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February 1, 2011

City issues alert for overloaded roofs

Advice offered to prevent roof collapse

Newburyport — The city's building department has issued the following emergency alert regarding snow loads on roofs.

With the previous snow accumulations and the forecast of more snow (Approximately

two feet) for Tuesday, Wednesday and more forecast later this week, the load (weight) on

roofs may increase to a dangerous level. Buildings with flat roofs are especially

vulnerable to collapse under these conditions.

The danger of roof overload is increased significantly where a flat roof abuts a pitched

roof of higher elevation. Snow may slide off the pitched roof onto the lower flat roof,

significantly increasing the snow load on the lower roof. Should a moderate to heavy

rainfall occur before significant melting, the danger of roof overload or collapse increases

dramatically.

To guard against problems, the Newburyport Building Department recommends the

following precautions:

· Inspect flat roof surfaces and remove as much snow as possible being careful not

to damage roof covering (especially important with rubber membrane roof

coverings)

· Clear drains from flat roof to allow water to run off.

· Check inside buildings for any indication of roof weakness, i.e. settling of

ceilings, broken structural elements, leaks, etc.

· If you even suspect a problem, contact the Building Department or Fire

Department for assistance. Building Department Tel. # (978) 4654405,

Fire

Department Tel. # (978) 4654427...

In the event you or the Building Commissioner/Fire Department has doubts about roof

integrity, evacuate the area until the situation can be analyzed.

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