If 60% of Structure-Related Firefighter Deaths Occur in Conventionally-Framed Buildings, Protect Everything Equally

Originally published by the following source: USFAApril 16, 2014

The following article was produced and published by the source linked to above, who is solely responsible for its content. SBC Magazine is publishing this story to raise awareness of information publicly available online and does not verify the accuracy of the author’s claims. As a consequence, SBC cannot vouch for the validity of any facts, claims or opinions made in the article.

Editor’s Note: SBC Industry News has recently shared a series of firefighter-related news items that has made us reflect on the IRC code change proposal effectively banning the use of trusses and I-joists from residential markets that have basements. The news items contained in this SBC Industry News-Special Edition! provide a retrospective on the facts surrounding the need for a ½” gypsum wallboard membrane to be applied to everything but 2x10 floor joists that became part of the 2012 model code. It is clear this code change has altered the free market to favor 2x10s, where all other structural floor member alternatives are now more expensive. This is important news from a public policy point of view so we have included hyperlinks to other recent, related news items, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

Observations

In viewing the complete list of US firefighter fatalities from 1980-2012, including a break out of deaths involving structural products,  if five percent of firefighter fatalities were from "in structures," and 60 percent of those deaths occurred in conventionally-framed buildings, shouldn't 2x10s be protected?

To view the full US Fire Administration's (USFA) Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2012 report, click on the first pdf link below. To view the complete list of US firefighter fatalities from 1980-2012, including a break out of deaths involving structural products, click on the second pdf link below.

Background

For 36 years, USFA has tracked the number of firefighter fatalities and conducted an annual analy­sis. Through the collection of information on the causes of firefighter deaths, USFA is able to focus on specific problems and direct efforts toward finding solutions to reduce the number of fire­fighter fatalities in the future. This information is also used to measure the effectiveness of current programs directed toward firefighter health and safety.

Several programs have been funded by USFA in response to this annual report. For example, USFA has sponsored significant work in the areas of general emergency vehicle operations safety, fire department tanker/tender operations safety, firefighter incident scene rehabilitation, and roadside incident safety. The data developed for this report are also widely used in other firefighter fatality prevention efforts.

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) was responsible for compilation of a large portion of the data used in this report and the incident narrative summaries found in Appendix A. Their cooperation and work toward reducing firefighter deaths is gratefully acknowledged.

The ultimate objective of this effort is to reduce the number of firefighter deaths through an in­creased awareness and understanding of their causes and how they can be prevented. Firefighting, rescue and other types of emergency operations are essential activities in an inherently dangerous profession, and unfortunate tragedies do occur. These are the risks all firefighters accept every time they respond to an emergency incident. However, the risks can be greatly reduced through efforts to improve training, emergency scene operations, and firefighter health and safety.

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