Know Your Area #2010-001 – Beacon, New York

Photo #1: Exterior of a Type IV/Heavy Timber mill. What size and type of construction components would you expect to find in this type of building?

In our blog, we will have several sub-blogs.  The “Know Your Area” blog is one of those sub-blogs.  Here we will provide photos and a description of buildings that we have found in our travels.  While these buildings are PROBABLY NOT in your response area, perhaps a business owner, contractor or civilian is conducting the same renovations or alterations as we see in this blog.  We encourage you to jump in with your thoughts.  If you have photos of your own, that you would like to contribute, email us.  We will be happy to make you an author so you may contribute your photos as well.

We found these buildings, and worked in them at our Beyond the Academy: RIT/FAST Scenarios course that we held in Beacon, NY on Saturday November 6th.  In Photo #1 we see the exterior of a mill-type (Class IV, Heavy Timber), shows the exterior of the building. We would expect to find exterior walls made up of several courses of brickwork and the framing substantial beams.  We would expect to find a very heavy fire load, but we would not fear an early collapse (at least initially).  Roof teams working on these buildings should have a descent amount of time to conduct operations before they will either be driven from the roof by fire conditions or collapse becomes a concern.

Photo #2: Starting to see signs that the building may have been altered. Replacement windows have been installed that are not typical of "factory" or "warehouse" buildings

Photo #3: Another view of the replacement windows

These buildings are in the process of being converted from an old mill to what appears to be commercial occupancies with condominium units above.  There is an attempt nationwide to revitalize these dilapidated buildings to remove their “eyesore appearance” from the community.  In many cases, tax revenue from this type of revitalization can save a community.  These renovations will only become more popular as other cities succeed in revitalizing their old “industrial corridors”, and other cities follow suit.

As we move inside the buildings, and to the top floor, we can see that alterations and renovations that CRITICALLY COMPROMISE the building’s structural components exist.  See the photos and descriptions below:

Contractors/building owners have MIXED lightweight tongue $ groove I-beams (TGI) with heavy timber construction.

It gets worse: It is not a "localized issue". Lightweight TGIs support THE ENTIRE ROOF of this 300x600 mill.

Two soil stacks were observed cut off at the roof level. It is uncertain as to whether these pipes will be completely removed, or penetrate the top floor ceiling to the roof support system which will provide a route for fire spread.

It is EVERY firefighter and officer’s job to be on the lookout for such building alterations and renovations.  There is always a reason why a certain building component or building feature catches your eye.  Investigate it further, and make sure that ALL MEMBERS are aware of situations which can cause harm to us.  In this day in age of computers, emails and digital cameras and cell-phone photos, there is ABSOLUTELY no reason why every member of your department shouldn’t know about such an issue.  The photos outlined above, may not be illegal in Beacon, NY; but they can certainly cause injury or death to the members that respond.

If you have any photos that you would like to contribute, please email us.

Stay Safe!

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We specialize in the basic fundamentals of firefighting. While we believe that hazardous materials, terrorism, emergency medical and the various rescue disciplines are essential parts of the Fire Service, we also think that the basic fundamentals of firefighting have been overlooked in recent years. We are here to help turn that trend in the other direction.

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