Pressboard “I” Beam’s

This fire occurred in a vacant 3 story attached multiple dwelling.  There were three separate apartments in the building, one per floor.  All three floors were occupied by squatters.  First arriving companies found heavy fire on the first floor in the front room of a three story newly constructed Multiple Dwelling.  

Apparently the owners walked away from the units, leaving nothing behind.  Squatters broke in and brought mattresses and some comforts of home.  Companies stated that, in the fire apartment, there was no other furniture in the apartment other than 1 mattress and 1 couch.

Note the heavy damage from the small to moderate fire load in this apartment.  Note also the firespread into and throughout the second floor supports (thru the sheet-rock ceiling in areas where electrical lighting fixtures and ceiling fans were).  In many areas the pressboard web in the support has burned completely through.  Thankfully, there were no occupants or heavy furniture on any floor as the building was vacant as stated above.

A heavier fire load on the first floor, or just regular amounts of household furniture on the second floor could have let to a catastrophic collapse as units were operating.  Be aware!   If these are going into new construction in your area, note it,  and let responding members have this information as a part of “Critical Dispatch Information”.




3 Responses

  1. Excellent post Doug. I know this has been a factor in multiple firefighter fatalities recently.

    It also illustrates of determining the status of fire in the basement ASAP!!! At every structure fire, the IC should assign a member or company to check the basement immediately.

  2. Your right Nick, basement fires can be extremely dangerous with the pressboard “I”, especially since most basements do not have the fire protection of ANY Sheet-rock at all!!!!

  3. Went to a basement fire in a light weight dwelling under construction, had a flash fire in the basement containing pressboard I Beams. The webs of 5 of the I Beams were completely burnt out, very minimal fire upon arrival but the top and bottom cords of the I Beams were almost touching! The finished and sub-flooring had dropped about 6 to 8 inches on the first floor.

    Conrtuction is going to get even worse, wood trusses are starting to be “hot glued” together instead of using gussett plates. Stay safe!

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