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Coffee Table Quick Tips: Vol. 2 - Issue 7

Property Storage or Personal Shelter

It is no secret that today’s economy is having an astronomical impact on the ability for the working class to purchase or maintain a place of residency. Unfortunately with this problem, desperate times are being met with citizens taking drastic measures to seek temporary shelter for themselves and/or their families.

The development of storage unit are on the rise with the majority of them having the benefit of providing a climate controlled environment to better protect and accommodate the personal belongings of those who rent them on a monthly basis.

While these spaces (typically 10’x10’) aren’t designed to be habitable, many of those in need of housing, including vagrants, are using storage units as a transitory means of residency.

With the composition of storage spaces being constructed predominately of non-combustible materials; (cement block, metal, etc.) the contents of furnisher, records and sometimes motorized equipment are highly combustible and pose a significant fire load threat to those responding.

It is imperative that we treat fires in storage units in the same manner as a residential structure fire and implement a primary search of the area due to the influx of incidents occurring that have found people seeking shelter within them.

Signs to look for on arrival that indicate someone living in the storage unit

  • Extension cords being ran to the storage unit.
  • Accumulation of food trash in the remote area that appear to be recent.
  • A dog bowl for food or water left outside of the roll-up door.
  • The absence of a fortified door (NO padlock on the roll-up).

Safety concerns to consider for on-scene personnel

  • Hoarding like conditions.
  • Potential for collapse of stacked stored materials.
  • Limited access/egress with the roll-up being the primary and lone point.

AB Turenne is a 25-year veteran of the fire service and is currently the Captain of Training and Safety with a career department in Middlesex County Connecticut. As a Certified Level III Fire Service Instructor, AB's training curriculum has proven to be conducive with the operational needs of those he teaches and in turn has improved the human capital knowledge of many. A graduate from the Master of Public Administration program at Anna Maria College, AB has continued his efforts in training and education by contributing to the Fire Engineering Training Community.

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