Imagine going to work each day in one of the most dangerous professions in the world and possibly not knowing what your work environment will be when you get there and not knowing what type of pitfalls you will face as you work. As firefighters, that’s the reality of our potential workplace on every shift. Not in our fire stations, but in the buildings and structures that are being threatened and attacked by fire.
Now, imagine having firsthand knowledge of the threats and dangers in the buildings in your first-due district. Imagine knowing what type of processes and products are being manufactured, produced, stored and sold in these buildings before they’re threatened by fire. Imagine knowing if this particular occupancy is a loser or if you have a chance to stop the fire’s progress before the building comes down.
Would this information help you in your risk analysis of the situation? Would it help establish a safe and effective incident action plan?
But how do you get this information after the fire has started?
Let’s consider the impact a company inspection program could have on our communities and on our firefighters.
It used to be believed that only those no longer physically able to perform the job of a firefighter would go into fire prevention and become fire inspectors. Today, nothing could be farther from the truth for many progressive departments, where some of the brightest and best are drawn towards prevention.
In this era of doing more with less, where we cross-train our firefighters to be paramedics and other specialty technicians in order to provide more value to our customers, we also need to concentrate on what will make our firefighters’ work environment safer.
Company inspections put your firefighters, the ones who will be first into a fire, in the buildings under normal atmospheric conditions, with good visibility and reduced stress. These highly trained professionals can be taught some of the basic concepts of fire prevention. Start with these basic goals:
- Prevent fire from occurring by controlling sources of ignition coming into contact with combustible materials.
- Make sure all means of egress are accessible and usable: doors actually open.
- Ensure that all fire-protection systems are in service: sprinkler systems, fire-alarm systems, specialty systems, firewalls and their protected openings are being properly maintained.
These simple, basic goals, along with a mindset of educating business owners on what the problem is and how to correct it, will lead to the start of a company-inspection program that can positively impact your business community and help save our firefighters by giving them more knowledge and reducing the threat of fires.
A company inspection program can be successful with both full-time firefighters and part-time personnel who either work a shift in a combination system or are available during normal business hours. Either way, the end result is a reduction in the impact of fire in your community and a safer work environment for your firefighters.