By PAUL GATELY, Standard-Times correspondent
ACUSHNET — Fire Chief Kevin Gallagher
proposes a bylaw that would ultimately afford his firefighters
increased protection when they are called to battle flames in
commercial/industrial buildings of truss construction.
is designed for firefighter safety," Chief Gallagher told the
selectmen. "Danger lurks in many aspects of truss construction, as
opposed to rafters in floors and ceilings, in which the parts are
pre-engineered prior to construction."
The chief said fabricated trusses are reliable, affordable,
pre-engineered and a way to keep commercial construction costs in
check. The problem comes during a fire. It does not take much for a
single truss to burn through or fail. And that, he added, means the
entire system collapses. "What happens?" he said. "They can fail
early and without warning."
The proposed bylaw would require commercial/industrial facilities
with trusses to place an emblem on the building's exterior to warn
firefighters. The emblem would include a red circle and an 11 above
the letters FR.
"You can never tell who's going to be in charge at a fire," Chief
Gallagher said. "We need more tools to make sound strategic
decisions and for greater firefighter safety. There would be no cost
to the town or building owner."
Chief Gallagher said funds from fire-code citations would be used to
buy emblems. He said warnings would not extend to residential
properties, although that might evolve through a public education
campaign and voluntary participation.
The chief said a similar law took effect in New York in 2005. He
said it is law in parts of New Jersey and in Chesapeake, Va. The
selectmen embraced the idea.
"It's a no-brainer," selectmen Chairman Robert F. Brown said. "I'm
glad it doesn't have a cost. It's a good idea. I can't see many
buildings being constructed without trusses." The selectmen sent
the proposal to the Bylaw Review Committee to prepare it for the
April Town Meeting warrant.
Chief Gallagher said firefighters will go door-to-door and work with
Building Inspector John Roza, who helped write the bylaw, to explain
the proposal and try to interest homeowners in it.
Mr. Brown, the former building commissioner, said trusses are used
in bigger, more open buildings. He said that if one truss fails
during a fire, the entire support system fails.
Back to Top