On The Job – Texas: Apartment Cockloft Fire Taxes Houston Firefighters as 30 Units Are Destroyed in Fast-Spreading Inferno

Tom McDonald reports on a fire in a non-sprinklered building that gave more than 100 Houston firefighters one of their toughest assignments in many months.


HOUSTON FIRE DEPTARTMENT Chief: Phil Boriskie Personnel: 3,877 career firefighters Apparatus: 87 engines, 37 ladders (including three towers), one heavy rescue, two tactical rescues, three air cascade units, plus fully integrated EMS operations, a Hazardous Materials Response Team and ARFF...


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Two other key differences between this newest generation of apartments and the older garden ones now falling victim to fires at an alarming rate are geography and fire safety. The newer apartments are heavily concentrated in the city's inner core, only a short bus ride from the gleaming high-rise office towers of downtown.

Many of Houston's oldest residential neighborhoods surrounding downtown have been given a giant makeover in less than a decade by this new style of apartment building. Fortunately, with this new style of structure comes added safety. Sprinklers, standpipes and divided attic spaces are now mandatory in these new complexes; and, so far, the worst fire they have experienced involved one that was still under construction.


TOM MCDONALD is a 24-year member of the Houston Fire Department and captain of Engine Company 37 on the city's southwest side.