Inspections are key to fire prevention
Special to The Union
Fire prevention knows no fire season; it’s a year round job.
Our goal with fire prevention is to minimize the risk of life and property loss from fire. We realize that not all fires can be prevented, but if people maintain their property in a fire-safe manner, the impact of a fire will be minimized.
Fire prevention personnel do a wide variety of inspections ranging from day care centers to facilities that store or use hazardous materials. Homes, once they are built, typically are not inspected except to ensure compliance with California’s defensible space requirements.
Facilities, such as schools, apartments, health care facilities and places of assembly are mandated by state law to be inspected by the fire department at least once each year. Others are inspected as time permits, but our goal is to inspect all businesses annually.
We review plans for commercial and industrial buildings and fire protection systems, and visit the construction sites to ensure compliance with the fire and safety codes.
We also observe the testing of protection systems such as alarms and sprinklers at various stages of the project. After the project is completed, protection systems are inspected on a regular basis.
We also review and comment on applications for land uses such as parcel maps and subdivisions.
Our engine companies also make fire safety inspections – typically, office spaces, businesses and small restaurants. They also prepare a pre-fire plan, which includes drawings of the building and identification of the location of control valves and other important components of fire protection systems.
These visits are important to both the engine companies and the business, as minor fire safety violations can be identified and corrected.
It also allows the engine companies to familiarize themselves with the structural and operational aspects of the various buildings they would respond to in the event of an emergency.
An important part of fire prevention is our public education program.
These programs include personal contacts, fire station visits with individuals and small groups, classroom presentations, visits to school assembles, health and safety fairs, the Nevada County Fair and home improvement shows.
We now have a fire safety trailer that lets us take the classroom to the public.
Fire prevention also deals with complaints regarding fire safety and potential fire hazards.
Most complaints we receive are valid, and we work to resolve the hazards. You should always report a potential hazard so that it may be evaluated.
Many times, a resident will complain about a neighbor, such as the condition of the neighboring parcel or an activity that may be taking place, and we will attempt to get the neighbors to work together to abate the hazard or resolve the issue.
Most fire prevention personnel also investigate fires to determine the origin and cause of fires.
If the cause of the fire is determined to be an intentional act, we will work closely with local law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office to identify and prosecute those responsible.
For accidental fires, if a defective appliance or piece of equipment is responsible for the fire, we work with various agencies including the manufacturer and the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ensure the appropriate action is taken to identify and correct the defect.
Vern Canon is a battalion chief and fire marshal for Nevada County Consolidated Fire Protection District.
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