Make NFPA 1620 Plans a Reality for Your Fire Agency

ESO Staff

Property inspection is a key role served by fire agencies 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. Knowing the most intricate details about a property – from the location of exits to the types of hazardous chemicals onsite – help a fire agency plan the safest and most efficient response should an emergency occur.

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

Creating an Accurate Property Picture

To attain this best practice criteria, many fire agencies find they can use some assistance is creating an effective and maintainable process and system. A property, especially a large building with complex contents, could represent a quite lengthy list of property characteristics. In fact, the amount of suggested pre-inspection info can potentially be overwhelming, including:

  • Company name, address, and driving directions
  • 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
  • Fire protection and alarm systems

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. You 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.

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

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