!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01901ed29a59970b-120wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01901ed29a59970b-120wi|alt=Billy Greenwood|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Billy Greenwood|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01901ed29a59970b!In a[ Fire Engineering blog | http://community.fireengineering.com/profiles/blog/show?xg_source=activity&id=1219672%3ABlogPost%3A583832], Lt. Billy Greenwood issues a hazard alert involving lightweight stairs construction in unfinished basements. This danger represents one more reason to include fire sprinklers in new homes that are built with lightweight construction materials, for the protection of occupants and firefighters.
Lt. Greenwood explains; ‘Not like fighting a basement fire wasn't dangerous to begin with, but now us brother and sister firefighters need to worry about the structural integrity of what contractors and/or engineers feel are adequate materials for "lightweight stairs"’.
!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef019104c884e5970c-450wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef019104c884e5970c-450wi|alt=LightweightStairs|style=width: 450px;|title=LightweightStairs|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef019104c884e5970c!
According to the lieutenant with the new lightweight stair assembly, instead of using traditional 2x12 stair stringer, this new lightweight constructed staircase is made with a 2x4 running the entire length of the staircase (on the side) where the standard stringer would normally be. This lightweight system is held together by glue and nails.
Although in a main staircase (1st to 2nd floor) the underside of the stairs would be covered with drywall for added fire protection, for an unfinished basement installation, the stairs would be unprotected as reported. This represents a great danger to firefighters and should serve as a reminder that fire sprinklers in homes, including unfinished basements would abate this hazard.