Engineered Lumber ID Program: Enhancing Firefighter Safety, One Step at a Time

The City of Greencastle, Indiana and the Greencastle Fire Department recently enacted and approved an Engineered Lumber ID Program consisting of a sticker that is used for quick recognization of potential Collapse Dangers associated with Engineered Lumber constructed buildings. The sticker is placed on every electrical meter of all residential & commercial buildings with Engineered Lumber construction built after May 13th 2008.

The news release states that; the use of this type of lumber in building construction presents a great danger to firefighting personnel when those structures are involved in fire conditions. By design, the Engineered Lumber in floor and roof assemblies will collapse, without warning, after being exposed to heat or flame contact for a very short period of time.
Because of the inherent danger firefighters must face while operating within these buildings, an Engineered Lumber Identification Program (ELIP) has been instituted to alert personnel of the danger prior to beginning fire suppression operations.

The Engineered Lumber Identification Program is intended to alert the members of the Greencastle Fire Department with pertinent pre-plan information before firefighting forces are committed to an interior attack. The sticker is unobtrusive and is placed directly on a meter box, for example, and alerts the FD if either the floor joists and/or the trusses are made of and Engineered Lumber System and materials. The fire officers are already checking the utility boxes on all fires as part of their initial size-up. The ELIP shall be an ongoing program applied to all residential & commercial buildings inspected by the Greencastle Fire Department.


WHEREAS, many new building structures currently use engineered lumber in their construction;
WHEREAS, some types of engineered lumber burn at a rate faster that other types of lumber; and
WHEREAS, in fighting fires, it would be helpful to know the types of materials used in the construction of a structure.

NOW THEREFORE be it ordained by the Common Council of the City of Greencastle as follows:
1. Definitions:
a. Engineered Lumber shall mean prefabricated I-joists, truss joists, and truss rafters, and laminated beams and studs.
b. Structure shall mean primary, secondary and accessory structures as defined in the Greencastle Zoning Code that have electrical meters that serve the structure.
2. All structures constructed with engineered lumber after the effective date of this ordinance must have a reflective symbol affixed to each electrical meter serving the structure.
3. The reflective symbol shall be in the form of a sticker, issued by the City of Greencastle that states that the structure is constructed with engineered lumber
4. Any person violating this ordinance by refusing to use the reflective symbol or by removing the reflective symbol shall be subject to a fine in an amount of $25.00 per violation. Each day that a violation occurs shall constitute a separate violation, subject to a separate fine.
5. The owner of any structure that was constructed with engineered lumber prior to the effective date of this ordinance is requested to place the reflective symbol on the electrical meter serving the structure on a voluntary basis.

This is another great example how local level insights, actions and legislation can go a long way in supporting fire service operational challanges as they relate to building construction systems, methodologies and materials. Remember, We can certainly work diligently AND cooperativley with local government officials to enhance incident operations and make our jobs safety, one step at a time….

For additional information on the Fire Department’s efforts in Greencastle, IN contact Lt. John Shafer, Lieutenant/Training Officer HERE.

For additonal information on other efforts that have been instituted nationally in other jurisdictions, check out a previous posting of mine on Truss Systems Placards For Firefighter Safety from Across the United States, HERE. It will provide you with a number of examples and links of different placarding and signage systems across the United States.

An invaluable free on-line training program on Structural Stability of Engineered Lumber in Fire Conditions – is available from UL, check HERE for further information.

The 2006 NIOSH LODD Report HERE
Video On the New Program

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