Burning buildings

dwash59

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Or just standard building materials that we hope is protected (somehow) after being built?
The science of wallboard is well established and undisputed. As linked by someone in the Waltham thread, adding wallboard changes the time to collapse for the lumber currently being used from 6 minutes to 27 minutes[1].

[1] http://www.ul.com/global/documents/corporate/aboutul/publications/newsletters/fire/fsa_issue_3_2009.pdf

That isn't magic, that's science. There's a discussion to be had about whether more fire protection should be present during construction and whether buildings should have better fire protection in general, but using words like "hope" and "somehow" are not useful when we have facts.

That said, I've become a believer in the techniques used in the early 20th century for fireproofing, largely due to the fires in Allston.

12 Harvard Terrace partially collapsed while its neighbors, 8 and 16 Harvard Terrace, only sustained water and smoke damage https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/09/03/two-alarm-fire-breaks-out-allston-deck/NnVqeaJ5qAdlGaBXzT95QL/story.html

79 Brighton ave was completely gutted while its neighbors seemingly sustained no damage at all http://www.universalhub.com/2015/four-alarm-fire-hits-empty-apartment-building

Those were both buildings with fire walls, physically connected to neighboring buildings.

In contrast, fire can jump like crazy between old wooden buildings. A fire in a triple decker on Mansfield jumped to several surrounding buildings http://www.universalhub.com/2013/five-alarm-fire-spreads-one-allston-house-three-ot

I think there's a lot to be copied from those buildings with features that contain fires. Just don't pretend that current construction is relying on "hope" and "somehow" when it is instead based on studies.
 

WormtownNative

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How what's the deal on multistory wood-framed apartment buildings, such as the Cooper St ones in Waltham that seem quite the tinder boxes while under construction:



Once occupied, what enables these towers to (claim to) be significantly safer? Wallboard? Hair-trigger sprinklers? The simple act of installing doors and windows to cut down on draft?

The 1920s were big on switching to "fireproof construction" (steel, terracotta vaulting, concrete floors) for stuff that we've switched back to wood.

Is the wood in these under-construction blazes fireproofed at all? Or just standard building materials that we hope is protected (somehow) after being built?
Depends.

In addition to the UL article linked in dwash's post, here's the state's Fire Resistance Requirements

If you want ridiculousness in fireproofing, Edward Croker, Chief of the FDNY, built his retirement home entirely out of concrete. To prove its safety, he held a party at his house, and lit a closed off room on fire.

In 1914, Croker built a completely fireproof house in Long Beach which still stands today at 116 Lindell Blvd corner of West Penn Street. This was said to be the 1st of it's kind. His house warming party was covered by the New York Times. According to the Times' story, Croker brought all of his guests to the 2nd floor of his home, where the walls, floors and rafters were made of cement, the doors, trimmings and furniture of metal and interestingly enough, the carpets and furniture coverings of asbestos. He poured a few gallons of gasoline into the room, lit a match then shut the room's metal door and dined with his guests in the next room. The fire was confined to the room and beyond a reported crack in the metal wire of the room's window, the room remained undamaged.
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Do we need that level of ridiculousness? No, that would be prohibitively expensive. But maybe we should start questioning if the engineered stuff is all that better over true dimensional lumber.
 

WormtownNative

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The science of wallboard is well established and undisputed. As linked by someone in the Waltham thread, adding wallboard changes the time to collapse for the lumber currently being used from 6 minutes to 27 minutes[1].

[1] http://www.ul.com/global/documents/corporate/aboutul/publications/newsletters/fire/fsa_issue_3_2009.pdf

That isn't magic, that's science. There's a discussion to be had about whether more fire protection should be present during construction and whether buildings should have better fire protection in general, but using words like "hope" and "somehow" are not useful when we have facts.

That said, I've become a believer in the techniques used in the early 20th century for fireproofing, largely due to the fires in Allston.

12 Harvard Terrace partially collapsed while its neighbors, 8 and 16 Harvard Terrace, only sustained water and smoke damage https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/09/03/two-alarm-fire-breaks-out-allston-deck/NnVqeaJ5qAdlGaBXzT95QL/story.html

79 Brighton ave was completely gutted while its neighbors seemingly sustained no damage at all http://www.universalhub.com/2015/four-alarm-fire-hits-empty-apartment-building

Those were both buildings with fire walls, physically connected to neighboring buildings.

In contrast, fire can jump like crazy between old wooden buildings. A fire in a triple decker on Mansfield jumped to several surrounding buildings http://www.universalhub.com/2013/five-alarm-fire-spreads-one-allston-house-three-ot

I think there's a lot to be copied from those buildings with features that contain fires. Just don't pretend that current construction is relying on "hope" and "somehow" when it is instead based on studies.
In regards to Mansfield Street linked in your post, there is a stark difference between buildings with brick firewalls between them and wood structures with short distances between them. It's apples and tomatoes.

With individual three deckers, the issue is not the wood itself, but the type of construction. Three deckers used balloon frame - that is, the same 2x4 in the wall touches both the roof joints AND the basement with no fire stops in-between. A fire that makes it into that space will quickly extend into the attic and the basement. Modern building code dictates platform construction, with fire stops on each floor, prohibiting that from occurring.

Also, in this image:



You can see the siding heavily charred and still burning in an area - this stuff is what firefighters call gasoline siding - aka Asphalt Felt siding. That also adds to the fire load, whereas vinyl siding simply melts due to heat, as seen here:



Generally speaking (not including the variable that is the occupants), the better the building is kept up, the smaller the risk of fire.
 

JohnAKeith

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Alarms sound in the early morning. Sirens wail on Symphony Road. It’s happening again. The neighborhood is burning nightly and there’s nothing you can do but wait in fear. That is exactly what happened during the 1970s as Boston residents were under siege. Real estate businessmen were making money by burning apartment buildings to the ground, leaving the poor, elderly, and minority tenants homeless and several dead. The tenants’ cries for arson investigations were dismissed. Arson was hard to prosecute and arson for profit was business *as *usual across the nation. A brave group of community activists refused to be silent victims. Their hard work revealed a shocking pattern in the fires and it was enough to convince the state to prosecute and eventually convict 32 men in a conspiracy bigger than anyone suspected. The story will soon be available for public viewing in the new documentary Burning Greed ...

http://archive.boston.com/blogs/yourtown/boston/dirty-old-boston/2013/08/burning_greed.html
 

stellarfun

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The official inquiry into Grenfell has begun.

.....[expert witness[Prof Lane was equally damning about the cladding that was fitted to Grenfell as part of the refurbishment, which she said was “non-compliant with the functional requirement of the building regulations”.

“I have found no evidence yet that any member of the design team or the construction ascertained the fire performance of the rainscreen cladding system materials, nor understood how the assembly performed in fire,” she said. “I have found no evidence that building control were either informed or understood how the assembly would perform in a fire.”

“Further, I have found no evidence that the [tenant management organisation] risk assessment recorded the fire performance of the rainscreen cladding system, nor have I found evidence that the LFB [London Fire Brigade] risk assessment recorded the fire performance of the rainscreen cladding.”
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jun/04/expert-lists-litany-of-serious-safety-breaches-at-grenfell-tower
 

stick n move

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Sept 11th conspiracy about how jet fuel doesn't melt steel beams in 3...2...1...
 

bigpicture7

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Fascinating: The Treadmark in Dorchester (among other developments) was featured in a New York Times piece about construction fires.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/30/business/fire-commercial-real-estate-rebuilding.html

The article ends by discussing how builders are very recently adopting a new process for applying fire-inhibiting coating to engineered wood framing during construction:
AvalonBay now uses a fire-inhibiting coating on its wood framing. Made by M-Fire Suppression, the coating is sprayed on as the framing goes up.
“It adds a half-million dollars on the average job, but it’s the key differentiator for us since that Maplewood fire,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

Mr. Keefe said Trinity had used the same coating technique during the Treadmark restoration.
The piece describes how these buildings are safe once all fire protection systems are installed, but that they are vulnerable during in-process construction...this flame retardant, sprayed on in real time, should help mitigate that. Interesting that it will add $Half-Mil to construction costs (of a medium sized 5-on-1), but that apparently the margin is there to cover that...
 

CSTH

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Interesting that it will add $Half-Mil to construction costs (of a medium sized 5-on-1), but that apparently the margin is there to cover that...
...and there are no doubt substantial savings on insurance premiums as well...
 

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