Firefighters assigned to the roof play a critical role in numerous fire ground tasks. Vertical ventilation, building information, and checking for fire extension to the cockloft or attic space are just a few of these tasks. Vertical ventilation and checking for extension can often be done together by taking a skylight and opening the skylight returns. Click here to see our previous video on that topic. When the roof is pitched or there is a void space along the parapet fire can easily extend through these spaces.
Many times the roof is pitched downwards from the front of the building to the rear in order to allow drainage at the back of the building. If there is a fire in the rear of the building and the roof is pitched downward from front to rear an inspection hole should be made towards the front of the building. Throughout the operation monitor this inspection hole for heat, smoke, and fire. If fire extension is found or expected, enlarge the opening and radio the findings to your company officer or incident commander. This further illustrates the importance of checking for fire in the cockloft immediately inside the entrance of a commercial building if no one is assigned to the roof.
Roof void spaces are a common path of fire travel. Firefighters assigned to the roof should place inspection cuts in void areas if there is any suspicion of fire in the cockloft or voids. Triangular void spaces along the parapet are very common in residential and commercial buildings. Usually these void spaces conceal structural members used to support the parapet. If fire is found in this area be sure that no one is on the sidewalk below the parapet. Here are a few pictures of this construction feature courtesy of Keith Morse from the Woodland Twp. NJ Fire Dept.