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  1. #1
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    Default Volunteer department fire inspections

    The West, Texas incident got me wondering. I wonder how many small, POC, or all volunteer depts. perform fire inspections in their districts? Of course my full time job does inspections, we have a whole bureau. My POC dept. also has a part time inspector. We don't have a lot of businesses to worry about, but the bigger ones we usually have a familiarization every 3 years or so. We have a big rock quarry, gun range and store, and a number of other smaller businesses and a lot of Ag. I think it really is imperative that fire depts. do inspections in their areas to do fire prevention and know what hazards are out there. Just wondering what the situation is with other depts is.


  2. #2
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    While we do not do actual inspections, we do try to visit our sites that may pose more of a hazard than just your typical house. Most of our business owners are more that receptive to have us come in and take a tour. That way if we are ever called there for a fire, we are not going in totally blind. We have very little industry in our district.

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    The county put together a book of known chemical hazards, but I'm not sure where our copy is just now. There are a couple of points of interest in surrounding districts. A dairy processing plant in a neighboring town regularly conducts walk-throughs.

    We have no "industry" as such in our first due, but there are a lot of farms, some of which are still active. The major cash crop is hay, however, so we don't have the same fertilizer issues as those places with square miles of speciallized crops like cotton or corn.

    Even the quarries around here are mostly gravel, as opposed to rock requiring blasting.

    That leaves us with a mostly residential fire load, with the usual accompanying hazards - LP, fuel oil, etc.
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    We do walk-throughs of large commercial/residential buildings occasionally but the actual inspections are done by the town fire marshal.

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    We dont inspect but do perform site visits or walk throughs.We try to pre-plan chemical sites using information from Tier II and our county EOP.We try to Work with the LEPC when requesting site visits.It not a prefect system as volunteers sometimes we just dont get the job done when it comes to pre-planning annually.We have gaps in current information about most companies.Just not time to get the pre-planning job done is most cases for a lot of volunteer departments or maybe its just that we put other things ahead of pre-planning.It may be a culture problem.Fight the fire first and ask questions later.We should be pre-planning more.It is a first step in keeping us all safe.
    Last edited by coldfront; 04-25-2013 at 02:03 PM. Reason: spelling error
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    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    There is a difference between Fire Inspections and Pre-Planning.

    Fire Inspections should be conducted by qualified, experienced fire inspectors who are familiar with all building and fire codes, know how to properly conduct inspections, document violations, and follow through with verification of correction of said violations. These are usually conducted by career Fire Dept staff, Fire/Bldg Code Officials, or Fire Marshals under the guidance of the Fire Marshal's Office or Code Enforcement Office. I am the (paid) Fire Inspector/Fire Marshal for several municipalities that are served by full volunteer departments (I am not a responding member of these organizations, but do respond if needed as an FM/BI.) I have a good rapport with the bosses of these departments and maintain open communications with them at all times- and do advise them of any major league violations or concerns that I come across in my every day travels. I am their eyes and ears.

    Pre-Planning (or "Building Familiarization") is what I believe you are referring to. Pre-Planning is conducted by first responders, both career and volunteer. Things like building construction, floor plans, familiarization with floor plans and processes, raw materials storage (HAZ MAT!!!), suppression systems (sprinklers, dry chem systems, etc.) water supplies, etc. are usually focused on.
    Last edited by FWDbuff; 04-25-2013 at 09:13 PM.
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  7. #7
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    We do not do inspections as we are not qualified inspectors and there is no code to enforce in our town. We do, however, pre-plan our major hazard sites every year and other commercial sites every other year. Our major hazard is a Co-op facility not unlike the one in West, ours does not store Ammonium Nitrate though. We also have two large rock quarries in our district.

    We have a fantastic relationship with the Co-op here and on top of our yearly pre-planning they will make sure we know of any changes they make to the facility throughout the year. They let us train on-site whenever we like and they let our members that are employed there respond to all incidents and keep them on the clock while they are gone.

    When we pre-plan we will tell the places things that they can do and that we would like to see to improve fire safety, but there is nothing that we can do to have things enforced since there is no code.

    I would say that all departments should at least pre-plan even if they don't do inspections.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    There is a difference between Fire Inspections and Pre-Planning.

    Fire Inspections should be conducted by qualified, experienced fire inspectors who are familiar with all building and fire codes, know how to properly conduct inspections, document violations, and follow through with verification of correction of said violations. These are usually conducted by career Fire Dept staff, Fire/Bldg Code Officials, or Fire Marshals under the guidance of the Fire Marshal's Office or Code Enforcement Office. I am the (paid) Fire Inspector/Fire Marshal for several municipalities that are served by full volunteer departments (I am not a responding member of these organizations, but do respond if needed as an FM/BI.) I have a good rapport with the bosses of these departments and maintain open communications with them at all times- and do advise them of any major league violations or concerns that I come across in my every day travels. I am their eyes and ears.

    Pre-Planning (or "Building Familiarization") is what I believe you are referring to. Pre-Planning is conducted by first responders, both career and volunteer. Things like building construction, floor plans, familiarization with floor plans and processes, raw materials storage (HAZ MAT!!!), suppression systems (sprinklers, dry chem systems, etc.) water supplies, etc. are usually focused on.
    No, inspection is what I was getting at. (Although at least doing a preplan is helpful too) Seems to me the fire service no matter if paid or volunteer is often the first line of defense in relation to preventing an industrial disaster sometimes. We may not have the expertise to address every situation, but a well trained inspector can often spot something that "just doesn't look right", and refer it to a higher agency. Inspectors would be inexpensive to train and equip in relation to training an equipping a firefighter. Maybe the West, Texas disaster will lead to a push for more training of inspectors in small communities.

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    Due to the way fire inspections are structured in LA, no volunteer departments do them. In fact, most combination and even some career departments do not conduct fire inspections.

    In LA, if you are a fire department and want to do inspections, your department must have a Fire Prevention Bureau, headed by a Prevention Chief. The inspectors themselves work under the authority of the State Fire Marshal, and as such, be certified through testing by (in addition to Inspector I) the State Fire Marshals Office and attend minimum refresher training as dictated by the State Fire Marshal's Office.

    It's a fairly cumbersome process, as well as a fairly expensive process due to the requirement that there must be Chief in place assigned strictly to prevention. For that reason, the only place you see inspections are full-time departments and the larger combo departments in the southern 1/3rd of the state
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 04-28-2013 at 12:19 PM.
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    Forum Member WVFD705's Avatar
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    We do not. We do not have anyone really qualified as an inspector, and if we did, there are no codes to enforce anything in an inspection.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    The West, Texas incident got me wondering. I wonder how many small, POC, or all volunteer depts. perform fire inspections in their districts? Of course my full time job does inspections, we have a whole bureau. My POC dept. also has a part time inspector. We don't have a lot of businesses to worry about, but the bigger ones we usually have a familiarization every 3 years or so. We have a big rock quarry, gun range and store, and a number of other smaller businesses and a lot of Ag. I think it really is imperative that fire depts. do inspections in their areas to do fire prevention and know what hazards are out there. Just wondering what the situation is with other depts is.
    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    No, inspection is what I was getting at. (Although at least doing a preplan is helpful too) Seems to me the fire service no matter if paid or volunteer is often the first line of defense in relation to preventing an industrial disaster sometimes. We may not have the expertise to address every situation, but a well trained inspector can often spot something that "just doesn't look right", and refer it to a higher agency. Inspectors would be inexpensive to train and equip in relation to training an equipping a firefighter. Maybe the West, Texas disaster will lead to a push for more training of inspectors in small communities.
    I think you have your terminology mixed up. What you're describing is called "pre-planning".

    Inspections are to enforce code violations (although it does help with area familiarization as well). Pre-planning is all about knowing what hazards are out there.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MidazoWHAM! View Post
    I think you have your terminology mixed up. What you're describing is called "pre-planning".

    Inspections are to enforce code violations (although it does help with area familiarization as well). Pre-planning is all about knowing what hazards are out there.
    Uh, NO. I'm talking about doing inspections and checking to make sure the State Fire Code is not being violated. Preplanning can be done at the same time. Sometimes a situation arises which is not clear to the inspector and they can get clarification from other agencies like the State Fire Marshall, or a Building Code inspector.

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