Not All Egress is Created Equal
This is a great example of knowing our still districts and the areas that we know will present unique problems when on fire. As you can see this building presents a nightmare of a stairwell, especially if the stairs are a target of arson or lower apartments begin venting fire and smoke into this common area. We can almost count on occupants hanging from windows if the fire is anywhere near this area of the building. Thanks goes out to 4’s for the write-up and pictures.
This is in 4’s still district just above Motor City. There are several apartment buildings in this complex (at least 10) and they are paired in sets of two. This is the center “web” of stairs that connects one building to the other and is the only way out for most of the residents. So which way is up? Good question. The fact is every stair maze is different. In most cases in order to get to the top floor apartments you first must go down at least one flight of stairs, over and back up at least one flight of stairs to get to a pathway that subsequently leads you to the right set of stairs to make it to the top(Sound like a maze?…It is). How do you get down? Well the answer is about the same as above. There is no direct pathway to the bottom level and what you thought would have been the bottom may surprise most people to find at least one unit tucked to rear of the structure.
How is this complicated stair structure supported? The only main walkway is a single twin tee concrete beam supported by concrete posts and some posts are supported by steel box supports. From this center piece, all of the paths are constructed almost as if they are built to access only one or two units before a different path is constructed.
As you can see, ladder access is difficult at best. To get from the parking lot you almost always have to go down hill to get to the building. You would think there is road access from the “C” side of the structure because of the two plugs back there, however access is minimal because of the off road conditions you would encounter to reach the hydrants, and thats if they are even working. Because of the grade/terrain ladder access from the rear is down to 35′ or 45′ ground ladders and even those can only be used in a few places due to the terrain. The building does have some pull stations but it is not monitored and still requires someone to dial 911 before the FD will receive any info that there is a fire at this building. Throughout the maze of stairs you will find BBQ propane grills, spare LPG bottles, trash and gas meters all tucked away into any area that is protected from the weather.
What is your thoughts?…..1st floor fire vs 3rd floor fire, ladder rescues, first line, stretching the line, search.