Why would you cut on the non-fire side of a fire wall?

Was this really necessary? Why would you cut a roof that does not have active fire underneath it?

Making a trench cut on the opposite side of a FIRE WALL.Why would you do this?

When you have a large amount of fire in an open attic space that you most likely will not be able to extinguish and the building is separated by some type of fire wall. Be pro-active and make a cut on the non-fire side. In the top photo we had three-story hotel with 48 rooms on fire. The fire wall was 40 years old. The decision was made to cut on the non-fire side. This also allowed us to complete the cut in reasonable safe conditions. While making the cut we observed fire penetrating numerous breaches and the heat was so intense that you could not have your face over the vent hole with-out a mask on.

In the second photo, a some what of a trench cut was made to release serious heat build up from the two-story townhouse that was fully involved on-arrival. The fire never breached the fire wall. The heat did however conduct through the fire wall and was visible after the cuts were made. The trusses were not damaged during the cutting and resulting in the owner being able to rapidly fix and allow the exposure townhouse to be reoccupied within a week. Still a couple of years later this entire block of row houses/townhouses were demolished due to extensive drug activity.

So in the end, be open to non-traditional tactics that may be pro-active and not understood by all. I would rather a hole in the roof of my apartment that can be easily fixed, than heavy smoke conditions and/or fire extension from serious heat build up that was not released.  Trusses require us to sometimes complete pre-mature vertical ventilation based on the likely hood of the future fire growth.

5 thoughts on “Why would you cut on the non-fire side of a fire wall?

  1. Two things, to let out the built up heat and gasses, to prevent it from becoming fully charged and lighting off. Or if you think the fire is going there anyways, get it cut while it is safe.

  2. Agreed. Again it takes a strong command & OIC awareness to make such an aggresive vent decision!

  3. attic spaces holding heat are as much of a threat as free burning fire if not more of a threat…why…high heat or “black fire” is constantly heating the gusset plates to their point of failure…attic spaces or voids with drop ceilings below could pressurize and blow down on FF’s working below conducting an investigation of smoke or a quick search or whatever…if you open up and nothing is found great…at least you were pro-active in protecting life and property…stay low, look high

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