Construction Instruction

Edd Knight, the CEO of E.A. Knight Construction, in Carterville, Ill. conducted a seminar for firefighters about changes in residential building practices and materials and how materials react during a fire. For example, it’s important for firefighters to know that I-joists burn faster than traditional solid wood joists and “quickly lose their strength,” Knight says. “The department had a firefighter fall through a floor into a basement — a tragedy they are trying to avoid.”

In the seminar, Knight also talked about the structural differences between truss-framed roofs versus roofs framed on site, and roofs covered with ½-inch OSB sheathing. “The ½-inch OSB won’t hold up as well once it gets to a combustible state,” he explains. The information came from a combination of his industry experience and product manufacturer information.

E.A. Knight Construction has been in business building new homes and doing remodeling for 34 years and is well-known in the area in which it works. The Lake of Egypt Fire Protection District asked if Knight would teach the seminar, and about 20 professional and volunteer firefighters attended. He donated his time for this one-time seminar.

Serving a Purpose Before Teardown

Monmouth Custom Builders, in Deal, N.J., was working with a client who had a property where the existing home had to be demolished to make room for a new custom home. The company approached the fire department of Ocean Township, where the project is located, to offer the house for training for volunteer firefighters. “These people are taking care of us — we were happy to give back,” says office manager Ida Levy.

The client allowed the house to be donated, and the Monmouth crew fenced in the area, as the building department requires for new construction or major renovations. During the evening training session, the fire department closed the block, brought in stadium lighting, and had ambulances on stand-by. The fire department didn’t set a real fire in the house. Instead, it placed smoke bombs throughout the home, and sent in volunteer firefighters to rescue full-weight dummies. The volunteers used pickaxes to vent the roof and broke a few windows during the training session. The next day, Monmouth brought in large machinery to demolish the structure.

The company works on many second homes in the New Jersey Shore area, doing remodeling work, but also building two to four new houses per year. Some of these projects are on properties that have 50-year-old houses, which are outdated and where the expense to remodel outweighs the cost of building new. “We tend to tear them down in the spring or fall and have them ready for the following summer,” Levy says. This is the second time that Monmouth Custom Builders has offered a tear-down building to the fire department for training. The first time, the city of Deal’s fire department approached the company; this time it was Monmouth that reached out. —Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.