Engine Company, Fire Dynamics, Truck Company

Response Considerations for an “Old” Midwestern Home

Issue 3 and Volume 171.

By BILL GUSTIN   Scenario: A stately old home in a small Midwestern town is showing heavy fire conditions in the attic (photos 1, 2). In these types of homes, it is common to find the attic converted into a finished half-story to create new bedrooms. When a half-story is used as a living space, the habitable portion of the attic is commonly separated from the diminishing/triangular space where the slope of the roof meets exterior walls by the knee walls. Knee walls create a very dangerous concealed space; fire hiding behind knee walls can blast out of that space with a vengeance, seriously burning firefighters (see “Fires in 2½-Story Buildings,” Fire Engineering, June 2017). At this fire, firefighters operated as if the home had a finished half-story until they determined that there were no bedrooms or knee walls in the attic. However, the attic had a wood deck subfloor…

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