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Snow danger

State Fire Marshal warns of building collapse danger


State Fire Marshal J. William Degnan said with the recent heavy snow, and with rain and freezing rain in the forecast, there is a greater urgency to clear roofs of snow and ice.

A roof may collapse with little or no warning, and one common misconception is that only flat roofs are susceptible to collapse.

The following are a few of the warning signs that could indicate you have a danger of roof collapse. You should immediately evacuate the building and notify your local building official, fire department, or contact a structural engineer to determine if the building is safe.

· Sagging roof steel — visually deformed

· Severe or new roof leaks

· Cracked or split wood members

· Bends or ripples in metal supports

· Recent cracks in drywall or masonry

· Buckling of interior walls

· Creaking, cracking or popping sounds

Past fire investigations have determined that gas service to some buildings have been damaged due to heavy snow loads and snow sliding off of roofs onto gas meters and components. Also snow sliding off of roofs onto outside oil tanks has caused valves and filters to be broken off.

The State Fire Marshal urges all to clear roofs of excessive snow and ice buildup, being careful not to damage gas and oil service to the building; keep all chimneys and vents clear to prevent carbon monoxide from backing up into the building; and keep all exits clear of snow, so occupants can escape quickly if a fire, or other emergency, should occur.

Specific fire and building safety questions can be answered by local fire and building officials or by contacting the State Fire Marshal’s Office at 223-4289.

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