Fire Prevention..."It Is Not My Job!"

During a recent fire officer class, students were dreading the weeklong topic of fire prevention. An activity which many felt was beyond the scope of their duties as company officers.

6. The fire protection systems are too complicated to learn.
The fire protection systems are evolving with technology to provide enhanced protection. They are there to help firefighters do there job in a safer manner. This is no different than how our fire apparatus, fire equipment has become more complicated. Even our daily routines in the fire service have changed. Some may even remember the days before having to check e-mail or do reports on a complicated computer. Learning the fire protection systems will only help firefighters perform their tasks during an emergency incident.

5. It's boring...
The changes in technology combined with need to build buildings in a more economical fashion have escalated challenges for the fire protection professional. This combined with the evolution of sprinklers to meet the demands of the consumer have created a work environment within the fire department that has become one of the most technical areas that is constantly changing. Trying to keep up with the latest fire protection products and building methods alone is keeps one interest.

4. It won't help me.
Participating in fire prevention activities will help everyone. It provides the opportunity to interact with the public and sell the services of the fire department. The customer has the greatest of chance of encountering two individuals in a fire department. They are a paramedic or a fire inspector. If the customer has a positive interaction with the fire department it only helps the image of the fire department as a whole.

Out in the community learning the operations within each building and the building's fire protection features only helps the firefighter when he or she is called to the building for a structure fire at 0300 hours. How many fires have been fought in smokey conditions that would have been easier and safer if the firefighters had the opportunity to see the inside of the structure during safer conditions?

3. It has nothing to do with fire suppression.
Fire prevention has everything to do with suppression. The fire protection features of the building are only there to control the fire until firefighters arrive. Granted many times the systems have extinguished most of the fire, but the firefighters benefit from having safer working conditions. In those cases where the building does not have built-in fire protection features, the construction methods of the building play a critical role in the action plan developed by the incident commander to extinguish a fire in the building.

2. Liability...I don't want to get my employer in a heap of trouble.
This is a big "cop out". There is liability in everything firefighters and paramedics do. The complexity of the job has evolved significantly. Fire departments perform many functions and there is legal responsibility with each one. As with all functions of a fire department, proper training is the key component to help reduce legal exposure. Begin training firefighters about fire prevention at their level of expertise and then expand the level of complexity. Use the fire prevention bureau to teach Engine Company inspection techniques. Some departments use the train the trainer method. The shift commanders are taught the basics of fire prevention so he or she can then go and teach the rest of the shift!

1. It's not my job! This is the only reason we can agree with. Fire prevention is not your job.....IT IS EVERYONE'S JOB!