oakland fire…

July 7, 2017 § Leave a comment

Reading early reports of a massive fire in downtown Oakland at a construction site where 6 stories of apartments were being built.  While there’s no word on the cause yet, a quick Google Maps street view…

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 12.34.06 PM

…shows that as of March the building was up a couple of stories.  While the lower level (designed to be retail storefronts) are all obviously reinforced concrete, the upper stories are all lightweight timber with foam insulation.  Those would all get sprinklered, one assumes, but the material itself is not only not fire-resistant, it’s actually flammable.  Hard to tell from the street, but this view doesn’t show anything like fire walls being constructed to separate elements of the whole-block-long site from one another, which would mean that once it starts, there’s not much to start a fire from racing through the light frame construction.

So, all perfectly legal, but a reminder that, as at Grenfell Tower, the gradual retreat in code-world from fire-resistant materials in multi-story buildings isn’t a slam dunk.  Sprinklers save lives, and the latest thoughts on timber high rises all assume heavy, ‘slow burning’ construction instead of the lightweight stuff here.  Still, a sobering reminder that what buildings are made out of can make a huge difference in how they perform in emergencies…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading oakland fire… at architecturefarm.

meta