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Richmond, VA 5-Story Building Fire

001This fire began during building construction, in a trash chute located at the rear of the building. The trash chute was connected to each floor of the building through an opening that allowed trash to be placed in the chute. The building exterior walls were up, and interior walls were framed but had no wallboard in place, and no fire suppression systems were operational at this stage of construction. The building was nearly a total loss.


Exponent examined the role of the construction of the exterior walls of the building on the spread of the fire. It was alleged that had the exterior walls been constructed of non-combustible materials, the fire would not have spread quickly and could have been contained. Exponent prepared a sophisticated computer model of the building performance during a fire in the chute, and showed that the fire spread into the unprotected wood framing and trusswork of the interior from the trash chute very quickly, regardless of the exterior wall construction. Our model also provided information on thermal exposure to surrounding buildings. We provided testimony in deposition regarding our work.