Weitz Project Engineer applies technology, helps keep others safe

Cory Rice Photo

Cory Rice, Weitz Project Engineer

It’s not uncommon for employees of The Weitz Company to give back to the communities where we live and work. However, sometimes an opportunity presents itself that’s a little more unique.

The Phoenix Fire Department recently approached The Weitz Company’s Phoenix, Arizona office to help document a house fire. The unconventional way the house was built caused the fire to spread through an unpredictable manner, resulting in a fire fighter being badly burned.

Weitz Project Engineer Cory Rice met with Deputy Chief Elby Bushong III and shared what was possible using the 3D modeling software Sketch Up. The intention was to send the finished model to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for fire analysis to identify what factors led to the unique spread of the fire.

Rice built the 3D model at the site of the fire by carrying a laptop, measuring walls as he went. He included all doors, windows and the thickness of the walls in his notes.

“Because the kitchen was the point where the fire started, we put in all of the cabinets to show what fuel the fire had,” notes Rice. “We also showed the roof because that was how the fire traveled, between the roof and the ceiling.

“After I sent the model to the Phoenix Fire Department, they were sold on the idea and saw how powerful these models can be for future teachings,” said Rice. “They have since purchased Sketch Up Pro licenses to be able to model all their house fires for records and teaching of fire fighters department wide.”

Rice’s work will be used across the United States in first responder training, helping countless fire fighters remain safe. He was also recognized as one of only five others on the “Innovation Wall” at the 2015 Bluebeam eXtreme conference.