1. #1
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    Default Rescue from attics converted into bedrooms

    I'm the chief of a small urban community in northwest New Jersey. 48% of our dwelling units are owned by absentee landlords. Many of our once beautiful victorian homes, have been converted into mutli-family dwellings, most have been done over the last 30 years. The problem is that most of these have had no building permits taken out, and many of these now have attic spaces which are now bedrooms. Most of these have small windows, and very few have the air conditioners that give away their location.
    On Sunday July 13th we ran another building fire incident where people were sleeping on four floors. (Basement, 1st, 2nd, and attic) The fire resulted from a 6 year old juvenile firesetter on the first floor. Fortunately all of the nine occupants were out upon our arrival. The attic space being used as a nursery. The attic windows were small, and the steps to the attic were very narrow with little head room. Rescue would have been extremely difficult at best in this balloon construction dwelling. Any suggestions on victim removal in these conditions would be welcomed.

  2. #2
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    Put the Stick up to the window and have an outside team...perhaps the Chauffeur and another truckie VES those areas if conditons allow. One member enter and the other stay at the window on the ladder as a point of orientation. Then to remove a civilian pass the victim out to the Chauffeur on the ladder or bucket. It sounds like dragging a victim through the maze of tiny stairwells might not be the quickest or prefered method in this situation. I've seen some victorians where the staircase to the attic is located in a closet! There isn't any easy solution it would seem.

    Best of Luck Brother.
    FTM-PTB

  3. #3
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    Use a chainsaw to make the windows bigger, or just cut a big hole in the gable, or cut a big hole down through the roof and ceiling.

  4. #4
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    If the problem is that rampant in your district, I would prepare for the worst and hope for the best. If manpower is an issue then I would strike a second alarm for manpower just to search. I have many of these type dwellings in my city and while they aren't divided, they are still very hard to perform searches in so the problem becomes multiplied depending on the number of units that they have been divided into. Also construction and fire location are factors as well. If the fire is in the basement I would send a team to the attic IMMEDIATELY knowing the possibility of these conditions. Every fire is different but would remain concious of these possibilities.
    "I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we know the work which a fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

    Edward F. Croker
    Chief 1899-1911
    Fire Dept. City of New York

    HOOK N' CAN of the I.A.C.O.J.

  5. #5
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    What is your towns fire code enforcment department (if it exists) stance on these dwellings? If these dwellings are multiple family (More than 2) non-owner occupied they are inspectable unfer the NJ uniform fire code and classified as an R-2 dwelling. They also fall under the requirments of the uniform construction code. These requirments specifically provide egress and alarm requirments which are the most important things we usually consider in the fire service. Perhaps a more stringent approach to inspections would do nothing less than identify some of the problem buildings and hopefully lead to updates/corrections. Ultimately there will always be a problem of some degree that you are left to deal with, and it is your mission to find ways to deal with it. Enlarging openings is an option, however with time as a critical factor and already being behind the clock in many cases, it might be hard to find an easy way to get in other than using the existing openings. When searching for victims, its sometimes just very risky at best...thats why we are there. Alot of firefighters aren't willing to put themselves on the line and the people we are searching for demand that from us, no exceptions. Your search teams should be working while agressive engine companies get the fire in check so they arent subjected to the structure weakening under them especially in ballon frame construction.

  6. #6
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    KAPTKRNCH has the right idea. Have your truck company throw a ladder with the tip positioned at or just below what you would believe to be floor level under the window. Knock out the widow and clean the frame. Then take a chainsaw, make 2 vertical cuts down from the edges of the widow frame, then make a horizontal cut to connect them. Knock the piece in out of the way, or if it's clear drop it to the ground. This can be done at the same time a crew is attempting to make entry through the interior. You will be surprised how fast this can be completed. Especially when you take in account how hard it can be to find the right interior stairway!
    Even if the attic apartment is accessed via exterior stairs, it's still a good, no, great idea to have a secondary egress point.
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
    "I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
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    during Virginia's Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788
    Elevator Rescue Information

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