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A pre-fire plan can help save property and protect people

August 13, 2018

Pre-incident planning as a joint venture between the fire department and property management team can make a major difference in the extent and outcome of a fire.

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An unfortunate fact of life for any business is that despite all the investments made to manage risk, reduce losses and protect property and people, a fire can still occur. Good risk-management preparation is vital not only to prevent fires, but also to control and limit the damages that might occur. A key tool in this process is a pre-fire plan written to assume that a blaze is underway and the moment has come to take active measures to protect people and property.

The pre-fire plan must begin with a complete understanding of the construction, occupancy and floor plan of a building. This knowledge will empower firefighters and other emergency response personnel to execute a rapid and effective response and a more positive outcome.

Major components of any pre-fire plan should include:

  • The layout of the building and surrounding property, including parking lot entrances, building entrances, building key box location, hydrant locations, nearby structures, potential exposure to wildfires, etc.
  • A complete floor plan of each level of the building, including locations of hazardous materials and processes, flammable materials, heating and air conditioning equipment, smoke detectors, utility shutoffs, and elevators
  • Pertinent structural features such as building size, height, construction and fire-rated walls
  • Description of occupancies
  • Site features such as occupants with special rescue needs, unoccupied floors, daytime and nighttime occupancy loads, etc.
  • Alarm system and related fire-safety information
  • Hydrant information (“fire flow”)
  • Building fire protection systems

Written fire-response plans must be framed in clear, unambiguous and easy-to-understand language to be as effective as possible. Planning documents must also be readily accessible to fire officials and should be updated on a regular basis. Property owners should periodically consult with local fire department and emergency services officials to communicate material changes to the construction of a building, the configuration of the surrounding property or the building occupancy. A walking tour by members of the local fire department is also a good idea.

Pre-incident planning should be a joint venture between the fire department and the property management team. A fire officer may be the expert in fire safety and firefighting, but the property management personnel are the experts on the building. The planning process must necessarily be collaborative and ongoing. A successful collaboration can save lives and property.

Read the white paper, Develop a pre-fire plan to help save your property and protect your people.

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