From the September/October 2011 issue of NFPA Journal®
By Ben Klaene & Russ Sanders
All kinds of buildings, from high-rises to single-family homes, are demolished every day for a variety of reasons. Fire departments must be aware of scheduled demolitions so they can develop contingency plans for fires, entrapments, and other emergencies that could occur while buildings are being razed. The fire department should also visit the site of a demolition before and during the operation.
In addition to problems associated with a particular wrecking operation, firefighters should be aware of problems that may be encountered when a building is intentionally destroyed. Explosives are often used to implode large structures, and the contractor and building owner must work closely with the fire department to ensure safety, not only on the day of the scheduled implosion, but during preparation, especially when explosives are on site. Other hazardous materials may also be encountered at a demolition site, especially if the building was previously inhabited by an industrial occupancy that used chemicals in its manufacturing process. Many abandoned buildings sit vacant for years with chemicals stored inside deteriorating containers.