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Get to know building construction

It’s important firefighters understand the construction differences between a historic 100-year-old building and a house built six months ago

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Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for firefighters and it deals with understanding the construction of buildings in your area.

Buildings that are being built today are substantially different from those built 20, 15, and even 10 years ago.

It is important for firefighters to understand the construction differences between a historic 100-year-old building and a house built six months ago. The solution to this challenge is to study the buildings. Oftentimes, this is easier than you might think.

First, you need to know the different building types. There is a big difference between a type 1 and a type 5 building. If you’re not familiar with this classification system, I recommend you do a little research. Knowing a building’s construction and type is critical to anticipating how long the building will remain structurally stable during a fire.

Each time you walk into any building is an opportunity to learn. When you enter a home on a medical call, look around. See how the house was built. Make a mental note of the windows and doors. Are there bars on the windows or additional locks on the door which could make it harder to enter or exit during an emergency?

When you go grocery shopping, check out the building while you are there. Look for alarm panels and sprinkler systems. Try to find the fire department connection and the nearest hydrant. Every day should be a training day. Every time you walk into a building, you have a learning opportunity. It will help you if ever need to fight a fire at that specific building. It will also help you become more familiar with building construction in general.

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.

Gordon Graham has been actively involved in law enforcement since 1973. He spent nearly 10 years as a very active motorcycle officer while also attending Cal State Long Beach to achieve his teaching credential, USC to do his graduate work in Safety and Systems Management with an emphasis on Risk Management, and Western State University to obtain his law degree. In 1982 he was promoted to sergeant and also admitted to the California State Bar and immediately opened his law offices in Los Angeles.