The Sunday Preach:
Single... or am I?
"Legally or illegally, many of these homes have been converted to accommodate the addition of extended family or even an entire other family, effectively making them two-family homes." (Page XIV).
Many of the single family dwellings in our first due response areas have been converted into multiple dwellings. Most not done through legal means with no code enforcement officials, architect or engineers involved in the conversion.
Such shoddy homeowner renovations can become problematic for us when operating. The home interior may be substantially altered (staircases removed, walls added, hallways diverted, utilities overtaxed) to create different apartments. Spaces normally uninhabited such as basements, attics and garages are being converted to living space for additional income for the owner. This is a common occurrence in the urban environment. That said, it is also, becoming more common in the suburban and rural environment.
It is something that you must be cognizant of, and be on the lookout for. There may be some tell tale, give away signs. Some may be fairly obvious, others more subtle.
As you are sizing up the building, may see some clues that could indicate that this is not a single residence. A few things to look for: several doorbells/buzzers, multiple mailboxes, more than one gas and/or electric meter.
As we always say, keep those blinders off and use every opportunity to inventory your buildings (such as routine runs, EMS, building inspection).
With more apartments, we must anticipate more occupants in the home, and more chances for fire. Tactically, we may not have the usual avenues for bread and butter operations such as line placement, ventilation and search. Things may prove difficult due to the building being chopped up from its original floor plan.
What may seem single, may not be... get out there and see what's going on in your first due!