The MFD Fire Training Division recently completed commercial roof operations training at Westgate Mall through our acquired structure program. All ladder companies in the city attended this training.

Ladder 6 and Ladder 2 outside Westgate Mall

In six days, over 50 ventilation holes were cut with over 100 of our members taking part in the training.

Ventilation holes in the Westgate Mall roof
firefighters cut into the roof of Westgate Mall

Commercial buildings present a unique challenge to firefighting operations and ventilation tactics. Multiple layers of insulation and roofing materials must be removed to expose the roof. Crews can then identify where they need to cut the hole to avoid hitting any joists and perform the ventilation quickly. This operation requires multiple saws and crew members and is a labor-intensive assignment.

multiple firefighters peel away corrugated metal

Vertical ventilation allows the fire attack and search & rescue companies below to perform their tasks faster by removing heat, smoke, and steam. There is a high level of coordination between the roof team and those operating below to open the hole at the right time and to avoid any unsafe practices.

search and rescue crew inside the mall
Fire attack crew inside the mall

This particular roof had a rubber membrane, two layers of insulation, and corrugated metal decking to cut through. 

firefighters peel back corrugated metal on rooftop

This blog was authored by Firefighter/Paramedic & Fire Training Officer Paul Schecklman.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Fire and a link back to the original post.