How well do you know the buildings and occupancies in your response jurisdiction?

As you drive about your response district today, coming back from an alarm, heading to the firehouse tonight or running errands around your community this weekend, take a good look around.

Ask your self a simple question; “How well do you know the buildings, structures and occupancies in your response jurisdiction?”


Be honest, do you really understand how those “older residential” structures were built and understand how fire travels and impacts your fireground operations? Are your aware of the newest features of engineered structural support systems being constructed within that new set of homes going up in your second-due area? Are you aware, that vacant office building is being converted into a light manufacturing and assembly business? How about those unoccupied store fronts and businesses that have recently closed up due to the tough economic times.... any special hazards or operational concerns to your company should you get a dispatch to respond?

Have the senior members of your station or department shared their stories of operations and incidents at various buildings around your district or community? Did you listen to them, or were you quick to dismiss those “old war stories”. There’s a wealth of “pre-planning’ nuggets hidden in those stories. Take the time to listen, remember or postulate.

Take a good look around….think about any given building, the one across the street that you’re looking at while you wait for the traffic light to change; Think about a fire in that same building. Do you really understand how it will truly perform under combat structural fire conditions? What’s the building’s collapse profile, how much operational time will you have, what dynamic risk assessment factors will you have to deal with, how safe is it for you to engage in interior operations upon your arrival? How can this building, its occupancy and structural system hurt, my team, my company, my firefighters, my department, me?

Sometimes things aren’t as obvious as them seem. You may have responded and operated at numerous incidents at a wide variety of buildings in your response area, or very few; some routine, others maybe more demanding…the question remains, “What do you Really know about your buildings?” Your life may one day depend on what you actually do know or recollect. Take a good look around

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We preplan everything in our district and yearly review them...In fact that's what training is tonight....pre-plans and a walkthrough of a new business...Stay safe and remember to always Keep the Faith.....Paul
Very true They were talking about this during one of our recent training nights and quite frankly I need to do better to know what buildings and occupancies are. Had a house last night that I would have never know they layout had it not been for a malfunctioning CO detector. Good Point Chris
Unfortunately Paul, I'd say that your FD is an exception. Many, many the world over don't preplan, don't do inspections, don't do walk arounds, etc.

I used to work for a company that was identified by ASIO as one of the top 5 terrorist targets in Australia.

I invited all local emergency serives (Police, Fire, Ambulance, SES) to attend some information sessions at times that fit them (ie: ring me and we'll fit it into your roster, day, night, etc)

We got 1x ambulance crew attend and that was it.

More phone calls as a follow up- still nothing.

Totally uninterested.

Intersetinglt enough, the MFB had a station not even 1 km up the road- didn't bother to send a single shift up to look around.

I bet though, if they got a call that went pear shaped, they'd be the first to complain.... :(
I think that in a lot of cases pre-plans are written because SOP's state they are required. They are written and then ignored. I recently asked about updating ours, and was told "the premises don't change" - how can you know this if you don't check the plans yearly? I haven't given up.
Having an understanding of the risks in your primary response area. Essential.

Having an understanding of general construction methods used in your area. Essential.

Knowing houseplans, layouts? Impossible, there is no such thing as a 'standard' layout here and there are simply too many houses. Each house we go to is a wonderful learning experience...
We have a preplan for all the commercial buildings complete with floor plans, fire protective equipment, hazardous materials, and hazards to watch out for. We do walk throughs throughout the year and any changes to the building, our District Fire Marshal gives us photo's and and sets up another walk through.
Currently we do not have any pre-plans in our area but we do the fire inspections. It is about 300 inspections twice a year. We split them up so everybody has about 10 inspections and we try to change it up everytime so you don't get the same ones you had before. We do that so everybody can see the basic layout of the businesses and churches in our district. We eventually would like to have pre-plans for all of the businesses.
Chris, this is an easy one for us, town of 800, I’ve lived here my entire life. Heck my house is the oldest in town, or so I’m told, 165years, been remolded a time or 2, any one seen 1in by 24in dimension lumber? That’s what it’s sheeted with. Sorry got a little side tracked. Most commercials in town come to us once a year for an inspection, insurance requirement. We have 250-300 homes, maybe 50-75 commercials with the bulk of the town constructed between 1900-1920; there’s a tip for you, learn a little history about your town/city; you should find large sections were developed together and in a relative short period of time, gives foresight as to type of construction.

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