NIOSH Data Affirms AWC/NAHB Approach to Firefighter Safety not Fact Based

Originally published by the following source: SBCAApril 21, 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.

The following public comment was offered by SBCA as a counter-proposal to the original AWC RB31-09/10 proposal. The SBCA proposal included a substantive literature search of firefighter deaths where conventional framing was involved, in some manner, in the death. The goal of this literature search was to provide a holistic view of the issue with an emphasis on what happens to floors in a fire and is what happens materially different between 2x10 lightweight floor systems and floor systems that use engineered products like I-joists and floor trusses.

As previously stated an objective assessment of ASTM E119 testing, which is accurately performed in accordance with all provisions of the ASTM standard, (i.e. not modified to just use the E119 time-temperature curve as most recent UL testing has done), shows that floor truss floors perform very similarly to 2x10 joists under the ASTM requirement of full design load (structural members under equivalent stress for pure comparative purposes).

I-joists, by definition given that they are more optimally engineered and have less mass, will perform less long in a fire when compared to 2x10s.

The facts speak for themselves and are given in the listing of NIOSH reports at the end of our SBCA’s code change proposal which we felt was the most rational approach to protecting firefighter safety and also the most accurate and fair approach given what the facts said about floor system performance in the real world.

RB31-09/10

R302.7, Chapter 44

Individual Consideration Agenda

This item is on the agenda for individual consideration because a public comment was submitted.

Public Comment:

Name: Larry Wainright, Qualtim, Representing the Structural Building Components Association

Delete and Replace the proposal as follows:
R302.7 Fire protection of floors. Floor assemblies, not required elsewhere in this code to be fire resistance rated, shall be provided with a ½ inch (12.7 mm) gypsum wallboard membrane, 5/8 inch (15.9 mm) wood structural panel membrane, or  equivalent on the underside of light frame construction.

Exceptions:
1. Floor assemblies located directly over a space protected by an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with Section P2904, NFPA 13D, NFPA 13R or NFPA 13.
2. Floor assemblies located directly over a crawl space not intended for storage or fuel-fired appliances.
3. Portions of floor assemblies can be unprotected when complying with the following:
3.1 The aggregate area of the unprotected portions shall not exceed 80 square feet per story
3.2 Fire blocking in accordance with Section R302.11.1 shall be installed along the perimeter of the unprotected portion to separate the unprotected portion from the remainder of the floor assembly.

Add new standard to Chapter 44 as follows:
NFPA 13R—07 Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Residential Occupancies Up to and Including Four Stories in height

Reason:
RB31-09/10 merely proposes to require a minimum of ½” gypsum wallboard on all unprotected floor assemblies with exceptions for sprinklered buildings and certain crawlspaces. SBCA’s position on this subject is to provide a requirement that applies equally to all building component types and does not provide a competitive advantage to specific types of construction where they would be exempt from the requirements.

Click here to see statistics of firefighter deaths. It is a global report that shows all firefighter deaths and their causes from 1980-2011. This report shows that less than 5% of all firefighter deaths occur from injuries sustained in structural collapses. Of the total structural products involved in firefighter deaths with roughly 60% involve conventionally framed systems and 13% involving trusses.

The following spreadsheet is a list of NIOSH reports showing firefighter fatalities that involved a structural collapse. Of those reports, 11 involved firefighter deaths from the collapse of solid sawn floor joist and roof construction and 9 (with potentially 2 more) involved I-joists, MPC wood trusses, and steel trusses combined. This shows that there is no compelling evidence to suggest that engineered products are any more dangerous than solid sawn materials in real fire situations.

Links to the full NIOSH reports are included for more details.

 

NIOSH Report date

Conventional Construction

Structural Building Components

State

Fatality #

NIOSH Report # (link)

4/4/2008

Solid Sawn 2x10- Floor collapse

 

OH

2

F2008-09

7/5/2008

Brick parapet wall collapse

 

TX

1

F2008-21

7/22/2008

Solid Sawn - Floor collapse

 

IL

1

F2008-26

1/26/2007

 

I-Joist- Floor collapse

TN

 

F2007-07

2/4/2007

Canopy collapse on garage - traditional wooden construction

 

PA

2

F2007-08

2/21/2006

Wall collapse-ordinary construction

 

AL

2

F2006-07

6/25/2006

 

I-Joist Floor collapse

IN

1

F2006-24

8/13/2006

 

I-Joist/Floor trusses - Floor collapse

WI

1

F2006-26

12/30/2006

Collapsed awning- 2x4 framing lumber

 

TX

1

F2007-01

2/19/2005

Solid Sawn roof collapse (wood framed building

 

TX

1

F2005-09

1/9/2004

Solid sawn - floor collapse

 

PA

1

F2004-05

4/8/2004

Brick façade collapse

 

TN

1

F2004-37

1/20/2003

Crushed by concealed chimney - balloon frame

 

PA

1

F2003-04

6/15/2003

 

Open web steel truss- roof collapse

TN

2

F2003-18

2/11/2002

Brick veneer collapsed. Wood frame platform construction

 

TX

1

F2002-07

3/4/2002

Wood frame w/masonry veneer - floor collapse

 

NC

1

F2002-11

3/7/2002

 

LW Pre-engineered trusses w plywood sheathing & various floor coverings

NY

2

F2002-06

7/4/2002

Duplex -twin frame of a balloon frame - roof collapse

 

NJ

3

F2002-32

9/14/2002

Balloon frame- roof collapse

 

IA

1

F2002-40

9/30/2002

Parapet wall collapse

 

IN

1

F2002-44

11/1/2002

Exterior wall collapse- balloon frame

 

PA

1

F2002-49

11/25/2002

2x10s heavy timber roof - collapse

 

OR

3

F2002-50

2/25/2001

Wall collapse-ordinary construction

 

WI

1

F2001-09

3/8/2001

 

MPC wood trusses - floor collapse

OH

1

F2001-16

3/18/2001

2nd floor collapse - unspecified construction

 

MO

2

F2001-15

6/16/2001

 

MPC roof trusses-roof collapse

SC

1

F2001-27

2/14/2000

 

MPC roof trusses-roof collapse - McDonalds

TX

2

F2000-13

4/20/2000

 

MPC floor trusses- floor collapse

AL

1

F2000-26

12/28/2000

 

MPC roof trusses-roof collapse

AR

4 injured

F2001-03

1/10/1999

Balloon frame- roof collapse (singled our balloon framing in notes of action)

 

CA

1

99-F03

1/19/1999

Chimney Collapse - fire investigator

 

NY

1

99-F06

3/8/1998

 

Wooden truss roof collapse (unsure if SBC)

CA

1

98-F07

6/5/1998

2nd level collapse - wood frame

 

NY

2 and 4 seriously injured

98-F17

6/11/1998

Roof porch collapse - tin roofing supported by 4 colums

 

VA

1

98-F18

9/5/1998

Parapet wall collapse - heavy wood truss construction

 

VT

1

98-F20

8/29/1998

2x10s roof - collapse

 

MS

2

98-F21

12/31/1998

Balloon frame walls & heavy wood gabled roof - roof collapse

 

GA

1

99-F04

2/17/1997

Wood framing - floor collapse

 

KY

1

97-04

3/18/1996

 

Roof trusses 2x6 collapse - not sure if SBCs

VA

2

96-17

 

         

Total:

11

9 (with potential 2 more)

 

 

 

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