Thursday, January 7, 2010

Crappy building material endangers firefighters

From the Daily News:

Before the firefighters could turn their hoses on the blaze, the restaurant’s front window melted and the fire jumped to the awning. The overhang burst into flames and rained melted plastic onto the sidewalk like a fire-laden waterfall.

Shortly after the incident, Walls began researching EIFS, a lightweight synthetic wall covering used to insulate more than 500,000 houses and commercial buildings across the country. He wrote an article for the FDNY’s official training magazine WNYF, in which he recounted the Whitestone fire and suggested changes in firefighting tactics when combating a blaze involving EIFS.

“There is an inherent danger to it,” said Walls, a 22-year veteran of the FDNY. “It’s not a cellular-based material. It’s a petroleum-based material. And it brings with it all the baggage petroleum has.”

EIFS industry leaders say the stucco-like insulation is safe when installed with properly tested materials. They point to the fire safety track record of the product, developed after World War II to help rebuild Europe.

The city building code allows the use of EIFS in construction as long as the materials used to install the product meet fire safety standards.

When it comes to EIFS, Walls said, looks can be deceiving. The test is as simple as knocking: If you hear a hollow sound, the substance is most likely EIFS, he said.


Anonymous said...

Aside from fires, its a crappy product overall.

You can just about poke a finger through a wall made of the stuff, it discolors and shows damage quite easily, and a tear/rip can spread fast.

Not to mention that during insulation, a neighborhood can expect to be snowed by a dusting of little white flakes of the stuff from the shaving process they perform once its on the walls before putting on the top coat.

Its nasty, nasty stuff in every way, but its cheap, so queens loves it.

Anonymous said...

*during installation

Anonymous said...

Just think - 50-60 years ago, we would have been using either encapsulated asbestos board/shingles for a lot of this, or stucco with asbestos in the mix, or fire retardant on the inside

Anonymous said...

The funny (or sad?) part is, those installations from 50-60 years ago? They are just about all still holding up. They are mostly only dangerous during removal.

Dryvit and its ilk look like crap after just a few years and require more maintenance.

James Reynolds said...

Before attempting to remove any stucco it is important to have a sample analyzed to asbestos. There are several labs through out the country that can test samples for asbestos. To collect a sample, just take a few very small chips from the material you wish to remove and send them to a lab. If the samples come back positive I would suggest hiring someone that specializes in stucco removal in PA as asbestos can lead to a variety of health problems and it is something that someone with experience should be dealing with.