lightweight truss construction

The purpose of this paper is to discuss issues concerning the use of lightweight truss construction.  The use of this construction has increased greatly in recent years.  There are many benefits to using lightweight truss constructions.  However, there are also dangers, which will be presented.

The main benefit of using lightweight truss wood construction is that it offers builders the opportunity to save lots of money (Pindelski, 2006).  Construction companies are in the business of making money, and therefore many of them prefer to use this new, cheaper construction.  This allows the builders to secure more contracts because they are able to offer lower prices.  Another benefit of using lightweight truss construction is that it makes it easier to install and run utilities and ventilation systems, it is also easy to assemble.  Moreover, this new construction is as strong as traditional structures under normal conditions (Pindelski, 2006).

It is clear that there are indeed benefits to using lightweight truss construction, however, as with all types of construction, safety is a major concern.  Research has demonstrated that lightweight truss construction does measure up to desired safety standards.  For example, “Fire statistics suggest that there is an urgent need for improved performance of light-weight truss construction in fire scenarios,” (Ziemba, 2006, p.2).

This creates a serious danger for firefighters and people who occupy buildings, which have caught on fire.  “Buildings that contain lightweight wood truss construction are susceptible to collapse from fire exposure in a very short amount of time,” (Pindelski, 2006).  This sentiment is further supported in the article Lightweight Truss May Cause Firefighter Death.  “Without training and building codes that specifically address the fire hazards and threats caused by lightweight truss construction, many civilian and firefighter lives may be lost due to early structural collapse during fire situations,” (Lightweight Truss May Cause Firefighter Death, 2005).

Construction companies and builders are now left to decide if the benefits of using lightweight truss construction are worth the risks to human lives.  Firefighter argue that this construction is simply too dangerous, and has cause death for many firefighters.  Unfortunately, many builders to not agree and they assert that firefighters are simply misinformed and exaggerating the dangers of these construction materials.  This debate is likely to continue for years to come.  But there is no doubt that most people agree that saving lives is more important than saving money.  Using lightweight truss constructions is an unsafe practice and it is not worth the risk to human lives or safety.

References

Lightweight Truss May Cause Firefighter Death (2005).  Retrieved May 8, 2007, from

http://singularity.pilsch.com/Squad514CasualArgument

Pindelski, J. (2006).  Understanding the Dangers of Lightweight Truss Construction.  Retrieved May 8, 2007, from

http://cms.firehouse.com/content/article/article.jsp?id=46749&sectionld=14

Ziemba, G. (2006).  Theoretical Analysis of Light-Weight Truss Construction in Fire Conditions, Including the Use of Fire Retardant Treated Wood.  Retrieved May 8, 2007, from

     http://www.wpi.edu/Pubs/ETD/Available/etd-050506-114556/unrestricted/Gziemba.pdf