Modern building technology is an amazing thing. That being said, technology can also create new firefighter hazards unforeseen by many. For example on a recent building familiarization tour with my truck company, we located many of these pre-engineered smoke ventilation hatches on a new constructed occupancy in my district.
We all know working on the roof is dangerous. Our working environment often yields decreased visibility; night time darkness; seasonal weather related stressors with poor footing; not to mention our traditional heat, smoke and even fire hazards.
My district has been steadily evolving with new construction over the past decade. I am sure many of you are experiencing the same. The big box store boom is on around me, with a lot of Type II construction in the industrial and commercial district setting. With this building design, it is critically important that your companies physically tour these facilities to locate new possible hazards.
These "smoke hatches" are spring loaded ventilation port holes that contain a fusible link so they can automatically activate to reduce high heat and gases trapped below the roof line. When working appropriately, they will open and ventilate automatically and you should find them in the open position upon arrival.
They do include a manual release mechanism (see picture above) for a firefighter manual activation. * * * Safety Nugget. These hatches are hinged on the sides and they are spring loaded. THEY OPEN VERY QUICKLY. In the picture depicted above, they are hinged and will spring open from the center (split door operation)
Therefore never place your body over the top of these hatches when walking, sanding or operating on the roof. These can also be hidden underneath the snow after a significant snowstorm. When operating on the roof and you want to manually activate the depicted handle, we suggest using a pike pole to extend your reach and pull the grab handle towards your body. This will reduce the potential hazard of being struck by the rapidly opening metal doors; provide physical distance from the actual opening (reducing a potential fall hazard) during a decreased visibility operations.
More importantly, please get out and on these roof's before the address is on fire! We must learn which occupancies have these ventilation openings in our district. #TruckOnBrothers #FDIC2016
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