Wednesday, October 1, 2014

NY State Enacts New Truss Construction Law

New York State is now requiring home builders and remodelers to note on construction permits, if they plan to use truss construction in their projects.

The 'new' way of building trusses is less expensive, and safe---unless there's a fire.  The heat and flames can weaken the metal gusset plates that hold the wood braces together, making a failure (and collapse) more likely.

This form of construction was involved in a floor collapse 12 years ago in Pompey, that killed two firefighters who were in a burning home on Sweet Road.

"When the truss fails, it all falls down," FASNY (Fireman's Association of the State of NY) member Robert Leonard tells us.  "The challenge for the fire departments is to know the trusses are in the building, and to change our operation a little bit."

Scott McClurg, a home builder/remodeler and former Syracuse firefighter, tells us that use of the trusses, including in his own Marcellus work areas, is financially driven.   Contractors are constantly battling costs, he says, and this along with a modified beam that uses less lumber, help keep the costs down.

Homebuilders are supportive of the new law, which requires notification of the truss construction on building permits. That information is to be passed on to fire departments, and the builders say they will also put special warning stickers on electrical boxes outside new homes, to also give arriving firefighters a warning of what's inside.

That warning could help them calculate how safe the inside of a burning structure is, and get them out safely before it collapses and traps them.

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