Fire fighters do a lot of work in the physical sense, on the other hand fire inspectors fight the fires before they are created. City codes and ordinances are created to the specifics of every state and fire inspectors are the ones to implement and enforce them to all businesses, buildings, and houses. Fire inspectors also make sure that every building has the proper extinguishing systems. Many house and business fires can be prevented, and the number of theses incidents can be resolved with easy steps and guidelines. Fire inspectors respond to civil complaints and either immediately or in time, depending on the life risks it pertains. Fire-fighting is not the only way to fight fires.
Fires can come in many sizes, and the dangers that fire can really pose are usually unexpected. Even though firefighters do a great job at fighting fire, there is an easier way to fight fire without physically demand. This type of firefighting is done by fire inspectors. These fire inspectors inspect buildings to make sure that they are following the proper codes and standards set by the state and their local city laws. Fire inspectors make sure that buildings have proper fire extinguishments devices to fight fires. Aside from this, fire inspectors respond to civil complaints in which there can be a life hazard. “Every 24 seconds, a fire department in the United States responds to a fire somewhere in the nation” (NFPA). Fire inspectors are one of the greatest strongest preventions against structural fires. Firefighting is not just physical, but it is also done through inspections to prevent fires from even starting.
Every state has codes and ordinances built in that fall under a broad description of law. These codes are built under three different levels of government; federal, state, and local. “Standards and codes are developed to establish minimum requirements for the design, construction, and the use of buildings, structures, and facilities and their installation of equipment” (IFSTA, 2009, pg37). An inspector’s duty is to interpret and apply adopted codes and standards. This is important because if the inspector goes up to a business owner and tells them that a certain part of the inspection is not up to code than it may cost the owner money to get the supposed problem fixed. Fire inspectors are not expected to memorize every code or standard, for codes and standards are always updated every three to five years. This gives another reason to why inspectors need to be able to interpret codes correctly. Codes are not made to make businesses spend money, but to prevent any future fires that can occur.
Many buildings are being built rapidly. Recently, California passed a law that obligates all new buildings and houses to have a fire sprinklers system. This is something fire inspectors look for in buildings and houses while they are doing their routine inspection. Some houses may not be required to have fire sprinkler systems, but it will only be required for those houses whom were built before the code had become a law. In every building there should be a source of fire extinguishment. This also includes fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers have five different classifications, and each is made for a specific type of fire. Therefore, every business has a specific type of fire extinguisher that depends on the type of business it is. For example, a restaurant will need a class K fire extinguisher because it is specifically for fires involving cooking oils and fats. A gasoline station may need a class B fire extinguisher because it is involved with “flammable and combustible liquids or flammable gases” (Shackelford, 2009, pg58). These types of inspections are the things a fire inspector is looking for.
Fire departments or inspection bureaus will receive calls from the public in which they have complaint for a business. These complaints consist of chained doors, expired fire extinguishers, or anything that the public has a concern for. This sort of complaint is called a citizen complaint. The message is then passed to the fire inspector who will then respond to the complaint either immediately or with time, depending on the severity of the situation. “Complaints that involve a serious life safety threat require immediate action and are investigated immediately and corrected as quickly as possible” (IFSTA, 2009, pg754). When a serious life safety threat is violated, the inspectors do a full inspection of the facility and will have the threat fixed at the time of the inspection. If in order for the threat that needs to be fixed requires time, then the fire inspector will have to schedule a follow up inspection. If the life
safety threat is no longer a threat and is resolved after the follow up inspection, then the inspector will write a formal letter to the person who originally filed the complaint. The letter written to the person who filed the complaint is to thank them for the effort and contribution for informing the community of a hazard that may have been harmful in worst case scenarios. This sort of letter keeps a close connection to the community mentioned by Murnane, “Prompt investigations of complaints encourages continued support of fire-prevention measures within a community” (2009, pg754). With these types of complaints to the city the bureaus can mitigate the chances of fires that can be produced or in some instances reduce the dangers the people may go through.
Fire inspectors have a great responsibility to serve to the community and enforce fire related codes and ordinances. Without the help of fire inspectors, fire fighters would be driving up and down the streets every hour of everyday in efforts of fighting fires that could have been easily avoided. Fire codes and ordinances are made for every state specifically and the people who will be enforcing them are the fire inspectors. If a citizen feels concerned of a specific thing inside a public building, fire inspectors would be the ones to respond and make sure that the business is running at the safety of others. Firefighters can fight a physical fire, but fire inspectors will prevent fires. Fires in a community are unavoidable and out of our control but the chances of a fire can at least be reduced with proper rules and guidelines.
Murnane, L. (2009). Fire Inspection and Code Enforcement. Stillwater: Board of Regiments.
Shackelford, R. (2009). Fire behavior and Combustion Process. Clifton Park: Delmar
Triple Threat – http://www.rockwall.com/FireDepartment/inspections.asp