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Hello Brothers and Sister,
This comes from Spain where we have two of the 20 most dense high rise cities on earth, Benidorm and Valladolid. I want all of you to look at the following site: PHOTOS BENIDORM SPAIN, and base on the following data, exchange thought on preparing for a major high incident.
Benidorm is a Mediterranean coast resort with a "fixed" population of some 40,000 year round residents, mostly retired couples and workers in service activities and construction. Right now, March 10th, the real population is about 80,000 which includes several thousand more retired folks and a lot of non-Spanish speaking tourists. Four months from now, the population can reach more than 100,000 with similar mix. However, during the month of August, that population can reach 1,000,000 people, the majority again non-Spanish speaking, thousands of adolescents doing the early morning disco rounds (minimun age for alcoholic beverage consumption is 18).
The Benidorm fire department is a career public service unit within the Alicante provincial brigade composed of some 440 firefighters responding from 12 station. The Benidorm FD responds from one (1) station with an average of 10 FF's on duty (24hrs. on 72hrs off) manning one 100 ft.aerial, one 85 ft. snorkel, two to three 500 and 600 gpm pumpers, a rescue truck one rural/forestry engine and a water rescue unit. The nearest "second due" station is approximately 20 minutes away, and in case of a severe incident it would take nearly one hour to get 50 FF's on scene.
Any comments?Looking forward to hearing from any and all.

Keep safe over there,

George Potter

Views: 217

Replies to This Discussion

Give us a rundown of the buildings themselves. Fireproof? how many stories? stairwells? standpipes? Whats your Dept. operating procedures for a fire on the upper floors in these buildings? Elevators w/ firemen service?
As far as the manpower problem you might have to use the minimal manpower to perform a defensive attack. Closing door to fire apt. if you can and windows above.
Barry,
Building construction in Spain is for the most part fire resistant, steel structure generally cement-clad. Newer highrises, specially office use, are proteced steel structures with lightweight floors. The Benidorm situation is mostly small residential apartments, 1 to 3 bedrooms, kitchenette, bathroom and combined living/dining room, many some 30 to 40 years old. Only until very recently, some 15 to 20 years ago, stairwells were unprotected and open onto each floor. Fortunately, it was customary to have only 4 to 6 living units per floor. A highrise by Spanish building codes is a building whose evacuation height is maximum 28 meters = some 94 feet = 9 stories. Highrise office buildings, hotels and hospitals are required to have emergency response plans implemented, highrise family residential use buildings no. Newer buiildings have protected stairwells, often including pressurized vestibules. Only a few specific buildings have purpose-built FD elevators. As I stated in the introductory note last year, Benidorm FD cannot get adequate manpower on scene in less than 1/2 hour. Several years ago in Madrid, the 26 storey Windsor office building burned down (several floors collapsed). One hour into the incident the Madrid FD had some 200 FFs on site. On FD arrival, there were no potential victims inside. 3 hours into the incident, the chief ordered all out and swithched to a totally defensive mode. The major Spanish cities can get reasonable manpower on scene in a brief time. Others, with fewer highrises - even 1 highrise is an potential disaster, do not have the resources available within their own services or even through mutual aid.

Barry Harpur said:
Give us a rundown of the buildings themselves. Fireproof? how many stories? stairwells? standpipes? Whats your Dept. operating procedures for a fire on the upper floors in these buildings? Elevators w/ firemen service?
As far as the manpower problem you might have to use the minimal manpower to perform a defensive attack. Closing door to fire apt. if you can and windows above.
George,

Just saw a skyline photo of Benidorn. Pretty good size buildings. Saw what looked like a 35 story residential there. If you only got 10 FF's on scene for a structural fire on an upper floor or any floor for that matter your in trouble. Especially is you have a window fail, the apartment door open and a good wind condition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NJEz4PUYNk&feature=PlayList&... a look at this fire behavior video.

You'de be looking to make a quick attack if possible before you reach anywhere near these conditions. If you don't your gonna have a serious problem. Look into the KO Curtain, fire blanket and the High-rise nozzle. Their defensive tools to help with the blowtorch conditions encountered allowing for a aggressive interior attack. Sounds like you gotta lobby with your chiefs to get the city to upgrade all the buildings to above fire code standards not only for the residents safety but yours and your brother FF's. Sprinklers, SELF-ClOSING DOORS for all apt.s especially, fireman service elevators, 2 1/2" hoselines. Could you run me through a fire in one of these buildings? What your procedures are now. type of equipment in use? jobs performed by those 10 men. stuff like that.

Barry

George H. Potter said:
Barry,
Building construction in Spain is for the most part fire resistant, steel structure generally cement-clad. Newer highrises, specially office use, are proteced steel structures with lightweight floors. The Benidorm situation is mostly small residential apartments, 1 to 3 bedrooms, kitchenette, bathroom and combined living/dining room, many some 30 to 40 years old. Only until very recently, some 15 to 20 years ago, stairwells were unprotected and open onto each floor. Fortunately, it was customary to have only 4 to 6 living units per floor. A highrise by Spanish building codes is a building whose evacuation height is maximum 28 meters = some 94 feet = 9 stories. Highrise office buildings, hotels and hospitals are required to have emergency response plans implemented, highrise family residential use buildings no. Newer buiildings have protected stairwells, often including pressurized vestibules. Only a few specific buildings have purpose-built FD elevators. As I stated in the introductory note last year, Benidorm FD cannot get adequate manpower on scene in less than 1/2 hour. Several years ago in Madrid, the 26 storey Windsor office building burned down (several floors collapsed). One hour into the incident the Madrid FD had some 200 FFs on site. On FD arrival, there were no potential victims inside. 3 hours into the incident, the chief ordered all out and swithched to a totally defensive mode. The major Spanish cities can get reasonable manpower on scene in a brief time. Others, with fewer highrises - even 1 highrise is an potential disaster, do not have the resources available within their own services or even through mutual aid.

Barry Harpur said:
Give us a rundown of the buildings themselves. Fireproof? how many stories? stairwells? standpipes? Whats your Dept. operating procedures for a fire on the upper floors in these buildings? Elevators w/ firemen service?
As far as the manpower problem you might have to use the minimal manpower to perform a defensive attack. Closing door to fire apt. if you can and windows above.
Barry,

This could turn into a Round Table discussion (hopefully!!!). Benidorm was a quiet fishing village up to about 50 years ago when Spain started to modernize and the Franco dictatorship opened the doors. Benidorm is on the Mediterranean coast between Valencia and Alicante, and has a unique micro-climate; not hellishly hot in Summer and very mild in Winter. The town quickly became a retirement enclave for Spaniards and Europeans. Builders and local politicians came to realize that as no strict and applicable building codes existed nationally nor regionally, and those existing were generally overlooked, they could do just about anything the wanted. So, by the mid-1980's, nearly 100 residential apartment blocks over 10 stories had been built, some as high as 30 floors. No protected stairwells, no FD elevators, no standpipes nor fire hoses. Sprinklers were unheard of in residential buildings as was detection. The single fire station was a garage shared with street maintenance vehicles. I delivered the 86 ft. snorkel in 1984, it was the FD's only aerial device for nearly 10 years. There are at least 200 highrises in Benidorm now, including the 50+ storey Bali Hotel, Europe's second tallest hotel. Today, highrises must have specially protected stairwells (forced over pressure venting), and fire resistant structure. Only in highrise hotels, offices and hospitals are sprinklers required (National building codes known as CÓDIGOS TÉCNICOS DE EDIFICACIÓN - Technical Building Codes), which are generally enforced by municipal technicians - architects. SOPs or SOGs for highrise incidents? Hope to God that the fire is below floor 9, get the 100 ft. aerial and the two 500 gpm engines on scene a.s.a.p. and communicate probable mutual aid needs before arrival. I didn't say in previous notes, the municipal fire water system cannot handle much more than three or four 500 gpm pumpers. 20 years ago when the then mayor asked the then (and still) FD chief what he considered most needed to improve the FD, the chief replied, "duplicate staffing". Instead, he got a new station, the 100 ft stick, a new engine and, 1 to 2 more FFs per shift, several replacing retirees. Statistically however, Benidorm has not had a "serious" highrise fire during the last 40 odd years. For the local politicians, this means that the city is adequately protected, even during the peak vacation month of August when the population reaches some 1,000,000. Any more questions?
Barry, what is your FD, your population coverage and how many highrises do you have?
Keep safe.
George,

I'd say the minute a report of a fire is called mutual aid should be sent right away, if thats not the plan already. Unfortunatley it sounds like the politicians have the same attitude everywhere. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" They never realize that with fires, its all about being prepared for the worst and hoping for the best. But when something happens they always blame someone else.
I work for the FDNY. Population coverage is almost 10 million and the largest vertical city on the world. We have enough manpower for high-rise fires. There has to be a number of factors for a high-rise fire to get out of control. We get a couple of really good high-rise fires a year. Always learning something new from each one. I know you said that the weather is usually mild but the wind condition on the upper floors can be different than the ground floors.
On a 10-77 (fire in a hi-rise multiple dwelling) we get 4 engines; 4 ladders; a rescue company; a squad company; an Engine for EMS work, a FAST ladder (firefighter assist and search team); and 7 chiefs. Not all the fires turn out to be bad enough to need this many but when they are bad you need more than this to combat the fire. this turns out to be around 68 ff's. There are many things to take care of and be prepared for during these types of fires. Sufficient manpower is very important.
Barry,
I should have realized that you are in the global leader in highrise experience and knowledge. As you say, manpower is the MOST important element in highrise intervention. It would take the Alicante provincial brigade nearly an hour to get more than 60 FFs on scene anywhere in the province, while Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville can mobilize that many in around 15 minutes, while having between 15 to 20 as first responders to a highrise. There are several other municipalities in this country with many buildings over 12 stories, and not a few upwards of 25 or more floors, and with absolutely rediculous manning. The ratio of firefighters to population here is somewhere around 1:2,300, and many municipalities with 20,000 or more inhabitants do not even have FDs. FDNY's roster is close to half the entire Spanish public fire service.

For Aaron Keddy: Yes, it is a recipe for disaster, but so far no major highrise incident has occurred during "prime time", although there have been several noteworthy ones.

Keep safe,




Barry Harpur said:
George,

I'd say the minute a report of a fire is called mutual aid should be sent right away, if thats not the plan already. Unfortunatley it sounds like the politicians have the same attitude everywhere. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" They never realize that with fires, its all about being prepared for the worst and hoping for the best. But when something happens they always blame someone else.
I work for the FDNY. Population coverage is almost 10 million and the largest vertical city on the world. We have enough manpower for high-rise fires. There has to be a number of factors for a high-rise fire to get out of control. We get a couple of really good high-rise fires a year. Always learning something new from each one. I know you said that the weather is usually mild but the wind condition on the upper floors can be different than the ground floors.
On a 10-77 (fire in a hi-rise multiple dwelling) we get 4 engines; 4 ladders; a rescue company; a squad company; an Engine for EMS work, a FAST ladder (firefighter assist and search team); and 7 chiefs. Not all the fires turn out to be bad enough to need this many but when they are bad you need more than this to combat the fire. this turns out to be around 68 ff's. There are many things to take care of and be prepared for during these types of fires. Sufficient manpower is very important.
An update on the Benidorm, Spain situation. They now have two (2) stations, manned by an average of 12 per 24 hour shift.
Barry, in answer to your last note (April 15):
- A Spanish hi-rise is 28 or more meters - 92,4 feet.
- Building construction is generally fire resistant; reinforced concrete structure, concrete or brick exterior walls
and cement floors. However, in the last 20 - 30 years lightweight steel structures and floors have become
quite common, mostly in office and commerciasl buildings, as well as some hotels.
- As from 20 years ago, stairwells must be protected. However, since more tha half of the hi-rises in Benidorm
were built between 1970 and 1990, nearly all stairwells are open.
- Standpipes have been required for nearly all buildings in Spain since 1970. However, diameter is 75 mm.
3 inches galvanized steel. Manual fire hose points are not part of the standpipes, they are supplied
separately from a building system. Most FDs do not trust building systems, including standpipes, as lack
of internal maintenance is notorious here.
- Spanish FDs use 2 3/4 inch hose for water supply and 1 3/4 inch attack hose. Many even use 1 inch for
attack.
- Very few hi-rises have FD stairs or elevators. Generally, FFs ascend by building stairways and do not use
elevators.
- Although specific use buildings - hospitals, hotels, commercial buildings, etc. are required to have
up-to-date internal Emergency Response Plans especially hi-rises (a great base for FD pre-emergency
planning) most FFs and mid-level commanders are unaware of these documents.
- A few FDs do get out on the street and do some sort of pre-incident planning. I have instructed several
FDs on this but it is still a long way from being generally applied.

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