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Date: July 20, 2015 Author: Brandon Winters

Most firefighters spend a fair amount of time studying building construction in the classroom before they embark on their first mission to extinguish a building fire. However, knowing how to evaluate building construction, and actually evaluating it as a part of a fire search and rescue operation, are two different things. Firefighters must be able to quickly assess the following construction characteristics of a building, among several others.

Floor Construction

Slow, long-burning fires and fires that burn extremely hot for a short period of time are known to weaken floors in buildings and cause them to collapse. However, the threat of a collapsing floor ultimately depends on how the floor is constructed. For example, a concrete floor that is filled with rebar would typically be less likely to collapse than a tile floor that wooden trusses support. Brannigan’s Building Construction for the Fire Service covers the subject of floor construction in-depth.       

Wall Construction

Like the floors beneath your feet, walls in burning buildings can collapse unexpectedly. The material from which the walls are constructed have a major impact on whether they will fall or stay in place. However, understanding wall construction is good for more than keeping firefighters and evacuees safe. It is also essential for assessing how easily a wall could be demolished to assist with the rescue effort. Brannigan’s Building Construction for the Fire Service covers the topic of wall construction.       

Rooftop Access

If a building offers easy access to the rooftop, it isn’t uncommon for occupants who are located on upper floors to go there and await rescue. Unless firefighters check an easily accessible rooftop, they risk overlooking evacuees and contributing to fatalities. By the same token, firefighters may direct evacuees to the roof for aerial rescue if normal evacuation is impossible. Read Brannigan’s Building Construction for more on the subject of roof construction.       

Exit Stairwells

Also known as “emergency egress paths”, exit stairwells are the routes that building occupants travel to exit a structure in the event of a fire or other catastrophe. For firefighters, one of the main goals of firefighting missions is to move evacuees through exit stairwells as quickly as possible -- a task that requires knowing the number of exit stairwells and their exact locations.  

Start Studying Today

Understanding building construction is an essential aspect of conducting successful fireground operations. If you need to gain a better understanding of building construction for fire fighting , Brannigan’s Building Construction for the Fire Service contains the information you need. We also recommend purchasing the study software based on the latest edition of this book, so you can test your knowledge. Visit us online and place your order today.
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