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Interstate Bank Building Fire;

FALLING GLASS

Falling glass and other debris created a major problem during this incident. Virtually all of the exterior curtain wall, from the 12th through 16th floors, was destroyed and fell to the ground. The falling glass and debris caused significant damage to pumpers hooked-up to the Fire Department connections. The hose lines were cut several times and had to be replaced, under the constant danger of additional falling materials. The entire perimeter of the building, for over 100 feet out from the walls, was littered with this debris.

Fortunately, a tunnel between the building and the parking garage across the street provided a safe path into the building at the basement level for both personnel and equipment. Without this tunnel it would have been very difficult to maintain the necessary logistical supply system and to avoid injuries to personnel from the falling debris.

The windows were coated with a plastic reflective material which caused them to hold together as they fell. The glass fell in very large sections, some of which were flaming due to ignition of the plastic coating.

The Incident Commander gave blanket approval for crews to break windows to provide ventilation, since glass and debris were already falling on all four sides of the building. Firefighters reported difficulty in breaking the thick windows, and the coating on the windows may also have been a factor in this regard. A pick-head axe was found to be the most effective tool for the job. (A Police sharpshooter offered to shoot windows out from a helicopter, but the offer was declined.)

Return to Interstate Bank Fire Main Page

 
 
 
   
 
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