1. #1
    BSnyd.
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question Fires in McDonald's

    Looking for info from U.S./Cananda fire departments who have responded to working fires in McDonald's Resturant buildings. Only respond if this building was a stand-alone type. Please describe conditions on 1st unit's arrival, what contributed to fire spead, and I hate to ask, is the building still standing? In my research I have found that these buildings, once attacked by fire, do not resist rapid fire spread. Looking for info. Thanks in advance.

    Bill Snyder
    Bel Air, MD

  2. #2
    FFTrainer
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Does it have to be McDonald's or does Burger King count? Been in BK, and it was ugly!! Blowing out windows and through the roof in record time.

    I'm not completely sure the exact cause of these scenarios. As with everything else, I think we looking at a combination of things. The fire load with the greases and oils in the kitchen, the laminates found in all the counters, the tables, the plastics in all the chairs and trays, the stored items such as cases of "To Go" bags, cups, etc all combined with lightweight, "hurry up and build this thing" construction and an open floor plan are causing problems.

    Just one guys opinion. Curious to see others.

  3. #3
    robbie
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    a neighboring city had a fire at a mcdonalds a few years ago i think it was reported as in or near the kitchen it went to the roof and needless to say it's a vacant lot now

  4. #4
    Hell'sKItchen15
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Most, if not all, detached fast food structures, such as McDonalds, Wendy's and burger King, feature some type of lightweight trusses as a part of the roof system. They can be either wood or steel (bar joists). The wood type have been a major contributor to fire spread in some of the incidents that I have either seen or read about. The bar joist, although not combustable themselves, are still extremely dangerous in that they will begin to fail at around 1100 degrees; sooner if the roof is loaded with mechanical equipment. In two of the fires that I have been involved with in these types of structures (one McDonalds, the other Burger King), the fires were started by arsonists or vandels in the bathrooms, and quickly spread through the wall stud cavity to the open cockloft formed by the roof trusses.

    (by the way, according to the fire wire, Pennsgrove, NJ had a second alarm in a McDonalds just yesterday, I think)

  5. #5
    FFTrainer
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Check the AerialScope Website mentioned in another post. There is a picture of a scope dumping some serious gallons into a McDonald's

  6. #6
    Brtengr
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I have first hand experience in building Burger King, Hardee's, and McDonald's restraunts. I've done the HVAC work for about 15 of these restaruants and every one is made with pre-fab wood trusses. The trusses are all about 2'6" deep and slope towards the middle. The trusses of course have the nail plates holding them together, so pretty much, if the fire gets to the trusses, it is going to spread, and probably collapse. Not good. From the front dining area to the coolers in the back the space above the suspended ceiling is all open.

    Hit these fast and good luck.

    Lee

  7. #7
    Kyle Wickman
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hey fftrainer,
    Remember that fire at a BK in Union County? they had a LODD there. Very sad.

  8. #8
    Mr.Meaner
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    My experiences with fires in fast food structures have shown that there was always a very serious delay in reporting the fire. Employees failed to use the kitchen fire suppression systems and instead attempted to combat the fire with water, milk, and soda. The employees had received no training for any emergencies (evacuation, reporting fire, getting out and staying out). The design of structure contributed to the avenues of fire and smoke spread, and also created collapse concerns. First arriving units were also confronted with a mass exodus of customer vehicles.

  9. #9
    ffnbs
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Don't forget the basement in these structures. We had an arson started in the storage racks filled with styrofoam trays and the like. What a brutal job of trying to make entry down the rear stairway and the fact that these buildings have cement floors the ventilation process was very frustrating. One way in-one way out. Luckily this restaurant was only three blocks from the station and it started just before closing time so employees notified FD right away. Can't imagine what it would have been like if there was a delayed response.

  10. #10
    RJE
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I've personally seen it three times, but I still can't answer all your questions.

    Incident 1, I was WORKING at the McD's in question, after close, and an employee spilled shortening from a fryer, which hit heating element. We immediately pulled the pull station, left, and called FD from pay phone in the parking lot. 2 min. response, 5 min stop, and the store was only closed 1 day! (Good job KCMO-FD).

    Second, same store, auto alarm after hours. I wasn't working there anymore, but heard about it after. This one set off heat detectors, and was again stopped w/moderate roof damage. It was a common loft construction, and it did get up there and cook the roof pretty good, but because of auto-alarm it wasn't a total loss.

    Third, a BK 6 blocks from my current house. 10pm, they were still open, and when I heard the call on the pager, I looked out. I could see smoke from my back door, before I heard the sirens. Roof collapse, and a week later it was scraped. It's now reopened in a totally new building on the same lot. I can't say for sure, but that one certainly looks like a delayed alarm.

    I will say that I wasn't trained by McDs on what to do in the event of a kitchen fire. But, I was already a Jr, my dad was a Capt., so I think I did the right thing anyway (and I wasn't the only one!) Even if we hadn't, though, the auto-alarm seems to have done almost as well in the later fire (which started in accumulated grease in the vent hood, and only flared after everyone left).

    So, talk to the fire prevention guys, and have them do training w/store managers (employees turn over too fast to be much good), and lobby local gov't for mandatory auto-alarms (heat, not smoke).

  11. #11
    ffeng
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Please don't forget the two Houston LODDs a few years ago. McDonalds I believe - arson to cover up theft. FFs caught in collapse.

  12. #12
    pyroknight
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    McDonald's employees not trained in emergency response? Shocking! Shoot, half of 'em aren't trained in how to speak English, much less battle grease fires.

  13. #13
    nomad1085
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Originally posted by pyroknight:
    McDonald's employees not trained in emergency response? Shocking! Shoot, half of 'em aren't trained in how to speak English, much less battle grease fires.
    LOL. Good Point. We are privlidged enough to not have any fast food restaurants in our district. Just 2 small town Pizza Joints and Chineese place.

    Matt

  14. #14
    Captain Gonzo
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    Fast food restaurants are what you would call a "disposable buildings". Lightweight truss construction usually built on a slab, parapet walls hiding the hvac units and fryolator/grill ventilation on the roof, with a local fire alarm system. If there is no life hazard...surround and drown. It's not worth risking the lives of firefighters to save a disposable building.

    ------------------
    Firefighters: rising under adverse conditions to accept the challenge!
    Captain Gonzo

  15. #15
    fyrefyghter10
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Actually there was a McDonalds fire over the river from me in New Jersey and the OIC didnt want them to make entry into it because there was alot of grease that just kept making the fire hotter and hotter so they just surrounded and drwoned it.

  16. #16
    wrongWAY
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    I love the "smells-n-bells" we get at Micky D's. Don't tell anybody but when nobody's looking I lean back and stick my big mouth under the ice cream machine and pull that lever ..... mmmmmmmm!

  17. #17
    FFTrainer
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Unhappy

    As previously mentioned, let's remember this one.....
    http://www.firehouse.com/news/2001/2/8_tx.html

  18. #18
    Firefighter194
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    If a course of 6 months back in 1989, there were 3 McDonalds that went up in flames in the Pittsburgh area. All of the fires started in the same area, above the menu board, electrical in nature. In most of the McDonalds in the area, they store alot of materials and supplies in the ceilings (crawl spaces), therefore there was a tremendous amount of fireload in the ceiling.
    Also, there was a time delay anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes before the fire department was alerted, so naturally by the time the first arriving units pulled up to the scene, the fire was running the ceiling and through the HVAC. At our fire, we made an interior attack with a 2-1/2 for about 15 minutes, but the crews had to pull out due to deteriorating conditions and strucutral collapse.

  19. #19
    aktormedic
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    back in 1999, MCD fire. Fire was in the walls and extened into the cockloft due to electrical short in bathroom socket. The fire was very hot, and afterwards, when the investigators were going over the area, they found that the gusset plates were about 1-2 minutes from failing. A sobering moment.

  20. #20
    Cmalla1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    With all the talk about McDonalds, I guess I should comment on my recent encounter in South Jersey. This is the one mentioned by several other posts in this forum.

    On the morning of Feb 4, 2001 both my station and our sister station were alerted for a building fire at McDonalds. First arriving officer advised of a working fire and requested the second alarm. First in engine (3 blocks from the incident) attempted an interior attack (heavy thick smoke pouring out the doors) and was shortly backed up by the second in engine. Even after aggressive interior attack and ventilation, in less than 5 minutes conditions deteriorated quickly, and the evacuation was sounded and defensive ops took place. Within five minutes of the evacuation, fire was already blowing through the roof and interior was fully involved. About five minutes after that, roof collapse into the structure (due to fire/heat damage and huge HVAC unit). It became a giant rubbish fire (future parking lot) after that. A third alarm was struck to assist with H2O problems for the master streams.

    Points we learned...we had several FF pass McDonalds within 5-10 minutes of dispatch and saw nothing! Fire was well advanced between the roof and drop ceiling prior to FD arrival. It was incredibly FAST MOVING with no chance of getting it with an interior attack due to the rapid deterioration inside the structure.

    Unofficial story which is still under investigation...grease had little to do with its spread or its cause. It was electrical somewhere in the rear of the structure above the drop ceiling. About 30-40 minutes prior to 911 call, employee thought they smelled smoke but it was dismissed and thought to be the cooking grills/fryers. Then someone decided to look above a ceiling tile and surprise...fire above. From there it QUICKLY ran the entire drop ceiling from back to front.

    All involved in the incident were very lucky on scene and no one was injured and/or killed. Looking back it only makes one think about what happened in Houston FD and the LODD associated with the McDonalds there.

  21. #21
    Cmalla1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    With all the talk about McDonalds, I guess I should comment on my recent encounter in South Jersey. This is the one mentioned by several other posts in this forum.

    On the morning of Feb 4, 2001 both my station and our sister station were alerted for a building fire at a typical stand alone McDonalds. First arriving officer advised of a working fire and requested the second alarm. First in engine (3 blocks from the incident) attempted an interior attack (heavy thick smoke pouring out the doors) and was shortly backed up by the second in engine. Truck crew performed horizontal ventilation and started to perform vertical ventilation. Even after aggressive interior attack and ventilation, in less than 5 minutes conditions deteriorated quickly, and the evacuation was sounded and defensive ops took place. Within five minutes of the evacuation, fire was already blowing through the roof and interior was fully involved. About five minutes after that, roof collapse into the structure (due to fire/heat damage and huge HVAC unit). It became a giant rubbish fire (future parking lot) after that. A third alarm was struck to assist with H2O problems for the master streams.

    Points we learned...we had several FF pass McDonalds within 5-10 minutes of dispatch and saw nothing! Fire was riding between the roof and drop ceiling for a while prior to FD arrival. It was incredibly FAST MOVING with no chance of getting it with an interior attack due to the rapid deterioration inside the structure. Upon quick realization of this, we promptly evacuated and went defensive.

    Unofficial story which is still under investigation...grease had little to do with its spread or its cause. It was electrical somewhere in the rear of the structure above the drop ceiling. About 30-40 minutes prior to 911 call, employee thought they smelled smoke but it was dismissed and thought to be the cooking grills/fryers. Then someone decided to look above a ceiling tile and surprise...fire above. From there it QUICKLY ran the entire drop ceiling from back to front.

    All involved in the incident were very lucky on scene and no one was injured and/or killed. Looking back it only makes one think about what happened in Houston FD and the LODD associated with the McDonalds there.

    We are going to submit digital photos to this site and have them posted in about a week from now on our site. Feel free to check them out or contact us if you have any further questions about the incident.

    Rescue Captain
    Pennsville Fire & Rescue Co.1
    pennsvillefd.org

    [This message has been edited by Cmalla1 (edited 02-15-2001).]

  22. #22
    FFTrainer
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    On the subject of the NJ McDonald's fire. Read the article associated with the photos there are some interesting points to notice regarding the rapid degradation of the structure's condition.
    http://www.firehouse.com/hotshots/ph...feb/22_nj.html

  23. #23
    Richard
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    One thing to remember about most McD's (and for that matter most fast food restaurants) The back door is usually barricaded like Fort Knox (even when employees are present) It wouldn't be a good idea to put firefighters on an interior attack without providing them a second way out. Force that door!

    In most McD's there is usually a storage room to the back right of the main hall leading to the rear door. It would easy for a firefighter to get disoriented and trapped in this room which usually has a chain link security cage inside it (someone might steal the Dixie cups, you know)

    I believe I heard that one of the Houston LODDs was found next to the barricaded rear door and the other was in the storage room. When the kitchen roof collapsed, it cut off their hose line and left them trapped in the rear of the building.

    I suggest everyone get out and pre-plan all the restaurants in their district. If everybody is out, an exterior attack is indicated and as Al Bruanacini would say "Another satisfied customer! Remove the pre-plan from the file!"


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