Thursday, July 27, 2017

Chief Says Wood Frame Construction Made Waltham, MA Fire Difficult To Fight

Massachusetts Code Officials will probably be asked to review Apartment Building Codes after a series of huge fires have destroyed two apartment projects under construction.

fire 1.jpg

I haven’t heard if either of the complexes were modular but if it turns out that one was and the other wasn’t, guess which one will be put under the MA Building Code Commission microscope?


Even if neither was built off-site, our industry will be scrutinized while the site-built apartment builders will not. It’s Massachusetts, where modular is found guilty with no evidence or trial.

Our industry was blamed for a fire that destroyed a home a few years but in fact was accidentally burned down by the homeowner resulting in new building procedures imposed on modular while site builders were exempt. MA is one of the hardest states for both modular factories and builders to work in.

Then about a week ago a crane that was setting a modular home overturned and destroyed the home. This was a freak accident that could happen could have happened anywhere in the US but it happened in MA. Look for tough new regulations coming soon to make sure this ‘one in a million’ occurrence never happens again. You can bet MA will add new regulations for cranes setting modular homes which could add more dollars to every new modular home buyer.

Now we have 2 huge apartment complexes in MA burn to the ground while under construction and the Fire Chiefs involved with each are blaming the wooden construction methods for the spread and complete burndown.

Why do these things always have to happen in MA?

Here is the CBSBoston report:

Chief Says Wood Frame Construction Made Waltham Fire Difficult To Fight

WALTHAM (CBS) — Authorities said the flames that destroyed a Waltham apartment complex over the weekend were able to tear through the building so quickly because of its wood-frame construction.

Five buildings were reduced to charred debris in the fire, which began around 4 a.m. Sunday. The complex off Elm Street was still under construction, so nobody was inside at the time.

It took crews from over a dozen different communities nearly four hours just to get the stubborn flames under control.

Waltham Fire Chief Paul Ciccone said the complex was in line with all building codes–but said this was a case where the wood-frame construction didn’t do firefighters any favors.

“There’s not a lot we can do about it, but wood is always very disconcerting to us because wood burns,” he said. “When you have a complex of this size, which is primarily wood frame, wood stick construction, it’s a big concern. And when it’s in a spot like this, it’s very congested, it’s very hard to access. We see these go up, we keep an eye on them.”

CLICK HERE to read the entire CBSBoston report


Tom Hardiman said...

I think the industry has a much better relationship with the State and BBRS than we have had in a while. There was certainly one (rogue) BBRS board member who is about as anti modular as it gets. I think most of the other members know this and factor that into their decision making process.

Hey I know its your blog, but you are telling a story that doesn't exist. Its coming across as paranoid and defensive (you know I mean this in a loving and respectful way!).

If your readers have an issue in MA, or there is a proposed regulation that targets only modular builders, we will challenge it. Aside from agreeing to mechanical fasteners in ceiling assemblies five years ago, there hasn't been a "modular-only" regulation or code change passed that I'm aware of. Maybe someone will call me out on that one.

Coach said...

Sorry for the Chicken Little message. It took quite a while for the "fire" to die down in MA and with the crane incident and now two big "wooden" structure fires both in MA, I think as an industry we have to keep a watchful eye that these don't turn into even a minor problem.

Nobody loves modular more than you and I.

Bill Hart said...

Might have helped the mod PR image at least some.. if fire retardant pressure treated materials had been used? Or were they? Doubt it!

Anonymous said...

Hey Chief....

Back to the caves....