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Chapter 07-High-Rise Building Fires
 

Chapter 07-High-Rise Building Fires

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• Understand and explain why high-rise buildings present a difficult and different fire problem for firefighters, including the unique fire behavior problems that may be encountered in a high-rise ...

• Understand and explain why high-rise buildings present a difficult and different fire problem for firefighters, including the unique fire behavior problems that may be encountered in a high-rise fire
• Recognize the difference in construction methods of high-rise buildings and explain how different construction materials and designs impact fire behavior in these buildings
• Describe the fire fighting strategies and tactics used to locate, confine, and extinguish high-rise fires
• Describe the special problems that may be encountered on high-rise fires such as communications issues, the stack effect, ventilation concerns, evacuation issues, and elevator control
• Describe and explain the purpose of the special fire protection equipment which may be found in high-rise buildings
• Describe when a stairwell support system may be needed

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    Chapter 07-High-Rise Building Fires Chapter 07-High-Rise Building Fires Presentation Transcript

    • High-Rise Building Fires Chapter 7
    • Objectives
      • Understand and explain why high-rise buildings present a difficult and different fire problem for firefighters, including the unique fire behavior problems that may be encountered in a high-rise fire
      • Recognize the difference in construction methods of high-rise buildings and explain how different construction materials and designs impact fire behavior in these buildings
    • Objectives (cont’d.)
      • Describe the fire fighting strategies and tactics used to locate, confine, and extinguish high-rise fires
      • Describe the special problems that may be encountered on high-rise fires such as communications issues, the stack effect, ventilation concerns, evacuation issues, and elevator control
    • Objectives (cont’d.)
      • Describe and explain the purpose of the special fire protection equipment which may be found in high-rise buildings
      • Describe when a stairwell support system may be needed
    • Introduction
      • As cost of land increases, building upwards instead of outwards is more popular
      • Codes for high-rises vary throughout the country
      • High-rises present special conditions and problems for firefighters that will be discussed throughout this chapter
    • High-Rise Buildings
      • From 1996 to 1998: 15,500 high-rise fires in U.S., $252.3 million in annual property loss, 930 civilian injuries including 60 civilian deaths.
      • Residential fires usually contained in one room, opposite for manufacturing, industrial fires
      • Construction and design divided into three time periods
      • Figure 7-1 Fire in high-rise buildings
      • can present firefighters with unique challenges.
    • Early Fire-Resistive Buildings (1870 to 1920)
      • Little or no concern for fire safety
      • Floors supported by concrete piers
        • Created open void space where fire/heated gases could move underneath the structure
      • Terra cotta tile to provide fire resistance
      • Water supply line installations too small
      • Careful planning and risk assessment required
    • High-Rise Construction (1920 to 1960)
      • Have features not found in earlier or later construction
      • Steel framed and tiled with concrete or masonry
      • Windows can be opened and leak air for ventilation
      • Example: Empire State Building
    • High-Rise Buildings Constructed after 1960
      • Modern steel and glass buildings found in most downtown areas
      • Characteristics of these high-rises:
        • Gypsum board: used in interior finishes for walls and ceilings
        • Lightweight concrete: blown onto metal to provide a coat of fire-resistive material
        • Central core construction: elevators, stairs, and support systems are located in center of building
    • High-Rise Buildings Constructed after 1960 (cont’d.)
      • HVAC systems may have to be shut down and windows broken during fires
        • Fire dampers installed to prevent fire and heated gases from circulating in other parts of buildings
        • Knowledge of the specific building system needed
        • Pre-planning with building maintenance should be sought
    • High-Rise Buildings Constructed after 1960 (cont’d.) Figure 7-6 Central core floor plan for high-rise building
    • Stack Effect
      • Natural movement of air within a tall building caused by temperature difference between outside and inside of building
        • Becomes stronger as the building gets taller and the temperature difference becomes greater
      • Stratification location: when light heated air flows upward and reaches a point where it is same temperature/weight as surrounding air
      • Figure 7-7 Stratification inside a high-rise building
    • Ventilation
      • Planned and systematic removal of smoke, heat, and gases from a structure
      • Traditional ventilation not always available in high-rises
      • If no horizontal ventilation:
        • Enclosed stairwell can be used
        • Hold open door on fire floor into stairwell
        • Use positive air pressure fans (with caution)
    • Elevators
      • Elevator use has caused grave injuries or death in the past
      • Used when fire is higher than sixth floor
      • Remotely located elevators may be used
      • Knowledge of policies and procedures is necessary
    • Use of Elevator Systems
      • Manual control system
        • Phase 1
          • Brings cars to the lobby or designated place nonstop
        • Phase 2
          • Manually control elevator from inside car
        • Phase 3
          • If lobby smoke alarm is activated, cars will not return there, but this will show designated floor in that event
    • Stairwells
      • If elevators are unsafe, use of stairwell support procedure is implemented
        • Teams stationed two floors apart in stairwell
        • First team carries equipment up two floors to waiting firefighters
        • Second team carries it up two more floors
        • First team descends and rests while waiting to carry and pass on additional equipment
    • Pressurized Stairwells
      • Designed to provide occupants and firefighters a smoke-free environment while moving within the stairwell
        • Enclose the stairwell tightly
        • Add a fan to increase the air pressure
    • Building Fire Protection Systems
      • Building systems available to firefighters are:
        • Standpipes
        • Sprinkler and water supply systems
        • Fire pumps
        • Fire communications and command systems
        • Pressurized stairwells
    • Standpipes
      • Most building codes require them
      • Look at them as fire water mains built into the building with an outlet
      • Pressure at each floor will vary and in some cases can be too high
        • Pressure reducer will need to be installed
    • Figure 7-10 Fire department connection and post indicator valve. Notice the target indicating that the valve is open and the attached alarm system to notify when the valve is closed.
    • Sprinklers and Water Supply Systems
      • Most new high-rises are equipped
      • Can quickly control and extinguish most fires with water from two or less heads
      • In taller high-rises, building is divided into zones with a water supply tank installed in each zone
    • Fire Pumps
      • Required in all high-rise buildings
      • Designed to increase pressure in the sprinkler and/or standpipe system
      • Can be found singly or in pairs
      • Essential for inlet and discharge gauges to be checked
      • Critical that bypass valve is left closed after pump testing
    • Fire Communication Systems
      • Steel columns and beams enclosed with concrete absorb energy from fire department radio communications systems
        • Makes communication ineffective
      • Newer buildings have communication systems installed
        • Hard wiring allows intra-building communication using series of high reliability speakers and telephone devices located throughout building
    • Search and Rescue
      • Establish systematic search method to ensure all areas are checked for remaining occupants
      • Set up accountability system for those found and those missing
      • Watch for convergence cluster behavior
        • People gather in groups in one location to feel safe
    • Relocation of Occupants
      • Total evacuation is usually neither practical or feasible
      • Dependant upon:
        • Number of people needing to be moved
        • How they can be moved
        • If a safe refuge area is available within the structure
    • Salvage
      • Typically have valuable contents like computers, office equipment, business records, and personal items
      • Need for property protection is generally downward as water flows downward
      • To help salvage efforts, should channel the flow of water down the stairs or through drains
    • Overhaul
      • Labor intensive and precedent plan is needed
        • Direct initial overhaul efforts
        • Direct fire fighting forces to hidden shafts
        • Direct forces to false ceilings to be pulled down or opened
      • Crews should be assigned to every floor above the fire for smoke and extension and below to confirm extinguishment
    • Summary
      • High-rise fires becoming increasing problem
      • Issues include communication, height, and ventilation problems
      • Need to be able to work systems within a high-rise effectively
      • Evacuation, salvage, and overhaul issues need to be addressed appropriately