The occurrence of fire in various situations is a phenomenon that arises naturally of out of technical faults. Examples of scenarios where fires occur naturally include forests and rangelands where wild fires are frequent (USFA, 2000). On the other hand, most fires that occur within building premises are caused by technical faults (USFA, 2000). The overriding factor in the effects of fires, whether occurring naturally or caused by technical problems, is that the fires cause immense damages (USFA, 2000). A major problem in dealing with effects of fire is that most fire occurrences are never described quantitatively.
Perkins and Benoit (1996) reiterate this point by noting that most fires are not described and precisely, many occurrences are not well documented. In most cases, observers (if there are no causalities) describe the fire as running, smoldering, spotting or crowning (Perkins & Benoit, 1996). Nevertheless, there is usually a conflict over the amount of work that firefighters do when they put out fire or fail to do so. The problem often arises since it is difficult to determine the magnitude of fires (Perkins & Benoit, 1996)
While fire fighters are charged with the responsibility of suppressing fires, there is usually a dilemma when they deal with fires of different intensity (USFA, 2000). For instance, one scenario may involve a small fire that is easily extinguished while in another scenario, the fire may be so huge that it damages a whole floor before it is finally put out or is never put out at all. The dilemma arises in terms of determining the worth of property damaged and the value of property that is salvaged after the fire.
The situation becomes even more convoluted if deaths arise because of the fire outbreak since lives cannot be measured (USFA, 2000). According to (USFA, 2000), the unavailability of standard qualitative descriptors limits personnel’s knowledge of fire and as a result it is almost impossible or very difficult to communicate the results of various assessments in different fire scenarios. Along this line, there is need to design a program that will ensure that both firefighters and the public understand the consequences of a fire outbreak and the events that take place during and after the effect of the fire.
These include but are not limited to quick response to avert the spread of the fire. Since the responsibility to put out fire is usually left to skilled firefighters, there is need to ensure that they are better equipped to not only put out fires but also ensure that lives and property are safeguarded from the adverse effects of fire. This paper therefore presents a measurement or control program to ensure that firefighters are quipped not only to suppress fires but also to be able to assess the possible damage and saves made as a result of their efforts in response to fire outbreaks. Objectives of the program
The objectives of the program are to ensure that firefighters attain a professional level of fire suppression and are able to provide their services duly to the public. In addition, the fire fighters should be able to determine the magnitude of services needed in suppressing different fires in order to respond accordingly. In has been common in past that firefighters either responded to large fires while ill equipped and were therefore not in a position to extinguish some fire; or responded overwhelmingly to some fires, thereby recording a significant waste of resources (Perkins & Benoit, 1996).
In regard to the above scenario, the program to be devised should detail the nature of different buildings and their location to fire stations (Perkins & Benoit, 1996). In addition, the fire stations should keep records of the nature of fires that could occur in each building with respect to the nature of the building and its wares. If this measure is implemented, firefighters will be able to respond to different fires armed with the appropriate fire extinguishers as well as possible techniques that would greatly help in saving lives (Perkins & Benoit, 1996).
Setting up the program The following are some of the steps to be followed according to “The Urban Institute. ” Step 1: List of issues to be handled There are a numbers of issues to be tackled, including general building and equipment safety (Perkins & Benoit, 1996). The program will handle issues that involve safety of people such as evacuation techniques and simple methods to suppress small fires. It is notable that victims of fire accidents are usually not informed on what steps to take in case of fire outbreaks such a ringing the alarm to inform others to escape (USFA, 2000).
With regard to fire fighters, they will be taught how to deliver most in terms of their services. This will involve importance of using fire outfit in the process of putting out fires. Emphasis will also be put on use of drinks by fire fighters to avoid dehydration and the need for general fitness. This will aimed at avoiding incidences such as that in which two firefighters were killed while fighting a huge fire in West Virginia on February 20, 2009 (Waterhouse, 2009). Step 2: Participants in the program
The program will include a wide range of participants including firefighters, building owners, students, homeowners, firm managers, staff representatives, the police and other authorities such as the United States Fire Administration for citizens (USFA, 2000). All the participants will discuss the various hazards related with fire and how different fires can be suppressed to mitigate the damages on property and lives. In addition to the discussions, USFA will provide important information relating to fire safety and control. Along this line, USFA has been working with other Federal agencies to improve fire and emergency response.
Through the control program, education will reach various organizations via public fire educators. Step 3: Overall Schedule A draft of the schedule will include points related to the Incident Action Plan, which is prepared in consideration of various factors such as firefighter safety, the current strategies employed in suppressing fires, and the strategies that should be used to improve the situation (USFA, 2000). The schedule will include measures of the various assets that are at risk of fire such as buildings, vehicles and so forth, as well as the appropriate mechanisms for suppressing different types of fires.
In addition, the schedule will contain details of fire suppression and equipment applicable in each area. More importantly, cost estimates will be made to evaluate the cost effectiveness of each method to be used, as well as the projected success of each technique to avoid mishaps. Deciding what to measure and how it will be measured Step 4: Mission, specific objectives, and clients related to the program The mission of the program is to have a better capacity to handle fires and mitigating the adverse effects of fires. As mentioned in the general objectives, the .
program is aimed at ensuring that firefighters are professionally armed to control fires, but more specifically this program will include everyone since effective mitigation of the effects of fires requires concerted effort. The major clients in the program will include owners of high-risk organizations such as production industries, oil refineries, filling stations and other related industries. Other important clients will include institutions that need real time firefighting services such as airports (USFA, 2000). Additionally, other clients will include homeowners.
Step 5: Possible outcomes of the program With improved awareness about fire among all stakeholders, the effect of control the program is likely to be revealed in better firefighting techniques and ultimately, a reduction in losses and injuries due to fires (Perkins & Benoit, 1996). In addition, the skills acquired by various stakeholders will improve the capacity to determine losses and values of property salvaged during fire incidents and therefore eliminate the tendency of dilemma over losses due to fire (Smeby, 2006).
Other issues that will arise from the program include better safety in buildings in terms of creation of fire exists, implementation of better evacuation techniques and so forth. This will ensure that firefighters will have less work to do at fire scenes due to better coordination with the public. Step 6: Indicators of the program’s outcomes The outcomes of the program will be indicated by various aspects such as better tackling of fires, better evacuation techniques and a decline in the number of casualties in fire incidents and property damage (Smeby, 2006).
The effectiveness of the program will also be reflected in a better approach taken by firefighters in dealing with fires such as using asbestos material as their protective devices and carrying out of regular fire drills to make creates to improve preparedness and awareness about all kind of fires (USFA, 2000). The improved techniques to be used by firefighters will include use of balancing access devices and other modern methods in dealing with huge fires (Smeby, 2006).
In addition to better preparedness to tackle fires, the results of the program will be reflected through harmonized approaches in dealing with fires unlike the current situation where only firefighters are usually well armed and skilled to fight fires (Smeby, 2006). Step 7: Data sources for each indicator Indicator sources for the program indicators will be obtained from different areas including assessment of the number of cases of fire, the numbers of fires put out through firefighters’ efforts, numbers of cases where property is salvaged and so forth.
It will also be prudent to collect information regarding instances where the public rather than firefighters extinguish fires, as this would give the net efforts applied by firefighters. Information about each indicator will also be sourced in relation to the amount of effort and resources expended in putting out fires over a given period of time and the estimated value of property salvaged by the effort. Step 8: Important client service characteristics
With the new techniques in handling fires, firefighters will receive more recognition by clients such as high-risk industries, who will hire their services more consistently (Smeby, 2006). Professional fire fighting firms will particularly be interested in clients’ details such as nature of operations and availability of space to access different areas in case of fire incidents, general safety of clients’ staff (Perkins & Benoit, 1996) and so forth.
The above information will be important to firefighters whenever fires break out in premises of clients whose details they have. Along the same line, this implies that there will be ample room to estimate the amount of loss that results due to fires as well as the value of property that is salvaged by comparing the original infrastructures and the remaining ones after incidences of fires (Smeby, 2006). Step 9: Pilot test and implementation of the procedures
The strategies by firefighting firms will be put on trial through frequent fire drills since this is the most appropriate measure to evaluate the efficiency of fire fighting. The fire drills will be conducted randomly in various buildings in different locations in order to test the level of preparedness by various authorities and individuals in dealing with fires. The random drills will be aimed at evaluating the safety of buildings and the efficiency of various individuals in case of a real fire outbreak.
In addition, fire drills will check the effectiveness of the various equipment used in firefighting and therefore enable evaluation of weaknesses involved. Other drills will involve false attempts to call the firefighters informing them of nonexistent fires in order to evaluate their timing, response and ability to deal with emergencies. Analysis of the data collected Step 10: Examining the collected data The collected dated will be useful in evaluating the loopholes that exist among firefighters as well as within the public in dealing with fire disasters.
The information will be used as follows: • The preparedness of individuals to escape from burning buildings will be determined by appraising their ability to use emergency exits, safety ladders and so forth instead of jamming the conventional entry and exit points. • The data collected about firefighters will be analyzed against their ability to control infernos in expensive premises and therefore facilitate trust in them or allow for consideration of other options Step 11: Reporting the findings
The findings of various expeditions and experiences such as fire drills and evaluations of different players will be presented to various authorities such as USFA, company heads, fire station commanders and so forth so that that a breakdown of the information can reach the public, students, and staffs in various companies and organizations. This information will be synthesized in a manner such that it will make it easy to determine losses incurred in fires. With all . the information, it will be easy to control fires that would otherwise be difficult to control or avoid them altogether.
Step 12: Clarification on unexpected findings Unexpected findings such as inconsistency of data regarding possible losses will be clarified through further consultation with the concerned parties such as property owners and firefighters (Smeby, 2006). In addition, other instances such as untimely arrival of firefighters at fire scenes will be checked by possible addition of fire stations in built environments (Smeby, 2006). Putting the results into use Step 13: Application of the outcome information in improving services
Having considered and implemented all the discussed points, the final point will be to ensure that all the key ideas are closely monitored to ensure that all players are up to date with the relevant information. This will be accompanied by necessary corrective measures to ensure that all deviations from the anticipated occurrence are dealt with amicably. Conclusion Although it is difficult to devise a single measurement technique to determine the magnitude of fires and the resultant losses, it is possible to for people to be prepared in term of knowing the responsibility of each party at a fire scene.
This is possible by designing a functional management or control program that will ensure that not only are firefighters professionally equipped but also they play a significant role in putting out fires.
References Perkins, K. & Benoit, J. (1996). The future of volunteer fire and rescue services: Taming the dragons of change. Stillwater, OK: Oklahoma State University, Fire Protection Publications Smeby, L. C. (2006). Fire & emergency service administration. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett
The Urban Institute. Key issues in outcome management. Retrieved on 23 February 2009, from: http://www. urban. org/uploadedPDF/310776_KeySteps. pdf United States Fire Administration (USFA, 2000) (2000). FEMA , guide to developing effective standard operating procedures for fire and EMS departments. Emmitsburg, MD: FEMA Waterhouse, M (2009). Two West Virginia Firefighters Killed in Blaze. Retrieved on 23 February 2009, from: http://cms. firehouse. com/content/article/article. jsp? sectionId=39&id=62
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