It's important to watch this form of construction under fire conditions and/or overhaul stages.

The Problems with this form of construction:
#1 Components can fail suddenly and catastrophically (without WARNING).
#2 Wall Board (sheetrock) may be attached to metal runners with sheet metal screws.
#3 Foam/Insulation core may be glued to wall board and when saturated with water may fail.
#4 This type of construction can hide hot ambers/heat causing firefighters to pull boarding apart.
#5 Extreme Caution should be used with this type of construction especialy if high up.

We recently had a fire at a Toyota dealership were the outside wallboard broke free and fell from a height of about 8 feet. No one was underneath or in the area when this board fell to the ground.

I returned to the fire scene a few days later to look at how this was put up and to understand how it could had fail.

First lets explain the construction invloved here:
* Dry wall attached to metal runners with sheet metal screws.
* Over dry wall was a form of "Insulation Board" about 1.5" thick (glued into place).
* The insulation board was covered with a screen mesh and then covered with "stucco". The board section was approximately 10ft by 6ft not sure how much this section weighted, but it would have been enough to hurt someone if under it when it fell.

It's important to note: that firefighters were working around this area from above at the roof level, so this section was probably already weak and it just took some time to fall. In either case keep an open eye for what is going on and were crews are operating and what they are doing to the construction of the building. It was reported that there was a high amount of water flow in this area.

Toyota-1 Logo Toyota-2 Logo
Arrows show some of the attachment points, which were approx. 1ft-2ft apart. 2nd photo is of fallen section on the ground, note metal runner impression. The board underneath the first arrow is sheetrock still attached with visible glue line.

Next time we will discuss the dangers of void spaces.

This page is dedicated to firefighter safety, STAY SAFE OUT THERE!