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RIEMA Warns that Roof Collapse Threats Will Likely Increase with Projected Snow Event for Weekend

Cranston- With forecasters predicting another significant winter weather event for Saturday, RI Emergency Management officials are warning that roof collapse incidents may increase.

To date, a number of building structures have collapsed in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts. The progressive accumulation of snow and ice on flat roofed structures as a result of the rain, sleet, and snow storms of the past two weeks, has been identified as the main contributing factor for these collapses. RIEMA REMINDS YOU THAT ROOF COLLAPSE CONTINUES TO BE OF HIGH CONCERN.

Homeowners should be mindful of the risk of personal injury to themselves and occupants before removing snow from roofs. If you can do it safely clear your roof drains. A contractor could be helpful in assessing the need for snow removal.

While some snow can be removed from the ground level individuals need to be mindful of the risk of personal injury to themselves and occupants before removing snow from roofs. Do not attempt to go on your roof to remove snow unless you are completely sure it is safe to do so, especially if you have a pitched roof. Additionally, home and business owners would be well served to have a contractor or structural engineer assess their roofs before venturing out onto them.

Mr. Jack Leyden, state Building Commissioner, notes that many local tree companies have been using their bucket trucks for roof snow removal purposes and are a great option for homeowners. Additionally, he stated that “the single most important preventative action a homeowner can take is to be sure the house’s drainage system is clear of debris and flowing. Allowing your gutters to do their job will prevent the water from damning on the roof, thus reducing the potential for excessive weight” concluded Leyden.

Safety Tips for clearing your roof…: • When possible, use long-handled snow rakes or poles. • If you must use a ladder, make certain that the base is securely anchored. Ask a friend, neighbor or adult family member to hold the ladder while you climb. • Know where the snow is going to fall before clearing the area. • Make certain not to contact electrical wires. • If possible, do not attempt to clear the roof alone. • If you are afraid of heights or think the job is too big for you, HIRE HELP. • Clearing roofs is a dangerous task. However, if you think safety, and work safely, you will get the job done. • In many cases, roof ice dams can form causing water build-up, leading to interior damage. To minimize the risk of over-stressing a building roof due to accumulated or drifting snow. • Flat roof drainage systems should be kept clear to minimize the risk of excess roof ponding in the event of subsequent heavy rainfall or melting.

Additional resources to reference in roof clearing can be found at:

Rhode Island Building Code Commission

State of RI Building Code Commission, Staff Contact information

Local Building Inspectors Contact Information

Job Site Resources: OSHA Job Site Safety Handbook including Working on Roofs

OHSA Safety and Health Topics-Fall Protection

If you need assistance please contact your local EMA director.

In case of emergency call your fire department by dialing 911.

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