Fire suppression is not the only way to combat fires. A well-planned and executed fire prevention and inspection program is a less expensive and more effective way to accomplish the goal of the fire service. The goal is to minimize the risk of life and property loss from fire by observing, making recommendations, and subsequently controlling or eliminating hazardous conditions. The inspection program can make major strides toward accomplishing this goal before a fire occurs. The inspection program also helps educate occupants in ways to control hazards, in proper methods of evacuation, and in overall fire safety practices.
Fire prevention inspections are the single, most important non-firefighting activity performed by the fire department. Often the most important decisions and actions performed by fire suppression forces occur before a fire breaks out. These actions are preplanning, developing standard operating procedures, training, maintaining equipment in readiness, and are critical if the fire department is to perform efficiently and effectively at the fire scene.
Establishing a favorable atmosphere plays an important role in conducting inspections. The inspector's attitude toward the inspection itself also plays a part in establishing a favorable atmosphere. A positive attitude will usually encourage a positive reaction from the occupant. This will help to promote a high degree of cooperation and compliance from the occupant. Scheduling the inspection also helps the inspector make a good initial impression.
When the initial inspection is complete, the fire inspector discusses the results with the person in authority for the property. The purpose of this closing interview is to note good conditions as well as discuss the conditions that need correcting. The inspectors discuss violations in general terms, indicating that specific details will be outlined in a written report, which will be sent to the property owner. In the closing interview the inspectors express thanks for any courtesies extended, and should another inspection be necessary, the owner of the property is informed at that time.
Some general fire safety matters that are noted during a fire inspection which apply to all occupancies are ensuring good housekeeping practices, regulating smoking, controlling the use of flammable decorations, controlling electrical hazards, regulating open burning, and maintaining access for fire equipment and personnel.
In performing the role as a company inspector you can impact the safety of more people in your performance than most other operations. The company inspection is designed to insure that existing buildings have, properly maintained their fire safety systems to help enhance the life safety of the occupants. The company inspection program helps to meet a couple of goals in the department's mission statement.
Educate to Prevent Harm" - As an inspector in the field when meeting the owner/occupant of the buildings you are educating the public in the proper maintenance and testing of their buildings life safety systems .
"Protect" - The inspection program strives to create a safe environment for the citizens of the community, but just as important it is striving to create a safe environment for the fire fighters who must respond. Through properly operating fire detection, suppression and notification systems the responding emergency responders may have a great deal of the fire problem detected in the early stages.