According to this Argus article, it would appear the Homebuilders Association knows more about fire safe materials then actual fire fighters. And why wouldn’t the council listen to them? Our fire department was practically dead silent about amending the provision.
Why didn’t Fire Chief Sideras come and speak about the importance of this issue? A Brandon firefighter died because of this exact problem. I can’t even fathom a fire department being absent from a discussion as important as this.
Â â€œRon Bell said last month the added layer of drywall would add between five and 10 minutes of structural life to floor trusses in the event of a fire.â€
A 1/2â€ layer of ordinary sheetrock can add up to 30 minutes of additional protection to a floor truss delaying structural collapse. Ron isn’t a fire expert but a fire fighter like the chief or the fire marshal (Dean Lanier) could have easily provided that information.
Either one of them could also have reminded the council that many cities do not opt out sections of the International Fire Code when it is updated, they adopt it as is. (I.E., they don’t let the Homebuilder’s Associations run the show with scare tactics like â€œpeople won’t be able to afford houses anymore or it will add $3,000 on to the cost of a house (Notice they didn’tÂ mention the square footage of that house).
â€œPutting that cap up, there is still going to be areas that will be exposed to those trusses and the airflow will go up in there,â€ said Council Chairman Kenny Anderson Jr. â€œI just don’t feel there’s enough data to show â€¦ that this will be effective.â€
Airflow isn’t the problem, it’s when the flame gets to the metal gusset plate on the floor truss itself. Example: Take a hot pan on the stove on high heat. Put your hand above the pan 2â€ away. You can feel the heat, but you aren’t being burned. That’s airflow. Put your hand on the pan. You’re being burned, eventually to the third degree. (bet you wish you had that piece of drywall about now) See the difference?
Drywall will delay that for up to 30 minutes.
The fire department, Sideras, and the unionÂ have the data to show floor trusses are extremely dangerous under direct flame contact â€“ that is why the fire code was changed to cover the trusses. They will fail within 5-10 minutes of direct flame contact. In some cases that’s before the fire department is even on scene. Changes to the fire code aren’t made lightly, they’re just as political and fought against at the national and international levels.
So didÂ Sideras put his career ahead of the life safety of the 200+ firefighters under his â€œprotectionâ€?
â€œCiting cost concerns and a lack of effectiveness, councilors rejected the proposal Tuesday.â€
They made the only decision they could come to considering they only had half of the facts â€“ the ones provided by the homebuilder’s association and the incorrect ones provided by the building services director. Where was Sideras and what are we paying this fire chief for? But it also proves that our city council does very little research of their own relying solely on the shills that run the different departments.
(Note: A former firefighter/inspector contributed to this post)