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Changes in building features.
These pictures show how buildings are altered over the years and with change of ownership and/or occupancy type.

You can see that what used to be windows are now bricked in.

This is very common on older buildings that had numerous windows and in some cases they are not very efficient. Owners will frame or brick them in just to eliminate the problem all together.

The problem is we don’t know what the inside sill and frame-out of the inside of the window is like.

This is important to note when your doing your 360 or pre-planning.

When firefighters become lost or disoriented we are taught to find a window or door on an outside wall. The inside of this building may feel like windows to the gloved hand, but in reality it has been blocked up.

A firefighter may spend a great deal of time and energy trying to get out the “window” and not move on to an actual egress point.

Keep these things in mind and get to know your area. We probably all have these buildings with these feature changes in our area and we have an obligation to point these out to our newer firefighters. Stay prudent and be involved in your jurisdiction’s building construction and occupancy types.

Stay safe and keep cool.

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-The photos emphasis the absolute necessity for a company to get out and preplan and familiarize themselves with their response area.
-The unfortunate problem is that in many FD's with the varied and broad cross training going on and the need to maintain the ever increasing amount of certifications while still answering all manner of alarms, the time left to properly preplan a building and catalogue the information in a retrievable format is almost nonexistent.
-The preplan problem is even more insidious in departments that unwisely regularly move their people around without concern for crew continuity, experience or preplan information. Some Fd's, my own included, use manpower pools for firefighters which can cause daily movement for some firefighters between stations based on daily needs. Rather than immediately assigning a member to a company, this manpower pool continues until a member has enough seniority to bid on a permanent position. Get promoted and this manpower pool thing starts all over again.
-For preplanning to work there must be crew consistency and crew continuity as well as a method for cataloging and retrieving this data in a timely manner.
You guys are absolutely right. I've noticed more places are using glass block to fill in openings. Depending on the thickness of the block, a firefighter may or may not be able to break through. They may find the opening because of the light passing through and not be able to use it.

I've gotten in the habit of taking a longer route back to the station after a call to monitor any changes to buildings and properties, even road projects, which will require a possible change in tactics, response, and a more organized pre-plan visit.

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