Develop a Standard 1
Running head: DEVELOP A STANDARD FIRE PREPLAN FOR MULTIPLE
Executive Analysis of Fire Service Operations in Emergency Management
DEVELOP A STANDARD FIRE PREPLAN FOR MULTIPLE APARTMENT
BUILDINGS FOR THE DEARBORN FIRE DEPARTMENT
Nazih M. Hazime
Dearborn Fire Department
Develop a Standard 2
This research project evaluated the barriers and lack of fire preplans with the multiple
apartment buildings in the City of Dearborn that directly affect the Dearborn Fire
Department (DFD) operations. The problem was that the DFD lacks standard fire pre-
incident plans for multiple apartment buildings. The purpose of the research is to
develop standard fire preplan guidelines for apartment buildings to assist the DFD to
overcome their strategic and tactical challenges. Action research method was used to
respond to the following questions:
1. What standard fire preplan guidelines does building management provide to
occupants in apartment buildings?
2. What standard fire preplans do other fire departments have and how are they used
for their strategic and tactical advantage during apartment building fires?
3. What strategic and tactical challenges have been experienced by other fire
departments during apartment building fires?
The procedures included inquiring and evaluating other fire departments and the private
sectors to develop a standard fire preplan guideline for multiple apartment buildings for
the DFD. The results established the need for the development of a fire preplan to
support the DFD strategic and tactical operations during multiple apartment building
fires. The recommendation includes the implementation of a standard fire preplan for
multiple apartment buildings.
Develop a Standard 3
Table of Contents
Abstract ............................................................................................................................... 2
Table of Contents................................................................................................................ 3
Background and Significance ............................................................................................. 5
Literature Review................................................................................................................ 8
Procedure .......................................................................................................................... 19
Discussion ......................................................................................................................... 26
Recommendation .............................................................................................................. 31
Appendix A Sisson Manor................................................................................................ 36
Appendix B Building Survey Form .................................................................................. 37
Appendix C Dearborn Fire Department Multiple Apartment Buildings Fire Pre-Plan
Survey ............................................................................................................................... 38
Develop a Standard 4
The Dearborn Fire Department has experienced problems with multiple apartment
building fires. Strategic and tactical operations are challenging to the suppression crews
when working at these types of incidents. The fire crews are challenged with
unidentifiable hazards within the multiple apartment buildings in the City of Dearborn.
When the fire department responds to these multiple apartment buildings, delays with
advancement and safety issues occur when their unfamiliar with the sites. Every building
is different with construction, age, occupancy, and lack of fire suppression systems.
The lack of fire pre-plan standard guidelines for multiple apartment buildings will
attribute to delays in fire ground operations. In addition, life safety and property
conservation has been compromised because of deficient familiarization of these sites.
Without standard fire preplan guidelines for multiple apartments strategic and tactical
challenges will continue.
The purpose of this research is to develop a standard fire preplan procedure for
multiple apartment structures. In order for the DFD to have a clear perspective of their
responsibility during multiple apartment building fires, standard fire preplans need to be
developed. The method used for this research will be “action” to develop standard
guidelines. These guidelines should clearly define multiple apartment building hazards
and layouts. In addition, this will support the strategic and tactical operations for all fire
companies on the fire ground. Questions will be answered that will help to develop the
standard fire preplans. The first question is: “What standard fire preplan guidelines does
building management provide to occupants in apartment buildings?” The second
Develop a Standard 5
question is: “What standard fire preplans do other fire departments have and how are
they used for their strategic and tactical advantage during apartment building fires? The
third question is: “What strategic and tactical challenges have been experienced by other
fire departments during apartment building fires?” The answers to these questions will
be accomplished by inquiring and evaluating other fire departments and agency fire
preplans for multiple apartment buildings. In addition, gathered information of strategic
and tactical challenges that have occurred will be evaluated. The action research will
provide the necessary information to develop standard guidelines for the strategic and
tactical operations for the DFD.
Background and Significance
In the past, fire fighters were challenged with insufficient information on multiple
apartment building fires. The only thing they new was the buildings exist within their
communities. When a fire incident would occur, it would be the first time the firefighters
walked or crawled into the involved building. Their lack of building familiarization
created a significant risk to them and the occupants. Through time, the only
familiarization of these large and complex buildings would be through false or minor
alarms and medical emergencies. Without proper standard fire preplans for the multiple
apartment buildings, strategic and tactical operations are challenging for all fire
companies on the scene.
The DFD personnel have experienced several multiple apartment building fires
and have been challenged with many obstacles during fire ground operations. The
Develop a Standard 6
obstacles were related to the firefighters inadequate knowledge of the building design
including, building construction, staircases, corridors, elevator shafts, basements,
apartment layouts and locations, and fire suppression systems. The City of Dearborn has
many multiple apartment buildings and several with multiple stories. Many of these
buildings are old, have high occupancy, and without fire suppression systems. Instead of
demolishing and rebuilding them, they are being repaired and refurbished many times
over, as needed.
Fire preplans and fire fighters “right-to-know” was developed to assist the
firefighters in controlling and managing the strategic and tactical operations on the fire
ground. Fire preplans would assist the operations and result in a quick and safe
mitigation of an incident, in conjunctions with the well- being of the firefighters and
A discussion took place in September 2006 with the DFD Deputy Chief and
Battalion Chief’s of the following divisions: Suppression, Emergency Medical Service,
Training, Apparatus, and the Fire Marshal. The discussion, during this monthly Battalion
Chief’s meeting, was the challenges they have experienced with multiple apartment
building fires. It was concluded that there is no current standard fire preplans for the
multiple apartment buildings. Further discussion with the senior personnel resulted in a
consensus that pre-fire standard guidelines for multiple apartment buildings need to be
developed for the DFD. It was agreed that the guidelines would assist in efficiently
achieving their goals and would greatly reduce the risk to the firefighters and occupants.
Presently, the DFD does not have a standard fire preplan for multiple apartment
buildings established. The probable future impact without a fire preplan could result in
Develop a Standard 7
delays to achieve strategic and tactical goals and compromise the safety of the firefighters
and occupants during a multiple apartment building fire.
Under the National Fire Academy Fire Officer Program (EFOP) initiative, one of
the specific key concepts and attitudes that lead to the community risk-reduction process
are that the “prevention and response (operations) functions within an organization must
be integrated into one team. In fact, both operations and prevention have the same goal-
prevent or reduce harm to the public from fire, preventable injuries, etc.” Leading
Community Risk Reduction (LCRR), course R (National Fire Academy [NFA], 2004).
The problem of the DFD’s lack of standard fire preplan guidelines for multiple apartment
buildings to minimize the strategic and tactical challenges and the risk of life safety,
relates to this key concept. The fire preplan for multiple apartment buildings could be
employed as a valuable tool to reduce the risk to firefighters and the occupants and allow
for a more proficient fire ground operation. The community benefits from the
efficiencies gained when a fire preplan is utilized when responding to these types of
Under the Executive Fire Officer Program third year course, “Executive Analysis
of Fire Service Operations in Emergency Management,” is “risk assessment and
emergency operations”, an objective that links to this research project. Establishing fire
pre-plan standard guidelines for multiple apartment buildings, to support fire operations
with building familiarization and reduce the risk to life, is a DFD organizational
Develop a Standard 8
In carrying out the responsibility to protect life and property, firefighters come
across many kinds of buildings throughout their cities. “Each member can combine
his/her experiences and skills with local building knowledge to contribute to pre-fire
planning and training. Walking through an actual building and creating a scenario is
probably the most effective means of reinforcing these ideas.” (Brown, 2004; p. 27)
Garino (2003) identified the problem in Wayne Township when their Wayne
Township Fire Department responded to a hazardous material incident which affected a
large apartment building. The notification system for evacuation or sheltering in place
failed among the residents.
Whiteaker (1999) indicated in Bristol, Tennessee that there are unacceptable
percentages of residents that responded to a survey who still do not understand or who
refuse to react positively in a fire emergency.
Jones (1998) stated the fire crews from Coon Rapids, Minnesota would slide
under each apartment door a copy of an Apartment Fire Safety brochure during building
inspections. The brochure asks residents to inspect their apartments for electrical,
heating, cooking, and other household fire hazards. It also helps residents to become
familiar with their buildings’ fire safety devices and exits.
The City of Dearborn senior citizens high-rise apartment buildings have a fire
escape map for each apartment. This map is designed for each individual apartment and
kept on the inside of each apartment door.
Develop a Standard 9
Bruckner (2001) indicated Fire Department New York (FDNY) operations are
greatly enhanced when members are familiar with particular buildings within their
response districts. To accomplish this, company’s must use every opportunity, (building
inspections, drills, emergency responses, and other outdoor activities), to familiarize
themselves with the challenging buildings. He referred to common questions: How
many lengths of hose do we need to reach the stairs? Is there a well? How do I get to the
roof? And What types of stairs are present? Bruckner concluded that if firefighters ask
questions routinely they will be better prepared to operate safely and efficiently in these
complex buildings under the more stressful conditions of a structural fire.
Brown (2004) stated a three-story old law tenement with a three-window front has
only a rear fire escape, indicating one apartment per floor. A similar building with a
commercial occupancy on the first floor may not require a fire escape at all. He stressed
that this information should be noted. The lack of a fire escape is a vital piece of
information for inside and outside teams and must be communicated.
Dennehy (2002) added that old tenements are from three to seven stories in
height, 20 to 25 feet wide, and of non-fireproof construction. He also found that counting
mailboxes is another method that can help determine the number of fire escapes. In a
five-story tenement, for example, more than 10 mailboxes generally indicate the presence
of two fire escapes. Conversely, if there are 10 or fewer mailboxes, most likely there is
one fire escape, usually found in the rear.
Dennehy found it useful to drive around your district and see how many multiple
apartment buildings you can identify. Then, think about how you would operate at this
Develop a Standard 10
type of buildings during a fire if you were assigned the position of nozzle, roof, outside
Potteiger (1999) shared a consensus among the East Naples Fire Control and
Rescue District suppression division to conduct surveys. After several questions and
concerns were voiced within the suppression division, it was determined that the survey
form must be simple and non-lengthy. He also stated the elements of the survey would
include building construction, alarm functions, occupancy and its hazards, the type of
construction and storage practices.
According to Terpak (2002) the following topics of Garden Apartments and
Townhouses should be considered when fire pre-plans are being developed:
The firefighters and fire officer’s primary construction concern when responding
to a fire in a garden apartment and townhouse is the use of truss design supporting
systems, cold form steel, and pre-fabricated or modular designs.
With the primary focus being on lightweight wood designed trusses, keep in mind
that significant research has shown that a fire attack on lightweight wood trusses will
produce early structural failure.
When reviewing the occupancy size-up factor, you must consider two areas: the
contents of the building and the number of people in the building. Regarding contents,
expect that materials most common to a residential dwelling unit will be stored within the
structure. These materials may range from ordinary combustibles to propane cylinders
for the BBQ grill to paints and solvents; all will present difficulties if involved in fire.
Develop a Standard 11
Garden apartment complex are considered apartment buildings with many
individual apartments served off a common public hallway, all under one roof.
Apparatus Staffing and Operations
Preplanning of the streets, building layouts, and accessibility and having
familiarity with the terrain associated with the complex are key to the effectiveness of
apparatus placement. Identify the difficult areas, and plan ahead.
Preset 2 ½ - or three-inch hose with a gated wye or manifold stretched to the front
door or courtyard allows for the stretching of a number of smaller and mobile hoselines
into the building.
Efficient and effective ladder company operations for the garden apartment and
townhouse will depend on pre-planning and identifying any difficulties with apparatus
maneuverability and placement.
You must be able to identify key ventilation options in all operations. Vertical
ventilation considerations for the ladder company in garden apartment and townhouse
complexes vary according to the building’s design and construction. Knowing the design
type and the construction methods used will greatly aid ventilation efforts when the fire is
located on the top floor or extending into the roof space.
There should also be an overall concern for the apartment or dwelling’s bedroom
areas and under fire conditions how a search and rescue operation would be conducted.
Be aware that garden apartment and town use private fire hydrants, which
typically are not well maintained.
Develop a Standard 12
We know from some of our previous size-up factors that there is no definite and
easy geometric pattern to the streets in many of these complexes.
What can add even more confusion is the method used to letter and number the
buildings within the complex.
When looking at the garden apartment complex, it generally presents itself as one
large multiple dwelling with fire extension focused primarily within the building itself.
Fire walls, when present, are evident by their penetration within the row. In many
cases, there are offset designs and variations in the rooflines to identify their location.
The garden apartment complex will generally follow a floor layout design of two
to four apartments per floor, all accessible from a single interior stair. This stair will
often be the only means of egress for those apartments. This design in most cases will be
the same for all floors served off the interior stair.
Flynn (2003) indicated the success of an aggressive interior attack in a structure
fire depends largely on the effectiveness of roof operations. Primary roof operations
consist of size up, roof access and egress, and ventilation of natural (preexisting)
openings and tools needed to accomplish tasks. He referred to roof operation beginning
not only with size-up upon arrival, but also through pre-fire plans before incidents occur.
Pre-fire plan should include height and area of the building and the question should be
considered if the roof is within the reach of the aerial device or a ground ladder.
Develop a Standard 13
Jones (1998) identified key areas of concern for a multiple apartment building in
Coon Rapids, MN:
• Three story apartment building
• Wood-frame construction
• 60 by 120 feet in size
• Brick veneer and aluminum facial/soffit
• Protected by monitored fire-protection devices such as sprinkler system,
emergency lighting and smoke detectors
• Attic area not protected
Flynn continued to identify the different building types. All buildings can be
classified as one of five different construction types: (1) noncombustible, (2) fire
resistive, (3) ordinary, (4) heavy timber, and (5) wood frame and lightweight. Knowing
the type and characteristics of the building construction on which the roof team members
are operating has a significant impact on determining a course of action. He also refers to
[the National Fire Protection Association 220, Standard on Types of Building
Construction (1995 edition), for a description of building construction types.]
Brady (2000) recognized the Carriage Hill Apartments were built in the early
1970s, type-4 construction with a combination of high-rise buildings and three-story
garden-apartment style units.
Murphy (2004) indicated a careful examination of the kitchen and bathroom must
be made to determine if air vents are present. If such vents are found, the entire line and
adjacent lines must be examined for heat and smoke travel.
Develop a Standard 14
According to Dennehy (2002) fires that spread to rooms that are located on air
shafts are a greater hazard than fire located in rooms with no shafts. The shaft acts like a
chimney and draws heat and gases toward it. The size of the shaft has an influence on
how quickly the fire spreads. He concludes it is vital that members who are assigned the
roof position inform their Company Officer and the Incident Commander of the presence
or absence of shafts and the conditions in the shaft.
Mcknight (1999) recognized when a fire is well-advanced, rapid transmission of
extra alarms is crucial to gain control of the fire. He concluded that unusual problems
often can be overcome by innovative thinking.
Salka (2003) recognized roof ventilation is critical for search, rescue and
extinguishment. Your first choice for accessing the roof is adjoining buildings. This
should be the safest and most dependable method. Simply enter the front door, ascend
the interior stairway to the roof bulkhead, go out onto the roof, crossover to the fire
building, and begin your duties.
Kouba’s (1998) size-up tips:
• Opening skylights and scuttles and deciding what the options are for egress
from roof operations.
• Identify window for rope-type hose stretches.
Stroup (2006) indicated the Fairfax County Fire Department uses a “Building
Survey Form.” The individual fire station companies do the walk-through to record
building information and they either obtain a building “blue print” or the fire crew will
draw one by hand.
Develop a Standard 15
Brown (2004) pointed out that small windows on the top floor of some
brownstone buildings create serious access/egress problems. They may also indicate a
difference in height between the front and rear of the top floor.
According to Bruckner (2001) some of the most challenging building fires
encountered involved H-type apartment houses. These large heavily occupied non-
fireproof buildings can exceed 200 feet in depth and width and vary from four to six
stories; although, buildings on sloping grades may contain nine or more floors. In
addition to the challenges, he indicated that the configuration of these buildings vary, (H,
E, O, U, and triangular).
According to Potteiger (1999), the Fire Prevention Bureau’s heavy workload did
not allow for the inspections of multi-family dwellings to be made within the East Naples
Fire Control and Rescue District. The lack of information such as locating fire
department connections and addresses and recognizing buildings with sprinkler and
standpipes, created problems for suppression personnel when responding to fire related
Murphy (2004) recommended a pre-fire plan and numerous drills at complexes.
Familiarization will point out access roads that are impassable due to improperly parked
Terpak (2002) indicated, depending on the complex, the closest engine company
to the fire building may require 200-300-foot stretch to reach the front door of the
complex, let alone the number of additional lengths needed to cover the entire apartment
or townhouse. He also shared that when positioning a ground ladder and then finding
Develop a Standard 16
that you can’t reach the target height will cause a serious delay in achieving the objective.
Pre-incident size-up is the key.
Salka (2003) stated that an aerial ladder should be raised and extended to the roof
of the fire building for access. This can be dangerous however, due to cornices that slope
toward the roof and high front parapet walls that may have to be negotiated to get onto
the roof from the ladder.
Kouba (1998) reported on a six-story multiple apartment building fire. Seventy-
five-foot tower ladders were limited in their ability to reach the roof to be effective. In
addition to the strategic and tactical challenges, there were exposures of similar buildings
and a cyclone fence topped with razor wire.
McKnight (1999) recognized problems facing the FDNY during fire operations at
an 11-floor apartment building:
• A large volume of fire rapidly extending vertically and horizontally from the
• The need to force entry into all apartments on 11 floors.
• The need for multiple hand-lines on each floor to cover exposed apartments
located on the shaft. (Apartments in the K, L, and M lines were on the shaft
and were severely exposed.)
• Fire extending vertically above the reach of ladders that had cut off the
secondary means of egress to some of the apartments.
• Inability to knock down fire from the exterior due to scaffold and construction
netting obstructing outside stream access.
Develop a Standard 17
• An urgent was transmitted for a partial scaffold collapse, and acetylene tanks
burning on the roof.
• People in apartments on the upper floors and in rear apartments were not yet
aware of the fire problem, had no egress or were cut off from egress.
• Windows on the shaft were failing, permitting fire to enter apartments and
Brennan (2004) reported on a fire in a multiple dwelling and what are some ways
to handle the problems.
• Identify the fire escape balconies which serve two apartments, one on either
side of the access ladder.
• The roof ventilation is vital for control of the public hall and interior stair
enclosure by the extinguishment teams and search/removal/rescue teams.
• Initially, four 1 3/4 hand lines are mandatory, and to be deployed on the fire
floor and the floors above and below the fire floor.
• A tower ladder is the most useful apparatus at the scene, for moving
personnel, horizontal ventilation, search team entry, and victim removal.
• Interior communications on progress on the lower floors is mandatory to
maintain an interior aggressive strategy for as long as possible.
Brady (2000) shared an unusual challenge for the Prince George County
Fire/EMS Department while battling a multiple apartment building fire. He indicated
that they were confronted with explosions caused by nearly 30 oxygen cylinders that
were stored in the apartment of origin. The oxygen was for an elderly female suffering
from cancer. Firefighters had no prior knowledge of the presence of those cylinders.
Develop a Standard 18
The Dearborn Fire Department senior officers clearly were concerned with the
lack of multiple apartment building familiarizations by the members. They identified the
challenges with their strategic and tactical operations and recommend a need for fire pre-
plans of the buildings to address the following obstacles:
• Building addresses visibility
• Fire department connects
• Access and egress
• Hazardous Materials
• Stories and dimensions
• Hydrant locations
• Evacuation plan and accountability
The research found throughout the Literature Review clearly recognizes the need
for multiple apartment building fire pre-plans. The problems identified were either
during emergency incidents or after the fact. According to the authors, pre-fire plans and
familiarization of the multiple apartment buildings would reduce many of challenges
faced by Fire Company’s while performing their tactical and strategic operations.
Develop a Standard 19
The Action Research method was used to approach this Applied Research Project
(ARP) in order to answer the questions presented in the introduction section. The
questions were viewed as a means to provide a base for developing a standard guideline
fire pre-plan for multiple apartment buildings. The information compiled was also
intended to offer a variety of information to identify the strategic and tactical challenges
with multiple apartment building fires.
The process of obtaining information to develop standard procedures, in part, was
done directly at the National Fire Academy’s Resource Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Research was done with the online card catalogue using the NFA Intranet search engine.
The key words used for searching were: “apartment fire operations, pre-fire plan, and
risk assessment”. Material was also gathered locally upon returning to Dearborn,
Michigan. This was accomplished during a staff meeting and speaking with senior
department members who fill leadership roles on the fire ground. These members
included: Deputy Chief, three shifts Battalion Chief’s, a Battalion Chief of Training, the
Emergency Medical Service Coordinator Battalion Chief, the Fire Marshal, and the
Apparatus Supervisor. Additional information was obtained through an e-mail sent to
Executive Fire Officer Program Alumni’s (2004), Executive Development and Executive
Analysis of Fire Service Operations in Emergency Management (2006). The e-mail
consisted of the following request: “Does anyone have a Fire Pre-plan for multiple
apartment buildings, and who completes the pre-plan?” The responses resulted in only
one fire pre-plan survey for multiple apartment buildings. This survey was from Cheri
Develop a Standard 20
Stroup (Captain of Operations) from Fairfax County, Virginia. In addition, contact was
made to the City of Dearborn Housing Director, Floyd Addison, who manages multiple
apartment building high-rises. Mr. Addison provides a fire escape map for each
apartment. The material gathered during this process was reviewed by the mentioned
senior officers. Their point of view for developing a standard fire pre-plan for multiple
apartment buildings was of common interest and taken into consideration.
Assumption and Limitations
The information gathered from discussion with DFD Deputy Chief, James Gillett,
and Battalion Chief’s: under Suppression, Rich Miller, Paul Spearmen, and Tim Prokop;
Training Officer, Chuck Geno; Emergency Management Coordinator, Dean Creech; Fire
Marshal, Jeff Oldenburg; and Apparatus Supervisor, Bruce Hamilton, are assumed to be
true and accurate assessments of strategic and tactical challenges the DFD faces with
multiple apartment buildings.
The terms utilized in this ARP are common to the fire industry and a Definition of
Terms section was not utilized under the Procedures section.
As part of the ARP, information was gathered to answer the three research
Research Question 1: What Standard fire preplan guidelines does building
management provide to occupants in apartment buildings?
Develop a Standard 21
Wayne Township realized the need to provide a more efficient notification system
to their residents of apartment buildings. This would include evacuation or sheltering in
place. It is important for a fire pre-plan to include how residents of apartment buildings
will react and where they will congregate during an emergency for accountability.
The city of Bristol utilized a survey to their residents for fire emergencies. The
response was poor and it was determined that the people who did participate did not
understand and did not respond during an emergency. Apartment building management
and the fire department need to work out the barriers and create an effective fire pre-plan
for the residents.
Coon Rapids, Minesotta fire department created an “Apartment Fire Safety”
brochure during their building inspections. This was a positive approach allowing the
residents to inspect their own apartments for fire hazards. It allowed them to become
familiar with their buildings, fire safety devices, and exits. This approach conveys unity
and an organized pre-fire plan among the apartment building residents and management.
The City of Dearborn owned apartment buildings provide fire escape maps for
each apartment. (Appendix A) This includes identified staircases which would be used
by the resident. This information would assist in a fire pre-plan for accountability and
operations during a fire.
Research Question 2: What standard fire preplans do other fire departments have
and how are they used for their strategic and tactical advantage during apartment building
Fire Department New York (FDNY) indicated their fire operations in multiple
apartment buildings are greatly enhanced when members are familiar with them. This
Develop a Standard 22
appeared to be an informal process and shared some question that should be asked: How
many lengths of hose do we need to reach stairs? How do I get to the roof? What types
of stairs are present? On a positive note, they did indicate questions should be asked
while in these buildings to be better prepared during a fire.
Fire Department New York also shared their concern of three-story old law
tenement apartment buildings. These types of buildings are lacking fire escapes and this
should be noted. It was determined the number of mailboxes will indicate the number of
fire escapes. These apartments also can vary in height from three to seven stories and are
of non-fireproof construction. It was realized useful and they were advised to drive
around their district to identify multiple apartment buildings then think about assigned
positions of nozzle, roof, outside ventilation, etc.
East Naples Fire Control and Rescue District received a consensus from their fire
department members and concluded to use a simple and non-lengthy survey. This survey
would be used for building surveys and include: building construction, alarm functions,
occupancy and its hazards, the type of construction, and storage practices.
Jersey City, New Jersey Fire Department shared topics to be considered when fire
pre-plans are being developed:
• Apparatus staffing and operations
• Street conditions
Develop a Standard 23
Yonkers Fire Department, New York referred to roof operation beginning not
only with size-up upon arrival, but also through fire pre-plans. Included in the fire pre-
plan should be the height and area of the building and to also consider if the roof is within
the reach of the aerial device or a ground ladder. The fire department also classified the
five different construction types: noncombustible, fire resistive, ordinary, heavy timber,
and wood frame and lightweight. This information would impact the course of fire
operations during an incident.
Coon Rapids, Minesotta identified key areas of concern for a multiple apartment
• Three story apartment building
• Wood-frame construction
• 60 by 120 feet in size
• Brick veneer and aluminum facial/soffit
• Protected by monitored fire-protection devices such as sprinkler system,
emergency lighting and smoke detectors
• Attic area not protected
Prince George County garden apartments were recognized as type-4 construction
with a combination of high-rises and three story buildings. Building construction
awareness is critical for size-up and for planning fire operations. Heavy building timber
verses light weight timber and the time factors will assist the Incident Commander in
deciding weather to approach offensive or defensive.
Develop a Standard 24
Manhattan, New York indicated common heat and smoke that travel in multiple
apartment buildings are found in kitchen and bathroom air vents. In addition, to size-up,
tips identify skylights and scuttles for roof company’s to egress through. To also support
operations, windows need to be identified for rope-type hose stretches.
Fire Department New York stated apartment buildings with air shafts create a
chimney effect for heat and gases to travel. They determined, as part of their operations,
to immediately send crews to the roof to size-up the shafts and relay their findings to
operations. They recognized that when a fire is in the advanced stages, additional alarms
must be activated with multiple apartment buildings. They also found it necessary to
identify adjoining buildings which can be utilized for access to the roof of the building
Fairfax County Fire Department conducts building surveys utilizing a “Building
Survey Form.” Fire companies do walk through and record building information
including building lay outs. (Appendix B)
Research Question 3: What strategic and tactical challenges have been
experienced by other fire departments during apartment building fires?
Fire Department New York recognized access/egress problems with small
windows on the top floors of brownstone buildings. Also was identified were different
heights between the front and rear of the top floors. Access to the roofs can be
challenging due to the cornices that slope toward the roof and high front parapet walls
that may have to be negotiated to get onto the roof from the ladder.
Some of the other problems facing the FDNY with multiple apartment buildings,
are fire spreading through shafts, forcible entry, hand line deployment, limitation of
Develop a Standard 25
ladder operations, egress, exterior obstructions, hazardous materials storage, occupancy,
and structural failure. The FDNY pointed out that one of the most challenging buildings
in the city are the H-type apartment houses. These buildings are heavily occupied, non-
fireproof, exceed 200 feet in depth and width, vary from four to six stories, may contain
nine or more floors, and configurations consist of (H, E, O, U, and triangular).
In Manhattan, New York fire pre-plans point out access roads that are impassable
due to improperly parked cars. Other strategic and tactical challenges were the ability for
ladder trucks to reach certain areas, exposures of similar buildings, and cyclone fences
topped with razor wire. Identifying these barriers will indicate what tools will be needed
to accomplish tasks.
East Naples, Florida Fire Control and Rescue District realized their lack of multi-
family dwelling familiarization created challenges such as:
• Locating fire department connections
• Recognizing sprinkler systems
• Locating standpipes
Multiple apartment buildings in Jersey City, New Jersey could require the first-in
Engine Company to stretch a 200-300 foot hose line to reach the front door. There would
be additional lengths needed to advance a pre-connect hose line. Without fire
suppression systems, including stand pipes, advancing hose lines need to be part of the
fire pre-plans. The fire department also shared that committing apparatuses on the fire
ground, and then realizing they can’t be utilized, creates and significantly delays
achieving their objective. Pre-incident size-up is the key.
Develop a Standard 26
Prince Georges County Fire/EMS Department were confronted with explosions
caused by nearly 30 oxygen cylinders that were stored in a apartment of a multiple
apartment building. Firefighters had no prior knowledge of the stored cylinders. Fire
pre-plans would identify these types of hazards which could result in a deadly outcome.
The Dearborn Fire department senior officers, through their years of experience,
realize their strategic and tactical challenges with multiple apartment buildings and also
understand the need for a fire pre-plan. Familiarization of multiple apartment buildings
prior to an incident is detrimental for strategic and tactical operations. Utilizing a tool
such as fire pre-plan will support the incident for an overall positive outcome. (Appendix
The research conducted for this ARP appears to support the need to develop
multiple apartment building pre-fire plans to reduce the number of strategic and tactical
challenges in the Dearborn Fire Department. The DFD does not utilize a familiarization
process for the multiple apartment buildings in the City of Dearborn. This was supported
by the DFD Deputy Chief and Battalion Chiefs. Based on these findings and the findings
of the research conducted from this ARP, there is a need to develop a standard fire pre-
plan for multiple apartment buildings. By developing a fire pre-plan, the company’s on
the incidents will be able to establish their strategic and tactical plans and deploy their
operations in an efficient and safe manor.
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Occupants of multiple apartment buildings need to be accountable and be
included within a fire pre-plan for accountability. Wayne Township indicated not all
occupants were notified of the need to evacuate or shelter in place during a Hazardous
Material incident. Also in Bristol, Tennessee there were residents who refuse to react
during a fire emergency. Coon Rapids, Minnesota fire crew found it effective to leave an
Apartment Fire Safety brochure during building inspections for the residents. This would
allow the residents to identify any fire hazards within their units and become familiar
with the building and exits. The City of Dearborn also provides a fire escape map for
each apartment and is kept on the inside of each apartment e door. Interacting with the
occupants of multiple apartment buildings is a win-win approach. The Fire Department
points out their concerns and how the occupants play a role in the operations and
accountability during an incident.
Fire Departments need to formalize their multiple apartment building fire pre-
plans and not just momentary familiarization in passing. Bruckner indicated FDNY
operations are greatly enhanced when members are familiar with particular buildings
within their response districts. This is accomplished during building inspections, drills,
emergency responses, and other outdoor activities.
Brown (2004) stated that attention to fire escapes should be noted and
communicated for inside and outside teams during an incident. This vital information
should be part of a fire pre-plan.
Dennehy (2002) found it useful to drive around your district and identify multiple
apartment buildings and how you would operate during an incident. Documenting this
Develop a Standard 28
information and reviewing it repeatedly would increase a positive response with fire
Potteiger (1999) indicated East Naples Fire Control and Rescue District
suppression division agreed to conduct fire pre-plan surveys and concluded the surveys
need to be simple and non-lengthy.
Terpak (2002) shared the following topic which should be considered during a
fire pre-plan: Construction, Occupancy, Apparatus Staffing and Operations, Terrain,
Street Conditions, Exposures, and Area. Fire pre-plans will vary with fire departments
and their resources.
It was also found through the research to identify the different building types and
construction. Flynn (2003) indicated the five types of construction which would directly
relate to the course of action during an incident: noncombustible, fire resistive, ordinary,
heavy timber, and wood frame and lightweight.
Jones (1998) pointed out the key areas of concern for multiple apartment
buildings in Coon Rapids, MN: how many stories, construction, surface material, and
There is further evidence that a multiple apartment building fire pre-plan will
discover other pertinent information to assist fire operations. Brady (2004) found that
kitchen and bathroom air vents must be identified for heat and smoke travel.
Murphy (2004) pointed out in addition, that shafts can create a chimney effect and
support fire spread. This can be identified during a fire-pre-plan or during an incident
with roof operations discovering the shafts and relaying the information to the Incident
Commander. When fire is well advanced upon arrival McKnight (1999) recognized the
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need for rapid activation of additional alarms. This can be included in a fire pre-plan for
Salka (2003) recognized roof operation is critical for search and rescue, and
extinguishment. It is crucial to identify the options for roof access including adjoining
Kouba (1998) shared size-up tips including egress from roof operations and
identify windows for rope-type hose stretches.
Stroup (2006) indicated Fairfax County Fire Department uses a “building survey”.
This can be identified as a formal fire pre-plan and a very useful tool.
There are many strategic and tactical challenges facing fire departments today that
can be identified and included in a fire pre-plan. Brown (2004) pointed out access and
egress problems with small windows. Bruckner (2001) included different apartment
building configurations (H, E, O, U, and triangular). Potteiger (1999) stated lack of
information such as department connections and addresses and recognizing buildings
with sprinkler and standpipes created problem for suppression personnel when
responding to fire related incidents.
Murphy (2004) expressed the necessity of a pre-fire plan and numerous drills at
apartment complexes. He also stated familiarization will point out access to roads and
any obstacles that may be present.
Strategic and tactical challenges occur with lack of multiple apartment building
familiarizations. Terpak (2002) indicated that pre-incident size-up is the key. Building
location can affect the reach of the pre-connect hose lines and ground ladder operations.
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Salka (2003) stated that aerial ladder operations can be hampered by dangerous
slopes and parapet walls. Fire pre-plans would identify these hazards and allow crews to
compensate for the obstacles. Kouba (1998) also added fire departments need to identify
their limitation with the reach of their ladder trucks. Exposures are a concern as well
when there are obstructions to delay strategic and tactical operation like a cyclone fence
topped with razor wire.
A list of recognized problems in New York during multiple apartment building
fires include: rapid extending fire due to vertical and horizontal shafts, force entry into
apartments, the need for multiple hand lines, limitation s to ladder reach, exterior
scaffolding obstructing operation, egress issues for occupants, and with regards to
hazardous materials, acetylene tanks improper storage. Brady (2000) also shared an
unusual challenge in Prince George County when a series of explosions occurred during a
multiple apartment building fire. This was due to an apartment storing nearly 30 oxygen
cylinders. All of these challenges could have been identified during a fire pre-plan before
an incident occued.
Brennan (2004) expressed some ways of handling problems in a multiple
dwelling. Identify escape balconies, roof layout for ventilation, tactical hand line
deployment, tower ladder operations, and interior communications. Fire pre-plans for
strategic and tactical operations need to identify problems if it were under the worse
The Dearborn Fire Department senior officer’s expressed their concerns and need
in establishing a fire pre-plan for multiple apartment buildings and would include the
following points: building address, fire department connections, construction, utilities,
Develop a Standard 31
access and egress, hazardous materials, exposures, stories and dimensions, hydrant
locations, evacuation plan, and accountability.
The research conducted for this ARP supports the need to develop a multiple
apartment building fire pre-plan. This further supports the obligation for the DFD to
utilize a fire pre-plan for multiple apartment buildings for familiarization. This will help
ensure minimizing the risk to the firefighters and occupants during multiple apartment
building fires. In addition, the plan will also support efficiency during strategic and
tactical operation without delays.
The research findings clearly support the need for multiple apartment buildings
fire pre-plans for the Dearborn Fire Department. Developing and implementing standard
fire pre-plans are necessary for improving the safety at incidents. The need to become
aware of the challenges at a multiple apartment building incident is pertinent to
preventing injuries and operating a more efficient fire ground. Conveying the fire pre-
plan survey to fire companies through training will be the groundwork for the members.
Fire departments must have fire pre-plans for the complicated multiple apartment
buildings to support the overall strategic plan. Terpak (2002) indicated pre-incident size-
up is the key to reducing serous delay in achieving objectives.
Murphy (2004) recommended a fire pre-plan and numerous drills at the multiple
apartment buildings. Familiarization will point out challenges for the Incident
Commander and allow the firefighter to develop strategic and tactical advantages prior to
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an incident. If obstacles are overlooked within these buildings and pre-plans are not
completed, challenges and delays of operations will continue and life safety will be
Firefighter’s take risks every day. These risks can be managed and reduced by
familiarization of multiple apartment buildings.
Educating staff of the fire pre-plans is the basis for a clear understanding of the
surveys and the purpose. The majority of the research gathered was statements from
authors after an incident and then they identified their challenges. The proactive
approach will benefit fire operations and support overcoming the strategic and tactical
challenges. The last thing an Incident Commander wants to be concerned with is the lack
of familiarization within a multiple apartment building during a fire. Educating the
firefighters on the Dearborn Fire Department of the multiple apartment buildings in the
City of Dearborn will be the goal. Every apartment building is different and each one has
their own hidden secretes of hazards and challenges. Fire Suppression Company’s
should walk through buildings and utilize the standard survey form as their guideline for
documentation of hazards and challenges.
The research findings support the need to develop standard multiple apartment
building fire pre-plans to reduce the strategic and tactical challenges and to minimize the
life safety risk to the firefighters and residents. Evaluating the potential hazards in
multiple apartment buildings resulted in the development of a standard Fire Pre-plan
Survey form for the Dearborn Fire Department. (Appendix C)
Firefighting is a dangerous profession. All challenges cannot be completely
prevented, but can be reduced. Every year there are injuries and deaths related to fire
Develop a Standard 33
ground deficiencies and lack of building familiarization. These incidents may be used as
learning tools for preventing future injuries and deaths. It is recommended that multiple
apartment building fires are analyzed and the data utilized to support future research.
Continuously modifying the fire pre-plan for each fire district for improvements is
necessary throughout the country.
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Brady, M. (2000). On the Job. Firehouse/July 106-109
Brennan, T. (2004). Fire in a Multiple Dwelling. Fire Engineering, 22-23.
Brown, M. (2004). Operations on the Floor Above Size Up for Safety. With New York
Bruckner, J (2001). H-Type Buildings Revisited. With New York Firefighters, 26-29.
Dennehy, E. (2002). Fire Complications in Old Law Tenements. With New York
Flynn, J. (2003). Primary Roof Operations at Multiple-Dwelling Fires. Fire Engineer
Garino, J. (2003). Evacuation and Shelter Instructions for Residents of Large Apartment
Buildings. www.usfa.fema.gov/efop/tr_03dg.pdf (311.7kb).
Jones, D. (1998). On the Job. Firehouse/May 83-85
Kouba (1998). Manhattan Fifth Alarm. With New York Firefighters 22-24
McKnight, P. (1999). 11 Floors of Fire. With New York Firefighters 2-5
Murphy, M. (2004) Multiple Rescues in Manhattan. With New York Firefighters 2-5
Potteiger, R. (1999). Developing a Pre-incident Survey for the East Naples Fire Control
and Rescue District. www.usfa.fema.gov/pdf/efop/efo29409.pdf (382kb).
Salka, J. (2003) You’ve Got the Roof. With New York Firefighters 10-11
Stroup, E. (2006). Pre-plan. Cheri.Stroup@fairfaxcounty.gov
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Terpak, M. (2002). Fireground Size-up for Garden Apartments and Townhouses. Fire
Whiteaker, G. (1999). The Effect of Preplanning for Fires in Bristol’s Multi-storied
Housing Units on Elderly Residents. www.usfa.fema.gov/pdf/efop/efo29341.pdf
Develop a Standard 36
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Dearborn Fire Department
Multiple Apartment Buildings
Fire Pre-Plan Survey
Address: ___________________________________ Date: _______________________
Bldg. Name: ______________________________________Occupancy #:___________
Emergency Contact: Name, Address, Phone # ________________________________________________
Sprinkler: (Siamese) Location ____________________________________________________________
Standpipe: (Siamese) Location ____________________________________________________________
Hydrant Location - Primary________________________ Secondary _____________________________
Special Hazards _______________________________________________________________________
Utility Shut Off Locations:
Electric ____________________________Gas _______________________Water __________________
Fire Alarm Panel _____________________________________Agent _____________________________
Structural Information of Building
Height and Number of Floors _____________________________________________________________
Construction – Building ______________________________ Roof ______________________________
Window Type _______________________________ Fire Doors ________________________________
No. of Stairways - N __________ S __________ E ___________W ___________ Center______________
Vertical & Horizontal Openings: Elevators, Shafts, etc. ________________________________________
Exposures - N ___________ S ____________ E _____________ W ___________ Center _____________
Best Means of Entry ____________________________________________________________________
Basement Entry Location ________________________________________________________________
Evacuation Plan & Assemble location ______________________________________________________
Signature of Inspection Officer ___________________________________________________________