VIITA Glossary

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Acetylene torch A torch used for welding and cutting. Contains compressed acetylene and oxygen.

Acoustical tile A term applied to modular ceiling panels in board form, with sound-absorbing properties.

Acre A common unit of land area measurement equal to 43,560 square feet.

ADA The Americans with Disabilities Act gives civil rights protection to individuals with disabilities. The act guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.

Adobe A structure built of sun-dried, unburned brick of clay & straw.

AED An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and, if needed, it can send an electric shock to the heart in an attempt to restore a normal rhythm.

Agent An individual who sells and services insurance policies.

Alcove A recess or partly enclosed extension opening into a larger room.

Algae Microorganisms that grow in damp environments, including certain rooftops. They can discolor shingles.

Alleyway A narrow street or passageway between or behind a city street.

Amps (Amperes) The rate at which electricity flows through a conductor.

Annunciator A unit containing two or more indicator lamps, alpha-numeric displays, or other equivalent means in which each indication provides status information about a circuit, condition, or location. When required, the fire alarm annunciator panel shall be located just inside the door most accessible to the fire department.

Apartment building A building or portion thereof containing three or more dwelling units with independent cooking and bathroom facilities.

Approved Acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction. The National Fire Protection Association does not approve, inspect, or certify any installations, procedures, equipment, or materials; nor does it approve or evaluate testing laboratories. In determining the acceptability of installations, procedures, equipment, or materials, the authority having jurisdiction may base acceptance on compliance with NFPA or other appropriate standards. In the absence of such standards, said authority may require evidence of proper installation, procedure, or use.

Arc welding The joining of metal parts by fusion. Heat is produced by the electricity passing between an electrode and the metal, and is usually accompanied by a filler metal and/or pressure.

Asbestos A common form of magnesium silicate which was used in various construction products due to its stability and resistance to fire.

ASTM Formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials, ASTM is a nonprofit, national technical society that publishes definitions, standards, test methods, recommended installation practices and specifications for materials.

Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) The organization, office, or individual responsible for approving equipment, an installation, or a procedure. The phrase “authority having jurisdiction” is used in NFPA documents in a broad manner, since jurisdictions and approval agencies vary, as do their responsibilities. Where public safety is primary, the authority having jurisdiction may be a federal, state, local, or other regional department, or individual such as a fire chief, fire marshal, chief of a fire prevention bureau, labor department, health department, building official, electrical inspector or others having statutory authority. For insurance purposes, an insurance inspection department, rating bureau, or other insurance company representative may be the authority having jurisdiction. In many circumstances, the property owner or his or her designated agent assumes the role of the authority having jurisdiction. At government installations, the commanding officer or departmental official may be the authority having jurisdiction.

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Bailee A person or organization to which possession of the property of others has been entrusted, usually for storage, repair, or servicing.

Balcony A platform that projects from the wall of a building.

Ballast A transformer that steps up the voltage in a florescent lamp.

Balusters Vertical members in a railing used between a top rail and bottom rail or the stair treads. Sometimes referred to as “spindles”.

Balustrade The rail, posts and vertical balusters along the edge of a stairway or elevated walkway.

Band joist Piece of lumber to which the ends of the joists are nailed or screwed.

Basement A building story that has at least one-half of its floor-to-ceiling height above curb level or the base plane. By contrast, a cellar has at least one-half of its floor-to-ceiling height below curb level or the base plane. A basement is included in floor area calculations.

Beam A structural member transversely supporting a load.

Bearing wall A wall that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight. Sometimes called a “girder”.

Bi-fold door Doors that are hinged in the middle to allow them to open in a smaller area than standard swing doors. Often used for closet doors.

Binder A written or oral acknowledgment that insurance is in force and evidence that an applicant has accepted the insurer’s offer to purchase insurance coverage.

Board and batten siding Vertical siding in which boards are installed first with small spaces between them. Narrower boards called battens are then installed over the small spaces.

Boiler An enclosed vessel for heating or power in which water is heated and circulated, either as hot
water or as steam.

Branch circuit The circuit conductors between the final overcurrent device protecting the circuit and the outlet(s).

Breaker panel The electrical box that distributes electric power entering the home to each branch circuit (each plug and switch) and composed of circuit breakers.

Breeze way A roofed, open-sided passageway connecting two structures, such as a house and a garage.

Brick veneer A facing of brick laid against and fastened to the sheathing of a framing wall.

Brownstone Originally, a free-standing multi-story building built for a single family & clad in a once popular sandstone (“brownstone”) masonry building material; many are row houses, which have been split into multiple rental or condominium units, with others remaining as single-family dwellings.

BTU Abbreviation for British Thermal Unit, a standard unit for measuring heat gain or loss.

Built-up roof A roof composed of three to five layers of asphalt felt laminated with coal tar, pitch, or asphalt. The top is finished with crushed slag or gravel. Generally used on flat or low-pitched roofs.

Bulkhead An enclosed structure on the roof of a build­ing that may include mechanical equipment, water tanks and roof access from interior stairwells. It is not counted as floor area.

Bus bar An electric conductor, often a metal bar, that serves as a common connection for two or more circuits. A bus usually carries a large current.

BX cable Armored electrical cable wrapped in galvanized steel outer covering. A factory assembly of insulated conductors inside a flexible metallic covering. It can be run anywhere except where exposed to excessive moisture. It should not be run below grade. It must always be grounded and uses its armor as an equipment ground. It is difficult to pull out old wires or insert new ones.

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Cantilever An overhang. Where one floor extends beyond and over a foundation wall. For example, a fireplace location or bay window cantilever. Normally, not extending over 2 feet.

Carport A roofed shelter for automobiles, usually attached along the side of a dwelling, with one or more sides open.

Cellar A cellar is a level of a building that has at least one-half of its floor-to-ceiling height below curb level or the base plane. By contrast, a basement has at least one-half of its floor-to-ceiling height above curb level or the base plane. A cellar is not included in floor area calculations.

Central station fire alarm system A system or group of systems in which the operations of circuits and devices are transmitted automatically to, recorded in, maintained by, and supervised from a listed central station having competent and experienced servers and operators who, upon receipt of a signal, take such action as required by this code.

Central station service The use of a system or a group of systems in which the operations of circuits and devices at a protected property are signaled to, recorded in, and supervised from a listed central station having competent and experienced operators who, upon receipt of a signal, take such action as required by NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm ode. Related activities at the protected property such as equipment installation, inspection, testing, maintenance, and runner service are the responsibility of the central station or a listed fire alarm service-local company. Central station service is controlled and operated by a person, firm, or corporation whose business is the furnishing of such contracted services or whose properties are the protected premises.

Certification of Completion A document that acknowledges the features of installation, operation (performance), service, and equipment, with representation by the property owner, system installer, system supplier, service organization, and the authority having jurisdiction.

Chimney A structure containing one or more flues for removing gases to the outside atmosphere.

Certificate of Occupancy (CO) This certificate is issued by the local municipality and is required before anyone can occupy and live within the home. It is issued only after the local municipality has made all inspections and all monies and fees have been paid.

Certificate of Insurance (COI) A document providing evidence that certain general types of insurance coverages and limits have been purchased by the party required to furnish the certificate.

Circuit The path of electrical flow from a power source through an outlet and back to ground.

Charring As wood burns, the areas of the wood being consumed will begin to char. Charred portions of wood are not structurally stable. When the surface of structural framing members is charred more than 1/8″ the framing member will generally have to be replaced.

Circuit breaker A device which looks like a switch and is usually located inside the electrical breaker panel or circuit breaker box. It is designed to shut off the power to portions or all of a structure and to limit the amount of power flowing through a circuit (measured in amperes). 110 volt household circuits require a fuse or circuit breaker with a rating of 15 or a maximum of 20 amps. 220 volt circuits may be designed for higher amperage loads e.g. a hot water heater may be designed for a 30 amp load and would therefore need a 30 amp fuse or breaker.

Cladding The application of one material over another (e.g. clapboard over plywood sheathing) to provide a skin or layer intended to control the infiltration of weather elements, or for aesthetic purposes.

Claim A demand made by the insured, or the insured’s beneficiary, for payment of the benefits as provided by the policy.

Clapboard A type of siding made from wedge-shaped boards that overlap with each other.

Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) An authorized representative of the building code enforcement office. The individual responsible for the approval or denial of code inspections and the party responsible for issuing a certificate of occupancy.

Collapse Substantial impairment of the structural integrity of the building.

Column A vertical structural compression member which supports loads.

Combustible Describes any material that will burn.

Commercial lines Refers to insurance for businesses, professionals and commercial establishments.

Common carrier A business or agency that is available to the public for transportation of persons, goods or messages. Common carriers include trucking companies, bus lines and airlines.

Concrete The mixture of Portland cement, sand, gravel, and water. Used to make garage and basement floors, sidewalks, patios, foundation walls, etc.. It is commonly reinforced with steel rods (rebar) or wire screening (mesh).

Concrete block A hollow concrete “brick” generally 8″ x 8″ x 16″ in size.

Condensation Beads or drops of water (and frequently frost in extremely cold weather) that accumulate on the inside of the exterior covering of a building. Use of louvers or attic ventilators will reduce moisture condensation in attics. A vapor barrier under the gypsum lath or dry wall on exposed walls will reduce condensation.

Conductor (electrical) Anything that conducts or carries electricity.

Conduit (electrical) A pipe, usually metal, in which wire is installed.

Consumer Anyone who buys a product or services.

Contractor A properly licensed individual of company that agrees to furnish labor, materials, equipment and associated services to perform the work as specified for a specified price.

Conversion A change of a building’s use to another use.

Coping A construction unit placed at the top of the parapet wall to serve as a protective cover for the wall.

Cornice Overhang of a pitched roof.

Corridor A gallery or passage connecting parts of a building.

Court Any open area, other than a yard or a portion of a yard, which is unobstructed from its lowest level to the sky, and is bounded by building walls, or building walls and one or more lot lines.

Courtyard An open space surrounded by walls or buildings, adjoining or within a building, such as a large apartment building or housing complex.

Coverage The scope of protection provided under an insurance policy. In property insurance, coverage lists perils insured against, properties covered, locations covered, individuals insured, and the limits of indemnification.

Crawl space A shallow space below the living quarters of a house, normally enclosed by the foundation wall and having a dirt floor.

Cripple wall In a wood-frame house, the section of wall under the house between the concrete foundation and the floor joists. Also called crawl space walls.

Curtain wall A thin wall supported by the structural steel or concrete frame of the building independent of the wall below. Also a metal (most often aluminum) framing system on the face of a building containing vision glass panels and spandrel panels made of glass, aluminum, or other material.

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Dedicated circuit An electrical circuit that serves only one appliance (e.g. a dishwasher) or a series of electric heaters or smoke detectors.

Demolition Dismantling or razing of all or part of an existing improvement.

Detector A device suitable for connection to a circuit having a sensor that responds to a physical stimulus such as heat or smoke.

Discharge nozzles (AES) Nozzles that are part of a kitchen auto extinguishing system and made of chrome plated brass, while consisting of a body, strainer, tip, retaining nut and blow off cap.

Dormer A vertical structure, usually housing a window, that projects from a sloping roof and is covered by a separate roof structure.

Dry rot A term loosely applied to any crumbly decay of wood caused by fungi which require considerable moisture for growth.

Downspout A pipe, usually of light metal, for carrying rainwater down from the roof’s horizontal gutters.

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Eaves The horizontal exterior roof overhang.

EPDM A single ply roofing membrane consisting of synthetic rubber, usually of 45 or 60 mils. Application can be ballasted, fully adhered or mechanically attached.

EIFS (Exterior Insulating and Finish System) Exterior wall cladding system consisting primarily of polystyrene foam board with a textured multi-coating of stucco.

Emergency lighting A lighting device that is either battery powered or has a dedicated emergency power supply and is intended to automatically activate upon the loss of building power.

Evacuation The withdrawal of occupants from a building. Evacuation does not include relocation of occupants within a building.

Excavation Cavity or pit produced by digging the earth in preparation for construction.

Exit That portion of a means of egress that is separated from all other spaces of the building or structure by construction or equipment as required in NFPA 101 to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge. Exits include exterior exit doors, exit passageways, horizontal exits, separated exit stairs, and separated exit ramps.

Exposure Measure of vulnerability to loss, usually expressed in dollars or units.

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Façade The main exterior face of a building, sometimes distinguished from the other faces by elaboration of architectural or ornamental details.

Fascia Horizontal boards attached to rafter/truss ends at the eaves and along gables. Roof drain gutters are attached to the fascia.

Fire alarm control unit (panel) A system component that receives inputs from automatic and manual fire alarm devices and may supply power to detection devices and transponder(s) or off-premises transmitter(s). The control unit may also provide transfer of power to the notification appliances and transfer of condition to relays or devices connected to the control unit. The fire alarm control unit can be a local fire alarm control unit or master control unit.

Fire alarm system A system or portion of a combination system consisting of components and circuits arranged to monitor and annunciate the status of fire alarm or supervisory signal-initiating devices and to initiate the appropriate response to those signals.

Fire escape An emergency exit, usually mounted to the outside of a building separate from the main areas of the building and providing a method of escape in the event of a fire or other emergency that makes the stairwells inside a building inaccessible. Fire escapes are most often found on multiple-story residential buildings, such as apartment buildings. A fire escape consists of a number of horizontal platforms, one at each story of a building, with ladders or stairs connecting them. The platform and stairs are usually open steel gratings, to prevent the buildup of ice, snow, and leaves. Railings are usually provided on each of the levels, but as fire escapes are designed for emergency use only, these railings often do not need to meet the same standards as railings in other contexts. The ladder from the lowest level of the fire escape to the ground may be fixed, but more commonly it swings down on a hinge or slides down along a track. The moveable designs allow occupants to safely reach the ground in the event of a fire but prevent persons from accessing the fire escape from the ground at other times (such as to perpetrate a burglary or vandalism).

Fire resistance rating The time, in minutes or hours, that materials or assemblies have withstood a fire exposure as established in accordance with the test procedures of NFPA 251, Standard Methods of Tests of Fire Endurance of Building Construction and Materials.

Fire stop A solid, tight closure of a concealed space, placed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke through such a space. In a frame wall, this will usually consist of 2 by 4 cross blocking between studs.

Fire wall Any wall built for the purpose of restricting or preventing the spread of fire in a building. Such walls are of solid masonry or concrete and generally sub-divide a building from the foundation to two or more feet above the plane of the roof.

Flammable Capable of being ignited easily, burning intensely, or having a rapid rate of flame spread.

Flashing Sheet metal or other material used in roof and wall construction to protect a building from water intrusion.

Flash point The lowest temperature at which a liquid or solid releases enough vapor to ignite when mixed with air.

Flood plain A land area adjacent to a river, stream, lake, estuary or areas, if left undisturbed, act to store excess floodwater.

Floor Plan A scaled drawing showing the horizontal arrangement of one level of the building that typically indicates walls, doors and dimensions.

Flue The space or passage in a chimney through which smoke, gas, or fumes ascend. Each passage is called a flue, which together with any others and the surrounding masonry make up the chimney.

Fork lift A forklift is a piece of machinery that’s used to lift and move large loads.

Foundation The supporting portion of a structure below the first floor construction, or below grade, including the footings.

Framing Lumber used for the structural members of a building, such as studs, joists, and rafters.

Furnace A heating system that uses the principle of thermal convection. When air is heated, it rises and as the air cools it settles. Ducts are installed to carry the hot air from the top of the furnace to the rooms. Other ducts, called cold air returns, return the cooler air back to the furnace.

Fuse A device often found in older homes designed to prevent overloads in electrical lines.

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Gambrel roof A style of roof consisting of two sides that meet at the ridge and slope in opposite directions. Each side has two sections, the lower section having a steeper slope than the upper section.

General contractor A contractor who enters into a contract with the owner of a project for the construction of the project and who takes full responsibility for its completion, although the contractor may enter into subcontracts with others for the performance of specific parts or phases of the project.

GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) A device to cut off the flow of electricity if a short circuit is detected. GFCI receptacles are required in wet areas including bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and outdoor areas.

Girder A large or principal beam of wood or steel used to support concentrated loads at isolated points along its length.

Glazing The material, usually glass, that fills spaces between sash members.

Grade Ground level, or the elevation at any given point.

Ground Refers to electricity’s habit of seeking the shortest route to earth. Neutral wires carry it there in all circuits. An additional grounding wire or the sheathing of the metal-clad cable or conduit that protects against shock if the neutral leg is interrupted.

Ground fault A condition in which the resistance between a conductor and ground reaches an unacceptably low level.

Guard rail A guardrail is a barrier that prevents a person from falling off a deck, porch, mezzanine, balcony or the side of stairs.

Gutter A shallow channel or conduit of metal or wood set below and along the (fascia) eaves of a house to catch and carry off rainwater from the roof.

Gypsum board (aka drywall, wall board or gypsum) A panel (normally 4′ X 8′, 10′, 12′, or 16′) made with a core of gypsum (chalk-like) rock, which covers interior walls and ceilings.

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Hazard A circumstance that increases the likelihood or probable severity of a loss. For example, high levels of airborne wood dust in a wood shop is a hazard that increases the probability of a fire or explosion.

Header (a) A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which joists are nailed in framing for a chimney, stairway, or other opening. (b) A wood lintel. (c) The horizontal structural member over an opening (for example over a door or window).

Heat detector A fire detector designed to operate at a predetermined temperature or rate of temperature rise.

High-rise building A building more than 75 ft (23 m) in height. Building height shall be measured from the lowest level of fire department vehicle access to the floor of the highest occupiable story.

Hip roof A roof that rises by inclined planes from all four sides of a building.

Hold Harmless Agreement Contract by which legal liability for damages of one party is assumed by the other party. One party agrees to hold the other party harmless (and usually indemnify) from the liabilities associated with the hazards of a particular activity or venture. Contracts may contain a hold harmless clause.

Hood A device that directs and captures grease-laden vapors and gases from a cooking appliance.

Horn/Strobe A combination audible and visible fire alarm notification appliance, which operates as a horn and a strobe light, simultaneously. The horn produces a sound at a nominal frequency and the strobe light flashes at a predetermined rate. The strobe provides notification for the deaf.

Hotel A building or groups of buildings under the same management, in which more than 16 sleeping units are primarily used by transients (those who stay 30 days or less) for lodging with or without meals.

HVAC An abbreviation for Heat, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning and includes window, through-wall and yard-mounted heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment, including window louvers, wall-mounted grilles and stove, bathroom and/or dryer vents.

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I-Beam A steel beam with a cross section resembling the letter “I.” It is used for long spans as basement beams or over wide wall openings, such as a double garage door, when wall and roof loads are imposed on the opening.

Independent contractor One free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others and does not owe a “fiduciary duty”. Example: architect, engineer, prime or main contractor, construction manager at-risk.

Insurance Services Office (ISO) ISO is a provider of risk management services, including construction classification data.

Interior finish Material used to cover the interior framed areas of walls and ceilings.

International Building Code (IBC) IBC is a model building code developed by the International Code Council (ICC) and adopted by most states.

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Joist Wooden 2 X 8’s, 10’s, or 12’s that run parallel to one another and support a floor or ceiling, and supported in turn by larger beams, girders, or bearing walls.

Junction box Box which protects splices in electrical wires and provides access. Switches, outlets, and boxes for light fixtures are examples of junction boxes.

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Kilowatt (kw) One thousand watts. A kilowatt hour is the base unit used in measuring electrical consumption.

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Lath A building material of narrow wood, metal, gypsum, or insulating board that is fastened to the frame of a building to act as a base for plaster, shingles, or tiles.

Lessee A person or entity to whom a lease is given; a person or entity that leases property as a tenant.

Lessor A person or entity that grants a lease to another; a person or entity that leases property as a landlord.

Listed equipment Equipment and materials which, following evaluation and acceptance by a qualified testing agency, are placed on a list of certification. The listing shows that the equipment and materials comply with accepted national standards, which have been approved or evaluated for conformity with approved, or national standards.

Loft A building or space within a building designed for commercial or manufacturing use, generally constructed prior to 1930. In certain manufacturing districts, lofts may be converted to residential use by CPC special permit.

Loss The dollar amount associated with a claim.

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Machine shop A workshop where power-driven tools are used for making,
finishing, or repairing machines or machine parts.

Malicious mischief Willful or wanton destruction of another’s property.

Mansard A roof having a double slope on all four sides, the lower slope being much steeper. In rowhouse design, a double-sloped roof on the building front, below a flat roof.

Masonry Stone, brick, concrete, hollow-tile, concrete block, or other similar building units or materials. Normally bonded together with mortar to form a wall.

Means of Egress A continuous and unobstructed way of travel from any point in a building or structure to a public way consisting of three separate and distinct parts: (1) the exit access, (2) the exit and (3) the exit discharge,or more simply put, the path from a location in the building to the street.

Mechanical equipment Includes, but not be limited to, heating, venting and air conditioning equipment, water tanks and their supporting structures, satellite dishes, stair and elevator bulkheads, screens, dunnages, baffles and other accessory installations, but shall not include telecommunication equipment and conventional television antennas.

Mercantile Occupancy Occupancies which include stores, markets, and other rooms, buildings, or structures for the display and sale of merchandise e.g. department stores, supermarkets, and drugstores

Mezzanine A low-ceilinged story between two main stories of a building; an intermediate story that projects in the form of a balcony. The area of a mezzanine cannot exceed one-third of the area of the floor it occupies.

Mold A form of fungus. Some molds can cause disease in humans.

Mortar A mixture of cement (or lime) with sand and water used in masonry work.

Mortgagee The lender who makes the mortgage loan.

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Named insured An individual, business or organization that is identified on the policy declarations page as the insured(s) under a policy. Most policies, especially liability policies, will have insureds or additional insureds other than the named insured (such as employees, volunteers, board members, landlords), but only the named insured is responsible for premium payments, receipt of notices, and adjustment of losses.

Named Perils Perils specifically covered on an insured property.

National Electrical Code (NEC) or NFPA 70, A standard for the safe installation of electrical wiring & equipment in the United States. The NEC, while having no legally binding regulation as written, can be and often is adopted by states, municipalities and cities in an effort to standardize their enforcement of safe electrical practices within their respective jurisdiction. In some cases, the NEC is amended, altered and may even be rejected in lieu of regional regulations, as voted on by the governing bodies of any given locale.

Nonbearing wall A wall supporting no load other than its own weight.

Non-combustible A material that, in the form in which it is used and under the conditions anticipated will not aid combustion or add appreciable heat to an ambient fire. Materials, where tested in accordance with ASTM E136, Standard Test Method for Behavior of Materials in a Vertical Tube Furnace at 7500C, and conforming to the criteria contained in Section 7 of the referenced standard, shall be considered as non-combustible.

Nosing The projecting edge of a stair tread.

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Oriented Strand Board (OSB) A manufactured 4′ X 8′ wood panel made out of 1″- 2″ wood chips and glue. Often used as a substitute for plywood. A type of wood product used for sheathing, it is produced by gluing together three layers of wood chips or strands that are smaller than the chips used in waferboard and are longer than they are wide. The chips in the top and bottom layers are parallel to the length of the panel, and the chips in the center layer are perpendicular.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) A federally funded agency in the Department of Labor, which seeks to develop job safety and health standards.

Overhang Outward projecting eave-soffit area of a roof; the part of the roof that hangs out or over the outside wall.

Oxy-fuel welding (commonly called oxyacetylene weldingoxy welding, or gas welding in the U.S.) andoxy-fuel cutting Processes that use fuel gases and oxygen to weld and cut metals. In oxy-fuel welding, a welding torch is used to weld metals. Welding metal results when two pieces are heated to a temperature that produces a shared pool of molten metal. The molten pool is generally supplied with additional metal called filler. Filler material depends upon the metals to be welded. In oxy-fuel cutting, a cutting torch is used to heat metal to kindling temperature. A stream of oxygen is then trained on the metal, and metal burns in that oxygen and then flows out of the cut as an oxide slag.

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Pallets Wooden platforms used for storing and shipping material. Forklifts and hand trucks are used to move these wooden platforms around.

Parapet A low wall that serves as a vertical barrier at the edge of a roof, terrace, or other raised area; in an exterior wall, the part entirely above the roof.

Particle board Plywood substitute made of course sawdust that is mixed with resin and pressed into sheets. Used for closet shelving, floor underlayment, stair treads, etc..

Partition A wall that subdivides spaces within any story of a building or room.

Penthouse A relatively small structure built above the plane of the roof.

Peril The cause of a possible loss.

Perimeter drain 3″ or 4″ diameter perforated plastic pipe that goes around the perimeter (either inside or outside) of a foundation wall (before backfill) and collects and diverts ground water away from the foundation. Generally, it is “daylighted” into a sump pit inside the home, and a sump pump is sometimes inserted into the pit to discharge any accumulation of water.

Personal Lines Insurance for individuals and families, such as private passenger auto and homeowners insurance.

Pigtailing A method for reducing the fire hazard associated with older aluminum wiring, it involves splicing a short length of copper wire (pigtail) to the original aluminum wire, and then attaching the copper wire to the existing electrical device e.g. a receptacle.

Pitch The incline slope of a roof or the ratio of the total rise to the total width of a house e.g. a 6-foot rise and 24-foot width is a one-fourth pitch roof. Roof slope is expressed in the inches of rise, per foot of horizontal run.

Plaster Made from concrete, water and aggregate. It is mixed using sand as its aggregate, using no coarse aggregates, such as gravel. It produces a hard, concrete-like surface. Plaster is often used as a finish coat on the exterior of a block wall.

Plenum The main hot air supply duct leading from a furnace.

Plywood A panel (normally 4′ X 8′) of wood made of three or more layers of veneer, compressed and joined with glue, and usually laid with the grain of adjoining plies at right angles to give the sheet strength. Type of wood product used for sheathing produced by gluing together several thin layers or veneers of wood. Each layer is called a ply. The grain of each ply runs perpendicular to the next ply. There is an odd number of plys, so that the exposed surface grain on both sides runs in the same direction.

Pointing The treatment of joints between bricks, stone, or other masonry components by filling with mortar; also, called tuck-pointing.

Policy The written contract effecting insurance, or the certificate thereof, by whatever name called, and including all clause, riders, endorsements, and papers attached thereto and made a part thereof.

Portland cement Cement made by heating clay and crushed limestone into a brick and then grinding to a pulverized powder state.

Pre-cast concrete Concrete which is cast and cured in a location other than its final resting position and transported to its final position e.g. pre-cast beams, lintels, wall panels and elevated slabs.

Pre-stressed concrete A process of preparing concrete slabs and beams for extra strength by pouring concrete mix over tightly drawn steel cables, steel rods or tendons to provide strong dense concrete.

Premium The price of insurance protection for a specified risk for a specified period of time.

Probable Maximum Loss An estimate of the largest loss that a building or a business in the building is likely to suffer because of a single fire, assuming proper functioning of the existing mitigation features (sprinklers, local fire department response, etc.). The PML is usually expressed in terms of dollar value or as a percentage of the building’s value. PML also considers multiple building risks, for example, apartment complexes, and, with it, how many of the buildings might burn in the event of a fire in one of the buildings.

Public way A street, alley or yard open to the outside and leading to a public area.

PVC or CPVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride) A type of white or light gray plastic pipe sometimes used for water supply lines and waste piping.

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Rafter Lumber used to support the roof sheeting and roof loads. Generally, 2 X 10’s and 2 X 12’s are used. The rafters of a flat roof are sometimes called roof joists. Sloped roof framing member that supports the roof sheathing as well as live and dead loads that are placed on the roof.

Rate-of-Rise Detector A device that responds when the temperature rises at a rate exceeding a predetermined value.

Rebar Steel bars included in the poured concrete to help distribute the load and reinforce the hardened concrete. Rebar is typically cast with ridges for better adherence to the concrete.

Reinforced concrete Concrete with added materials such as rebar, wire mesh, fiber mesh, dowel bars, expanded metal fabric or cold drawn wire cable, which act together with the concrete to resist external force.

Retaining wall A structure that holds back a slope and prevents soil erosion.

Ridge Highest part of the roof where the roof planes meet, also called the peak.

Ridge vent Placed along the ridge of the roof, it allows ventilation of the roof by raising the level of the ridge slightly, leaving room for air flow. A filtration fabric placed in the side vents allows air to move through, while preventing insects from entering.

Rim joist A rim joist (or band joist as it is sometimes called) is a sill or timber positioned on edge along an outer foundation wall and nailed to the ends of floor joists also set on edge, thus forming a cap, which keeps the floor joists true, while also providing a flat surface for attaching the exterior siding.

Riser Each of the vertical boards closing the spaces between the treads of stairways. Part of a stair that is placed vertically between two treads.

Roof joist The rafters of a flat roof and used to support the roof sheeting and roof loads. Generally, 2 X 10’s and 2 X 12’s are used.

Row house One of a group of an unbroken line of attached houses that share common side walls, known as party walls.

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Siamese connection A Y-shaped standpipe installed close to the ground outside a building to provide two inlet connections for fire hoses to the standpipes and/or the sprinkler system.

Scupper (1) An opening for drainage in a wall, curb or parapet. (2) The drain in a downspout or flat roof, usually connected to the downspout.

Scuttle A hatchway or opening through a roof-deck or ceiling for access purposes.

Semi-annual Every six months.

Semi-detached A building attached to a similar one on one side but unattached on the other.

Shake A wood roofing material, normally cedar or redwood. Produced by splitting a block of the wood along the grain line. Modern shakes are sometimes machine sawn on one side.

Sheathing The structural wood panel covering, usually OSB or plywood, used over studs, floor joists or rafters/trusses of a structure.

Sheet rock (aka drywall, wall board or gypsum) A manufactured panel made out of gypsum plaster and encased in a thin cardboard. Usually 1/2″ thick and 4′ x 8′ or 4′ x 12′ in size. The ‘Green board’ type drywall has a greater resistance to moisture than regular (white) plasterboard and is used in bathrooms and other “wet” areas.

Shingles Roof covering of asphalt, asbestos, wood, tile, slate, or other material cut to stock lengths, widths, and thickness.

Short circuit A situation that occurs when hot and neutral wires come in contact with each other. Fuses and circuit breakers protect against fire that could result from a short.

Siding Common exterior finish installed on walls to keep moisture and wind out of the building and to provide an attractive appearance. Siding may be made from wood, pressed wood byproducts, hardboard, vinyl, or metal.

Sill A sill is the lowest member of the frame of a structure, resting on the foundation & supporting the floor joists or the uprights of the wall.

Sill plate (mudsill) Bottom horizontal member of an exterior wall frame which rests on top a foundation, sometimes called mudsill. Also sole plate, bottom member of an interior wall frame.

Single membrane Roof system with just one waterproof layer. The most common types of single membrane roofs are modified bitumen and elastomeric roof systems.

Single Room Occupancy (SRO) A building that houses people in single rooms (bedrooms), with shared bathrooms and kitchens often on the same floor.

Skylight A more or less horizontal window located on the roof of a building.

Slab A concrete floor poured directly onto the soil which may have a bed of gravel in it or reinforcing steel bars crisscrossed in it.

Slag (welding) The residue left on a weld bead from the flux.

Smoke Barrier A continuous membrane, either vertical or horizontal, such as a wall, floor, or ceiling assembly, that is designed and constructed to restrict the movement of smoke. A smoke barrier might or might not have a fire resistance rating. Such barriers might have protected openings.

Soffit The area below the eaves and overhangs. The underside where the roof overhangs the walls. Usually the underside of an overhanging cornice.

Space heater A self-contained device for heating an enclosed area.

Sprinkler head A sprayer made up of a threaded nipple connecting the head to a water pipe, an activation device such as a fusible link or heat sensitive bulb held in place by a yolk and a deflector that breaks up the water spray into fine droplets ( a spray).

Stair landing A platform between flights of stairs or at the termination of a flight of stairs. Often used when stairs change direction. Normally no less than 3 ft. X 3 ft. square.

Stairwell A vertical enclosing a stair.

Standpipe system An arrangement of piping, valves, hose connections, and related equipment installed in a building in a fixed manner. The systems may or may not have hoses permanently attached. Water supplies may or may not be continually provided to standpipe systems. These features of a standpipe system are dictated by the class and type of system. Fire department personnel trained in manual fire suppression methods are the ones who primarily use standpipe systems. Many standpipe systems no longer have occupant hose lines (small diameter 1-1/2 inch). The fixed piping of a standpipe system in a building allows the fire service to connect its hose lines into a pressurized water source near the fire floor. Consequently, the fire service is relieved of the burden of extending hoses into the building from grade level to the location (floor) of the fire. In mid- to- high rise buildings, standpipe systems are extremely important for the prompt manual extinguishment of fires.

Stoop The steps which lead to the front door.

Stop order A formal, written notification to a contractor to discontinue some or all work on a project for reasons such as safety violations, defective materials or workmanship, or cancellation of the contract.

Storm surge An onshore rush of water associated with a low pressure weather system, typically a tropical cyclone or hurricane. Storm surge is caused primarily by high winds pushing on the ocean’s surface. The wind causes the water to pile up higher than the ordinary sea level. Storm surges are particularly damaging when they occur at the time of high tide, combing the effects of the surge and the tide.

Strip mall Usually a long one-story building or group of buildings housing several adjacent retail stores or service establishments.

Stud A vertical wood framing member, also referred to as a wall stud, attached to the horizontal sole plate below and the top plate above. Normally 2 X 4’s or 2 X 6’s, 8′ long (sometimes 92 /8″). One of a series of wood or metal vertical structural members placed as supporting elements in walls and partitions.

Subcontractor contractor Contractor who specializes in performing a specific building trade such as drywall, masonry, or painting. A subcontractor will often enter into a subcontract with a general contractor to perform specific work in the construction for an agreed upon price.

Subflooring Boards or plywood installed over joists on which the finish floor rests.

Subsidence Movement of the land on which property is situated. A structure built on a hillside may slide down the hill due to earth movement caused by heavy rains.

Sump pump A sump pump is a pump used to remove water that has accumulated in a water
collecting sump basin, commonly found in the basement of homes.

Suspended ceiling A ceiling system supported by hanging it from the overhead structural framing.

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Tensile strength The greatest longitudinal stress a structural member can resist without adverse affects (breaking or cracking).

Torch down roof (Single Ply or Modified Bitumen) A newer roofing material mostly used on flat roofs. This material usually comes in rolls and is applied to the roof with an open flame or “torch”.

Tread The horizontal surface board in a stairway on which the foot is placed.

Truss A frame or jointed structure designed to act as a beam of long span, while each member is usually subjected to longitudinal stress only—either tension or compression.

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UL (Underwriters’ Laboratories) An independent testing agency that checks electrical devices and other components for possible safety hazards.

Underwriting The process of selecting risks for insurance and classifying them according to their degrees of insurability so that the appropriate rates may be assigned. The process also includes rejection of those risks that do not qualify.

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Valve A device to stop, start or regulate the flow of liquid or gas through or from piping.

Vandalism Deliberate destruction of property.

Vapor barrier Layer of material placed on the exterior of the structure to prevent moisture from penetrating the surface of the structure.

Vent A pipe or duct which allows the flow of air and gasses to the outside.

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Wok A metal pan having a rounded bottom, used especially for frying and steaming in Asian cooking.

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Zone The section of a building that is served by one heating or cooling loop because it has noticeably distinct heating or cooling needs.

Zoning Restrictions of areas or regions of land within specific geographical areas based on permitted building size, character, and uses as established by governing urban authorities.

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