( 1) A view from the northwest corner shows the massive
flames and the Quorum high-rise in the background.
(Photos by Mike Legeros.) ( 2) Harrington Street, about 200
feet from Jones Street, with the Quorum just behind Squad
7. This is approximately 100 yards south of the initial
command post. ( 3) A view from Jones Street looking up at
the Quorum the day after the fire. Glass from the high-rise
had to be removed before the street was opened.
Lessons Learned from the Raleigh
(NC) Metropolitan Apartment Fire
BY STEPHEN J. CORKER
ON THURSDAY, MARCH 16, 2017, THE Raleigh (NC) Fire Department responded to one of the largest
fires in its 105-year history as a career
fire department. The Metropolitan—a
five-story; block-long and half-block-wide; wood-frame; 274,000-square-foot
apartment building still under construction—was burning. It took three hours
and 32 fire companies (130 firefighters) to
get the fire under control. Several other
buildings were damaged by flames, heat,
and flying embers.
Designed as a beautiful addition to
the Glenwood South area of downtown
The stairwell, parking deck, and metal
construction machinery were the only non-
combustible materials in the complex.
Wood-frame buildings of lightweight
construction have become popular in
Raleigh and have sparked much discus-
sion in our fire stations. Most fire-
fighters had discussed “when it would
Before my current assignment with
the Training Division, I had been as-
signed to the ladder company for this
area. We discussed the possibility of a
conflagration in these immense wooden
structures that were popping up, notably
while they were under construction and
without fire protection. As we watched
these buildings rise from concept to
reality, the challenges of water supply,
and accessibility be-
came very apparent.
The chain-link fences
parked machinery to
deter thieves and un-
wanted guests made
it difficult for access
and advancing hose
into the construction
area and the building.
Even the construction equipment was
a concern. How would we extricate a
trapped victim from machinery, for example, or remove a cardiac patient from
a multistory tower crane?
Tower Crane Challenges
One specific scenario we evaluated
was the possibility of a tower crane