Diagram Helps Both Plant And Municipal Fire Fighters

Diagram Helps Both Plant And Municipal Fire Fighters

Industrial Fire Safety

Fire is discovered and the alarm is promptly turned in. We hope the fire brigade members, especially the new men and those from plant departments other than the one the fire is in, have a knowledge of where it is and what might be involved. But do they? The municipal fire department arrives. Do these firemen know the building, its gates, construction, hazards and fire protection? They should, but the possibility exists that they do not.

What then can each and every industrial, mercantile, commercial and institutional facility do to make sure everyone knows where to go and what might be involved?

The answer is a simple but informative sketch or diagram of an occupancy that is in the hands of the fire brigade or fire department before an emergency occurs. This will eliminate most uncertainties and considerably increase the fire extinguishing proficiency of those responding to an emergency.

Need for a diagram: Why a diagram is needed has been touched on briefly in past articles. But again, let us emphasize the necessity for the plant brigade and the municipal fire department to have prior knowledge of a facility. Many small losses have become needlessly catastrophic because of a lack of basic knowledge of the good and bad fire safety features of a facility. Many lives have been lost and many plant and municipal fire fighters have been injured because they didn’t know about the hazards present (FIRE ENGINEERING, June 1967, “Industry and Fire Service Gain by Working Together”).

The form this diagram should take depends on the talent of the man who does the job. It can be a line drawing, like a building plan, looking down on the facility. Any scale can be used, but a scale of 1 inch to 50 feet is preferred because the details are large enough to be readable. If the skill is available, a side view or cross section can be included to show different heights of buildings or sections. These cross sections can also show occupancies by floors.

In the article referred to above, we stated “The fire department also should prepare a plan showing the location of hydrants,” and that, “insurance companies and rating bureaus can be of great assistance in preparing this plan.” In other words, the preparation of such a pre-fire diagram can be simple if everyone involved assists each other in completing it instead of waiting for Joe to do it.

Items to show on diagram: What information should this diagram contain? This we feel should include the following:

  1. The physical property layout should show the sizes of all buildings and floors to scale with the dimensions stated in feet (such as 300 x 400 feet) and their occupancy in general. If cross sections are made, the same information should be given for individual floors and sections. Also, fences and gates and their heights should be shown. Buildings should be drawn in relation to streets, and exposure hazards from adjoining facilities belonging to others should be indicated.
  2. The location of fire doors and the construction of exterior and interior walls, fire walls, floors, roofs, sheds and yard buildings should be indicated. The type of construction should be stated where applicable, such as fire-resistive (there is no such thing as fireproof), masonry, brick, heavy timber, concrete, metal or wood. This section should also contain, depending on how detailed the plan is, other items such as stairs, elevators and enclosures. Boiler rooms, stacks and special features, such as transformer locations, electrical feeds and fuel tanks, to name a few also should be on the diagram.
  3. 3. Fire protection, both public and private, exterior and interior, must be set forth to complete the picture of knowledge being assembled. Public items to show are street mains and their size, hydrants and fire alarm boxes. Private protection items include yard mains and their sizes, hydrants and cabinets or houses, including their equipment, such as the size and number of lengths of hose, nozzles and other accessories. Other things to spot on a diagram are fire department connections to private mains, fire pumps, ground tanks and elevated gravity tanks, with the sizes and capacities stated. The distance between the bottom of a gravity tank and the ground needs to be indicated. All control valves in any system must be shown as they are vital in controlling water for a fire or during a water supply emergency or interruption. Ponds, rivers and creeks should be indicated as these can be drafting locations for pumpers and can be primary or secondary water sources.

The interior diagram notations could include hose stations, fire alarm boxes, extinguishers, sprinkler systems, wet or dry, plus special hazard protection items using dry chemical, carbon dioxide or other spot extinguishment mediums.

Symbols for diagram: Symbols are in general use in fire insurance diagrams and can be used on your plan, but it is most difficult to set them down here. A sample would be a circle with AS in it, which would indicate automatic sprinklers, or a NS in a diamond, which would indicate a non-sprinklered building. A fire alarm box can be shown by FA in a circle. For simplicity, we recommend the use of words in describing a facet of a diagram.

When this diagram has been completed, it must be circulated to he of value. Therefore, we recommend that you give it to your fire brigade members, your local fire department and also post it at several locations on the premises. □ □

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