Building Collapse Indicators, Continued

Present State & History Of The Building As fire attacks a building, failure will occur. It can start with localized interior collapse. As fire stops break down, the fire area will enlarge and structural members can become exposed. The destruction of...


To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login

Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required

The impact load can cause failure of a portion of a building, or total building collapse such as seen in a pancake collapse of multiple floors of a building.

Firefighters must take care in how they apply force to a fire building. It is usually not apparent how susceptible the building is to collapse since many components that may be affected by a fire cannot be viewed by the firefighters.

Summary

This list of collapse indicators is by no means complete. Certain situations are dangerous in themselves. If you are the incident commander and the above signs are noticed you should take immediate action. The proper action will depend on whether any civilian life is in jeopardy. If all civilians are safe, then firefighter safety is your number-one consideration.

Waiting for a variety of warnings and not acting immediately could result in your final warning or indicator being a collapsing building.


James P. Smith, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a deputy chief of the Philadelphia Fire Department and an adjunct instructor at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, MD. The first part of this report was published in April 1997.