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.