The Main Street 360, Part II

Joe Pronesti delivers two parts on size-up and building construction focusing on the “main street” commercial structure common throughout the country. The first part looked at what you encounter on the front. His second part covers the rear and our mindset when it comes to residential versus commercial structure fires.

The Main Street 360 Part I | Part II

The Rear

Ok, so now how do you quickly get eyes on the rear? This can be a tricky process that due to the size of the block can at times be neglected until additional resources arrive. I urge you however to get some type of reconnaissance as soon as you arrive most Main Streets were once the hub of shopping and living and may still be this means that they also probably have some type of rear alleyway or drive so goods could be delivered without interrupting daily activities.

The rear will also most likely give you an indication of what is going on if anything in the basement, most Main Street basements will have direct access in the rear; if your Main Street block is elevated on the A or front side your basement access will be of a “walk out style” likely on the Charlie or even more likely what will appear to be three floors in the front will be four in the rear counting the basement.

Another important factor in getting eyes on the rear is the placement of fire escapes. Main Street structures with any type of upper floor occupancy will most likely have fire escapes and these must be included in your 360. Are occupants escaping? Do they need assistance? Are the fire escapes in good shape? All questions that need answered during your Main Street 360. (Photo 1)

Canopies, Awnings & Signs
On your 360 note the presence of heavy canopies, awnings, and large signs both on the building creating an eccentric load and on the roof. A mental note of these and their hazards needs to be added on your initial size up as they may not come into play immediately but as seen in the past, if the fire progresses these could injured of kill many firefighters in a collapse.

Residential vs. the Main Street 360

When training in incident command or in younger command officers in size up do we as a fire service differentiate how to do a 360 on a residential versus a commercial? If you do, great but in my experience I have seen the 360 lumped into one size fits all structure. Yes, we want to hit the same things as in fire location, obstacles, exposures, etc. but the main street 360 needs to focus on several items that are not found at your everyday residential fire event. (Photo 2)

No posts to display