesaver (so are GOOD maintenance men who get you the keys on the way in!)

    Transient population - This includes squatters who may not be so likely to let you know they are there, tenants that are used to malicious alarms reluctant to leave the building until evacuated by the FD. Tenants cooking anything and everything at all hours, parties, intoxicated tenants, even tenants overhauling motorcycles in their living rooms can make life interesting in these places.


    • #3
      Halligan 84 just about said it all, but there is another problem....people with propane gas grilles on the balconies. No matter how much you enforce your fire codes pertaining to gas grilles on balconies. codes, the people keep putting them up there. Just another problem to deal with!

      Take care and be safe...Lt. Gonzo


      • #4
        Some of the items to consider for an operation at a Garden Apartment Complex:
        (Pre-Fire Planning is a must to ID site hazards in advance.)
        1)Accessibility - buildings are often away from the street and may prevent pre-connected hoselines from reaching the upper floors.Parking may prevent proper apparatus placement. Streets may be to narrow for apparatus to pass each other.
        2)Water - There may be a shortage of hydrants and probably not in the best location. Once a line is layed or a pumper hooks to a hydrant it may block access by other apparatus. What size is the main feeding the hydrants? Is there enough water? Is it a dead end main? Is it a hydrant that has been flowed and serviced on a annual basis?
        3)Building Construction - as stated previously plumbing and wiring holes may have been improperly sealed. Floor to floor shafts in bathrooms and kithcens due to fan ventilation systems. This will allow fire to spread to the loft area.

        Fire Attack - Stay ahead of the fire.
        *Occupants in danger? Have a line to protect stairwell.
        *Location of the fire
        *Where to vetilate
        *Adequate water supply
        *Position of attack lines
        Get an attack line on the fire w/ a backup line. Next line to floor above. Then if manpower is available get a line on the side apartments to the fire. CHECK FOR EXTENTION INTO THE ATTIC AREA ASAP!
        Size of attack line depends on volume of fire.


        • #5
          All the prvious post are dead on. I would suggest if your the first due in engine,grab a hook on the way up to the fire .In Atlanta most of are Trucks are tiller style , this allows for only the Captain to be fully dressed on arrival.I will usually grab a 6'hook and try to get some cieling down in the stairwell and see if the fire is walking through the attic if the fire is on the top floor,if not I'll pull in the fire Apt first.

          The other big consideration is to keep a mental time clock.Rember most new Apt buildings have good ol trust,and a **** loft on every floor.A good pre-plan when these things are being built is always the best idea.After 20 min and no progress,it may be time to bail.
          Good Luck and be safe.


          • #6
            Murphy's Law(s)on Garden Apartment Firefighting:
            1. If there is a court yard, the fire will be at the very top of it. To deal with this problem, our department has outfitted all of our pupmers with 300' of 2 1/2 line with a water thief at the end and a high rise pack right along side of it. If you're going to need multiple lines (and you almost always will) it makes a lot more sense to make just one long stretch.
            2. Pipe chases. It isn't uncommon in a two story garden apartment to have four seperate apartments abutting one pipe chase. Be ready for fire spread, check the cockloft early, if there is any question at all as to wheather or not the fire has gotten there, OPEN THE ROOF.
            3. Often, there is only one exterior door for four apartments, this can be a nightmare if that exterior door opens inward and blocks an apartment door, may not be a bad idea to take this door off the hinges both for hand line advancement and also quick egress. If you're there as a FAST team, doing this can save you a lot of time & grief if things start going south.
            4. Be ready for the slob. We had one call where we made entry into an apartment to find a maze of 2' wide paths throughout an apartment full of junk stacked 4' high (no exageration). If you're doing search and rescue, this is where you want to use that 30-40' of rope in your pocket.
            Hope this helped...Good Luck and Stay Safe,


            • #7
              I can't add anything the brothers haven't already said...

              Well, one thing... go ahead and put the suction through the cop's car windows that is parked in front of the hydrant... ones we've had (that were still occupied), you're gonna need that cop there anyway to control the bystanders, might as well commit him to the scene.


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