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The hidden fire

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The hidden fire


By Mark van der Feyst

On March 17, 2011 two firefighters were killed in a commercial building when the roof caught on fire and collapsed on top of them. The conditions of the fire on arrival were light smoke coming from the roof. Within minutes thick black smoke along with visible flames were exiting the roof area.

A short time after, the roof collapsed trapping the two firefighters. The occupancy was a dollar-store type of business with a drop ceiling hiding the roofline. It was noted afterwards that roofers that day were using a torch to repair the flat roof and tried to put out a small fire using snow. What was not known was that the fire had extended into the concealed area above the drop ceiling.

A good tactic to employ is poking the ceiling tiles periodically to check for fire extension. As crews advance into a structure, they can use their pike pole or roof hook to check for any hidden danger.

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