BFD Commissioner Joseph Finn said this morning that a key part of the investigation into the multi-alarm fire that heavily damaged a residential building nearing completion is whether the sprinkler system failed or wasn't turned on.
The lack of water in the first few minutes of the fire was "a major contributing factor" to its spread, Finn said at a press conference outside the Treadmark Building, 1971-1977 Dorchester Ave., where firefighters this morning are continuing to look for "hot spots" that could flare up.
Finn said the roof began buckling within nine minutes of firefighters arriving at 2:30 p.m. and that they were ordered off the roof. The fire burned throughout the night and into today.
City inspectors had been scheduled to tour the building today to ensure all the "life safety" systems, including sprinklers, were operating properly, Finn and ISD Commissioner William Finn said.
The "void" space between the roof, where the fire apparently started, and the top floor, had sprinklers installed in it that could have reduced the fire impact, had they operated, Finn said.
He said he is hopeful that Dot Ave. can be reopened to traffic by the evening rush hour.
Finn said the building's type of construction - several stories of wood framing above a concrete "podium" - is "relatively safe," and that it is very safe once all the safety systems are turned on. In addition to the sprinkler system, the use of thicker wooden structures than in single-family homes aids in their ability to fend off fires, he said.
Finn continued that the fire grew more complicated to fight when the roof collapsed, sending heavy mechanical equipment to the floor below, making it harder for streams of water to get onto the flames. The department eventually showered the top of the building with foam, which he said proved excellent at dampening the fire.
Mayor Marty Walsh said that the city is setting up an office to help people - some coming from out of state - who had been planning to move into one of the 83 condos and apartments in the building starting next month.
Finn said the building today did not appear in any danger of collapse. He and Christopher said that it will be up to the developer, Trinity Financial, to determine whether it can rebuild the existing structure or will have to tear it down and start again after building inspectors can get in for a more detailed look.
Note: The press conference was livestreamed by WHDH, where we watched it.