Fire Inspections by Uniformed Force
The inspections as conducted by members of the uniformed force of the fire department are one of the most essential features of Fire Prevention in an up-to-date fire department. In fact, this work covers both the fire-fighting and the fire-preventing sides of the department’s work.
The work is essential to Fire Prevention in that no one is better able to point out and correct fire hazards—sometimes obscure to the lay mind—than the chief and his men. The visit of the members of the department, too, in uniform carries with it a semblance of authority that is not present when inspections are made by men in plain clothes. It is human to be impressed with the sight of a uniform and with the authority which it signifies. The periodical inspection by the members of the department means a constant supervision of the fire risks of the city or town. It means the removal of hazards that otherwise would result in serious fire and it also means the bringing constantly before the people the necessity to take proper precautions to guard against fire.
The latter point is fully as important as the former. If the people of a municipality are led to think along terms of Fire Prevention the reduction in the fire hazard will be very apparent and will lighten the labors of the fire department to a remarkable degree.
But, entirely aside from this importance to Fire Prevention, the proper fire inspection by the uniformed force bears a very necessary relation to fire fighting. The visiting of factories, industrial plants, office buildings and other business establishments by the members enables them to gain an intimate knowledge of the layout and structural defects, exposures and hazards of all buildings in their district. This includes the positions of stairways, shafts, exits, etc.; the conditions that would prevail in fighting fires in these buildings; the position of standpipes, etc. Many departments keep card indexes of buildings, containing such facts gleaned by the members in their inspections which are kept up to date as re-inspections are made and hazards corrected. By these means the officers and members of departments can study in their leisure hours fire conditions in the districts they cover, and when a fire does occur the knowledge thus gained of the important points in connection with the building involved will be invaluable in quickly understanding the situation and acting accordingly.
Some very valuable hints in regard to inspections are given in an article by Captain De Graves in this week’s issue on page 343. While written from the Canadian standpoint, the paper contains much that will be found of value to the American fire-fighters as well.