Make NFPA 1620 Plans a Reality for Your Fire Agency

  • Posted on July 15, 2019

In firefighting, property inspection plays a key role served by fire departments in their communities, creating not only safer communities on a daily basis but also paving the way for more efficient fire responses and reduced loss of property and life.

While city planners and building managers benefit greatly from property inspections, they’re vitally important when it comes to fire suppression and containment. During an emergency response, property inspections give an incident commander a range of information from the location of exits to the types of hazardous materials onsite. Knowing these key details can help minimize damage and keep teams safe.

About the NFPA 1620: Standard for Pre-Incident Planning

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publishes more than 300 consensus codes and standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire. Among these recommended practices is the NFPA 1620 standard which covers the criteria for developing pre-incident plans to help first responders effectively manage emergencies to maximize protection for “occupants, responding personnel, property, and the environment.”

Creating an Accurate Property Picture for Pre-Incident Planning

Many fire departments find that they can use some assistance in creating an effective and maintainable planning process and system for pre-incident planning. A property, especially a large building with complex contents, could represent a quite lengthy list of property characteristics. Not only do inspectors have to account for fire and life safety systems such as alarms and sprinklers, they must also account for a building’s use, how many occupants it has on a daily basis, and other key factors. Here is a list of information included in suggested pre-incident plans :

  • Company name, address, and driving directions
  • Occupancy Classifications (such as property use like residential, commercial, etc.)
  • Access barriers such as narrow bridges, steep roads, RR crossings
  • Access Code for gates/doors, Knox Box location
  • Aerial photos of the site
  • Number of stories, building length and width, site plan, floor plans
  • Building construction and materials
  • Hazardous materials present and location
  • Water supply information
  • Defensible space around the building including turn-around capability
  • Typical occupancy (day/night) and any occupants requiring special assistance
  • Location of both fire alarm systems and fire protection systems (sprinklers, etc.)

Add to this list the need to ensure your inspectors are all documenting their inspections in similar ways, with similar verbiage and areas of focus. Whether you have a seasoned veteran conducting the inspection, or a newbie, you must be able to trust that he or she has accurately completed all the steps to make your pre-inspection data reliable. Your team’s safety ultimately depends on it.

Working Smarter, Not Harder

The last thing any inspector wants to do is duplicate his or her efforts by having to manually transfer the inspection data from paper or from one software tool to a different tool. This not only increases the chance for new errors but wastes valuable time.

Additionally, property inspectors, especially in growing cities, are already facing challenges from keeping up with demand, and they often lead their agencies and even their cities in the amount of costly overtime required to keep up just with annual property checks and new properties.

The good news is that fire agencies today can utilize industry-specific software tools designed specifically for property inspection and incident pre-planning, making the NFPA 1620 standards a goal within reach. Effective pre-planning and inspection software includes features such as:

  • The ability to create configurable checklists,
  • Access to unlimited fire code sets and historical data
  • CAMEO and NFIRS integration
  • User-friendly interface
  • Scheduling capabilities
  • Ability to add attachments and capture signatures

These features allow each agency to create a customize inspection process in a checklist-like format, ensuring that an inspector has completed all required fields before moving on to the next step. You can set available terms within the tool to ensure everyone on your team is using the same verbiage to describe similar items, saving time and confusion later when the data is pulled.

Additionally, easy access to searchable fire code sets makes the onsite inspections more efficient, while inspectors can also view historical data on the property, including past occupants and code violations. The tools also allow users to track how much time is spent performing the inspection, including travel time, helping make an argument for increased staffing if needed at budget time. These are just a few of the features that make inspections more efficient, and the resulting reports more useful during fire incidents.

Finding the Right Inspections Solution

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and obtain your own properties and inspection solution, you’ll need a reliable checklist of features to ensure you are getting the best tool for your budget. Download the free checklist, 7 Features Needed from Pre-Planning and Inspections Software, now.

With evolving properties and inspections software, fire departments can more effectively plan and execute inspections, improve emergency responders’ occupational safety and situational awareness during an emergency, and use data to show how inspections impact their agency.

Download the checklist, 7 Features Needed from Preplanning and Inspections Software.