Rhino Steel Buildings Blog

The Great Chicago Fire Led to Steel Buildings

October 6, 2015 How Chicago Rose from the Ashes to Build a Stronger, Safer City

Today steel buildings and skyscrapers define the silhouettes of great cities. In the 1870s, no one even dreamed of massive, multi-story monoliths soaring toward the clouds— until the Great Chicago Fire changed commercial construction practices forever.

National Fire Protection WeekThe Chicago Conflagration

On Sunday, October 8, 1871, a fire began in or near the barn owned by Patrick and Catherine O’Leary. Contrary to popular myths about the O’Leary’s cow kicking over a lantern, no one knows the actual cause of the fire.

In 1893, Michael Ahern, the reporter who originated the legend of the O’ Leary’s cow, admitted he fabricated the tale. However, it was not until 1997 that the Chicago City Council voted to exonerated the O’Leary’s and their famous bovine from triggering the conflagration. Sometimes the wheels of justice do grind slowly.

Whatever the initial cause of the Great Chicago Fire, the results were shattering.

Conditions converged to create the perfect firestorm:

  • A 14-week drought with unusually hot temperatures left everything dry and ripe for a fire.
  • Most of Chicago consisted of wood-framed structures. Lumber was plentiful and cheap. Sidewalks and even streets were made of wood. Zoning was non-existent. Factories, lumber mills, stores, and houses crowded together in the same blocks.
  • The fire department was woefully inadequate for the task. Chicago’s population neared 300,000, yet only 216 firefighters served the city. Three of their 17 horse-drawn fire engines were unavailable during the Great Fire. To make matters worse, miscommunications resulted in a deadly delay getting firefighters to the real source of the fire.
  • A strong wind from the southwest drove embers deep into the city. The conflagration burned so hot it created fire whirls— tornado-like vortexes scattering sparks and burning debris high into the … Read more »

Every Second Counts in a Building Fire

October 2, 2015 Facing the Facts About Building Fires in the U.S.

Every day building fires kill, maim, and destroy.Every Second in a Fire According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), every day in the U.S. there is an average of:

• 1,353 structural fires • 43 people injured in building fires • 9 fatalities in structural fires • $26.8 million dollars in structural property losses caused by fires

Underestimating the Danger of Building Fires

Too many people blindly assume they will never be caught in a building fire. However, the evidence leaves no room for debate:

  • Roughly, one in every 320 households reports a house fire every year.
  • 60% of residential fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms.
  • Surveys show only 33% of Americans have produced and practiced a family fire escape route.
  • 55% of those injured in home cooking-related fires were hurt while trying to extinguish the blaze themselves.
  • 32% of those surveyed believed they would have at least 6 minutes to escape before a home fire became life threatening. The time available is often far less.
  • Only 8% of those surveyed said exiting would be their first thought when the smoke alarms sounded!

Why Steel Buildings are Safer Buildings

Once started, a building fire can spread with shocking speed, swiftly cutting off avenues of escape.

Fire Countdown InfographicStatistically, the third most likely place for a house fire to start is in the framing. Wood framing provides the perfect fuel for fire ignition. Wood burns easily, feeding and spreading the fire after it starts.

Steel does not ignite. Fire-resistant steel does not contribute fuel to spread a fire. Consequently, steel building fires spread much slower, increasing the chances for escape.

All … Read more »

Structural Fires Devour Property and Ravage Lives

September 29, 2015 Facing the Heartbreaking Facts about Building Fires in the U.S.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), structural fires accounted for 38% of all the 1,298,000 reported fires in the United States in 2014. Structural fires disrupt and devastate, stealing livelihoods, possessions, and sometimes lives.

Home Fires

Fire FactsResidential fires account for 72% of all building fires, yet home fires cause 92% of all fire causalities.

Not surprisingly, the number one spot in the home for fire ignition is the kitchen. NFPA research finds that 43% of home fires start in the kitchen. Unattended cooking sparked 33% of those kitchen-based fires.

Cooking equipment ranks top-of-the-list for causing the most home fire injuries.

Smoking causes the greatest number of home fire deaths. Falling asleep while smoking factored into roughly 33% of smoking-related fires. Alcohol impairment is suspected in 19% of home fire deaths.

Heating equipment, electrical appliances, faulty electrical wiring, lightning, fireworks, and carelessness with candles are also other common sources of house fires.

While only 20% of house fires happen between 11p.m. and 7 a.m., 51% of home fire fatalities fall within this timeline, while people are normally asleep.

Three out of five residential fire deaths occur in homes without functioning smoke alarms. Tragic fire deaths might have been avoided by simply keeping charged batteries in smoke alarms.

Non-Residential Fires

The NFPA estimates 137,000 fires last year occurred in non-residential buildings.

Statistical studies conducted by the insurance industry find fire to be the second largest cause of business insurance claims.

Businesses carrying insufficient insurance often fail to recover from a fire incident. That’s why the Small Business Association (SBA) recommends business owners contact an insurance professional to help determine the replacement value rather than the cash value of the property.

Home-based business, … Read more »

Metal Buildings Save Money on Operating Costs

September 25, 2015 The Lifecycle Advantages of Pre-engineered Steel Structures

Metal buildings save money on purchasing and construction. However, the greatest savings happen over the lifetime of the structure.

Saving Money with Steel Buildings- Part 3Smart investors look not only at the initial costs of building, but also at the lifecycle costs. This cradle-to-the-grave philosophy counts the cost over the years of using the structure.

Buying a cheap, inferior structure does not save in the long run if it costs too much to operate and maintain.

Looking Beyond the Cost of Construction

Well-crafted pre-engineered metal buildings save money on every phase of the building’s lifetime:

EXTENDED LIFETIME: A structure built with poor quality materials that do not last is no bargain. The longer a building lasts, the less the economic and environmental impact. Steel buildings last decades longer than other types of structures— and retain their sharp looks and re-sale value longer, too.

MAINTENANCE: Structures that need constant repairs and repainting create a drain on budgets. Metal buildings save money by being practically maintenance free.

WEATHER RESISTANT: Well-constructed steel buildings offer built-in weather resistance. First-class steel building companies include value-added features that eliminate leaking, corrosion, condensation, and other weather-related problems.

INORGANIC: Organic wood rots, warps, sags, and twists as its moisture level changes. Wood-framed structures start to creak over time. Rafters sag. Windows and doors stick as the framing shifts. Inorganic steel is impervious to changing humidity levels. Steel components start out straight and true— and remain that way for the lifetime of the structure.

TIGHTER ENVELOPE: Steel structures create a tighter building envelope than other … Read more »

7 Ways Steel Buildings Save Money on Construction

September 21, 2015 How Pre-engineered Metal Structures Cut Building Costs

Well-made steel buildings save money when you buy, as you build, and as you occupy them.

Saving Money with Steel Buildings- Part 2Let’s look at the ways to save money during the construction of a pre-engineered metal building.

Time Is Money in Construction

The longer it takes to finish the building, the more the project costs.

Pre-engineered steel buildings save money by significantly speeding up construction.

1. PREFABRICATION: All the framing components for steel buildings come ready to assemble. Every piece is cut to the correct length, welded into shape, drilled where needed, and sealed with corrosive-resistant paint. Framers do not waste time culling, measuring, cutting, drilling, or welding.

2. FEWER PIECES: Steel’s strength creates a strong, durable structure with surprisingly few pieces. Less pieces equals faster construction.

3. EASY ASSEMBLY: Premium steel building companies take every measure to insure hassle-free building erection. The factory clearly marks every component for fast identification. Plans indicating the correct placement of each pre-labeled framing piece simplify the process. A pre-engineered steel building really is like a life-sized erector set for grownups.

4. LOWER LABOR COSTS: Steel buildings save money on labor, too. The quicker a building goes up, the less money spent on labor. Individuals often decide to erect their own small-to-medium steel buildings for even greater savings. They enlisting the help of a few friends. It’s like an old-fashioned barn raising.

5. BUILDER’S RISK INSURANCE: The faster a building is completed, the less is spent on construction insurance.

6. CONCRETE: Steel buildings save money on concrete, too. Because steel’s unmatched strength-to-weight ratio actually makes the total framing … Read more »