As the concrete industry continues to make the case for concrete construction in low- to mid-rise buildings, another huge wood frame apartment building was destroyed recently by fire. The 5-alarm inferno injured one firefighter and three police officers as they worked to put out the blaze.

"The construction was in the wood frame stage," Gilbert Fire Department Captain Gary Hildebrandt told the Arizona Republic newspaper. "It's going to be exposed wood, so it's going to burn hotter and faster, and with the winds kicking up, we had a hard time containing it right away."

The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA), along with other industry associations, is responding to wood's inroads into the mid-rise market. NRMCA has developed a building promotion program to address the need for safer and non-combustible construction, and has extended its Concrete Design Center to offer free help to designers who might prefer concrete to wood but have little experience with concrete buildings.

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