Monday, April 23, 2018

Seven Disciplines for Effective FPO's



The two biggest challenges faced by fire departments and fire prevention organizations around the country are budgets and personnel, specifically, having enough funds and personnel to provide essential fire prevention services.
How can a community build a functioning fire prevention organization? How can the organization prove its value? What programs and features should be offered? Where are the organization’s best efforts and dollars spent? How can the fire prevention organization, programs, staffing and budget be justified? The seven disciplines presented in the Fire Prevention Blueprint will address these challenges and can serve as a manual for the establishing, organizing and managing the fire prevention functions of a fire department.
But, the key to success in these situations, as in any emergency situation, is to have a plan of action, and just start working the plan. This book is that plan!
Whether you are taking over a fire prevention organization, you are creating a brand new organization, or if your existing organization needs to be restructured, the Fire Prevention Blueprint is your guide. Based on historical context, current needs, best practices, published standards, and successful fire prevention programs, this guide presents the seven disciplines that must be in place for fire prevention organization success. Following these disciplines will lead to an effective and efficient fire prevention organization.
Discipline can be defined as, "an organization’s responsibility to provide the direction needed to satisfy the goals and objectives it has identified." These seven disciplines are structured to start with identification and creation of the organization’s goals and objectives, and then the practical implementation to accomplish those objectives.
The seven disciplines outlined in the Fire Prevention Blueprint, are:
Discipline #1: Know the community.
Discipline #2: Have a plan.
Discipline #3: Enforce the code.
Discipline #4: Conduct plan review and field inspections.
Discipline #5: Investigate fire incidents.
Discipline #6: Educate the public.
Discipline #7: Be adequately staffed.
The object of this guide is to provide the framework and basic blueprint. The Fire Prevention Blueprint will empower you to:
    • Identify essential fire prevention and life safety functions
    • Understand how to utilize effective systems and processes
    • Create a plan of action for building or restructuring a fire prevention organization

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fire Prevention Blueprint

Attention, Fire Prevention Professionals!




Build an Effective and Efficient Fire Prevention Organization!


Create an effective fire prevention organization by:
  • Identifying essential fire prevention and life safety functions
  • Understanding how to utilize effective systems and processes
  • Creating a plan of action for building or restructuring a fire prevention organization
Are you a fire protection professional - inspector, engineer, safety director, fire marshal, or AHJ - that is faced with the challenge of doing more with less? Are you tired of being reactive instead of proactive in your prevention efforts? Do you feel overwhelmed by the tasks that can never seem to get accomplished? Do you wonder if your team is focusing on the right functions and activities? Is your vision for your department unfulfilled? You need a clear plan of action. This is your action plan!


Identify the seven disciplines for effectiveness and efficiency.
    Based on historical context, current needs, best practices, published standards, and successful fire prevention programs, the Fire Prevention Blueprint identifies seven disciplines critical to the effectiveness of any fire prevention organization.
  1. Know your community.
  2. Have a plan.
  3. Enforce the code.
  4. Conduct plan review and field inspections.
  5. Investigate fire incidents.
  6. Educate the public.
  7. Be adequately staffed.
Describe the key functions, features, and components of these disciplines.
    The Fire Prevention Blueprint  addresses the most important questions and highlights the major features of these seven disciplines.
  • What are the key elements you must know and understand about your community?. 
  • What is a strategy? How can you create one for your community and fire prevention organization?
  • How often should you be inspecting the various structures within your community?
  • Do you have a clear understanding of  the functions and benefits of plan review? Are you fully aware of your role on the building commissioning team?
  • Do you know how to maximize the data gathered from origin and cause investigations?
  • Are you providing the most needed, in-demand, and valuable public education programs? 
  • Why do people want to work for your organization? How can you attract them? How can you keep them?
Apply practical guidance to implement each discipline. 
    Application of the Fire Prevention Blueprint will enable you to effectively establish, organize, and manage, the fire prevention functions of your organization.  You will be empowered to implement these seven disciplines by:
  • Understanding where to get data from, and how to use it.
  • Learning how to structure a fire protection and life safety strategy for your community, and form a long-range plan for your fire prevention organization.
  • Properly categorizing facility inspections based on hazard risk, operations, and construction features.
  • Building an integrated testing plan.
  • Following a simple 6-step process for fire scene investigation.
  • Knowing the 10-step process for selecting public education programs
  • Learning the basic skills for public speaking and teaching.
  • Applying Peter Drucker’s 3-step process for time management to your fire prevention organization.
  • Following the NFPA recommended 5-step process to determine and justify staffing needs.

Utilize multiple tools, resources, and references for further study and application.
    The goal of  Fire Prevention Blueprint is to provide a basic framework on which to build your organization.  There is an abundance of resources available on each of these seven disciplines and their subtopics. The best tools and resources are referenced in this guide:
  • Via footnotes in the text.
  • A bonus annex section. 
  • A website with direct links to all referenced tools and documents. 
It has taken me more than a decade in this industry to clarify this system for fire prevention organization operation. When I sat down to write this book, I simply wrote down the information I wish I would have had over ten years ago, when I started out on this fire prevention quest!


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Monday, April 16, 2018

How to Build an Effective Fire Prevention Organization



The fire service is an organization that has become known for doing more with less. Less tools, less equipment, less personnel, and less money. Many fire prevention organizations have too few dedicated fire prevention personnel to cover the many square feet of space or miles of geography within their communities. Fire prevention organizations are responsible for the tasks of life safety inspections, fire protection system inspections and testing, plan reviews, investigations, public education, and myriad administrative tasks. All this while also being expected to stay abreast of new technologies, code developments, legislative changes, and planning for the future of the fire prevention organization and its role within the community.   

This workload creates a reactive environment.  One in which fire prevention organization and personnel are functioning only to respond to the most emergent issue, “what needs to be done now”.  These organizations run the risk of being able to only accomplish the minimum required tasks, or less. These conditions can lead to critical fire protection and life safety issues that are allowed to develop until they become a major incident, which results in loss of property or worse, loss of life.

Fire protection professionals - inspectors, investigators, engineers, building safety directors,  the Fire Marshal - did not get into this field to barely get by, or to race to the bottom, or to just work to meet “minimum” standards, or “try their best”, or to do things “the way they’ve always been done”, to simply maintain the status quo. You entered the field because you had a vision to change your world or community by protecting property and saving lives from fire loss.

With the many tasks, responsibilities, and requirements of the fire prevention organization how can this vision be realized? How can the fire prevention organization and its personnel be best utilized to  ensure that they are functioning at optimal effectiveness? Can they know that they are focusing on the right tasks and activities? The solution is a clear plan of action that identifies and provides for the most effective and efficient methods for performing essential fire prevention functions.

With the right plan of action and a laser-like focus on essential tasks your vision for your community and organization can be realized. Your organization can be transformed from just getting by, doing the bare minimum, trying to stay “afloat”,  into a purpose driven, forward advancing, progress making, community changing, organization!

The Fire Prevention Blueprint is your action plan! This book reveals the seven disciplines of effective and efficient fire prevent organizations, and provides practical guidance and resources for their implementation. Fire Prevention Blueprint: Seven Disciplines for Building Effective Fire Prevention Organizations accomplishes this by identifying essential fire prevention and life safety functions, understanding how to utilize effective systems and processes, and providing the framework for creating a structured and organized plan of action.

Don’t let your community become the next mass fire casualty or large fire loss headline. Buy the Fire Prevention Blueprint and transform your fire prevention organization into your vision of what you know it can be!

For more information, resources, and to order the book, visit:

Monday, April 9, 2018

Fire Protection Requirements for Rack Storage


What are the requirements for rack storage? Are in-rack sprinklers required? How can rack storage sprinkler requirements be determined?

Fire protection requirements for rack storage are addressed in NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems.  

  • Chapter 13, Protection of Miscellaneous and Low-Piled Storage
  • Chapter 14, Protection for Palletized, Solid-Piled, Bin Box, Shelf, or Back-to-Back Shelf Storage of Class I through Class IV Commodities
  • Chapter 15, Protection for Palletized, Solid-Piled, Bin Box, Shelf, or Back-to-Back Shelf Storage of Plastic and Rubber Commodities
  • Chapter 16, Protection of Rack Storage of Class I through Class IV Commodities
  • Chapter 17, Protection of Rack Storage of Plastic and Rubber Commodities

To determine which chapter to go to for fire protection requirements, there are three questions that must be answered:
  1. What is stored?
  2. How is it stored?
  3. How high is it stored?

“What is stored” refers to the items hazard and commodity classification. “How is it stored” refers to the storage method, or medium (pallets, bins, etc.), and container type (wood, plastic, etc.).  “How high is it stored” refers to the height of stored items.


If the stored items are classified as miscellaneous or low-piled, refer to Chapter 13 for fire protection requirements. “Miscellaneous storage”  does not exceed 12 feet and is incidental to the occupancy (see, 13:3.9.1.18 for additional requirements). “Low-piled storage” is storage that is up to 12 feet in height.  Storage medium for low-piled storage can include, solid-piled, palletized, rack storage, bin box, and shelf storage. Fire sprinkler design requirements are outlined in section 13.2.

If the stored items are classified as a Class I through Class IV commodity, and palletized, solid-piled, bin box, shelf, or back-to-back shelf storage Chapter 14 requirements apply. Fire protection requirements will vary based on height of stored items. Sprinkler design requirements for storage up to 12 feet is outlined in section 14.2.3. Storage over 12 feet is defined in section 14.2.4. It is in Chapter 14 that we first see “encapsulated” storage. This refers to items that are wrapped in plastic sheeting, or pallets that are covered with plastic sheeting. If encapsulated storage is utilized and it is between 15-20 feet, the sprinkler design requirements of section 14.2.5 should be followed.

If the stored items and rack shelving are classified as plastic or rubber commodities, and palletized, solid-piled, bin box, shelf, or back-to-back shelf storage Chapter 15 requirements apply. If the plastics are Group A and do not exceed 5 feet in height then the protection requirements of Chapter 13 can apply. For all plastic or rubber commodities that exceed 5 feet in height, section 15.2.2 outlines the fire protection requirements. For clarity and protection requirements the decision tree provided in figure 15.2.2.1 of this standard should be referenced.

If the stored items are a Class I through Class IV commodity and on rack storage the protection criteria of Chapter 16 shall be met. If these commodities are stored up to 25 feet in height the sprinkler requirements or section 16.2 are to be met.  If the they are stored over 25 feet high, section 16.3 should be followed for protection requirements and design criteria.  If the overhead sprinkler system does not meet the minimum design requirements for protection of the commodity alternate provisions and options are provided in section 16.1.2.4.

If the stored items are plastic or rubber commodities and on rack storage the protection requirements of Chapter 17 shall be enforced. This section has a decision tree that must be followed based on the group of plastics being protected, as well as alternate provisions for systems that do not meet minimum design requirements. If plastic or rubber commodities on rack storage is encountered, this chapter should be closely examined.  The plastic or rubber commodity should be further broken down by answering the original three questions: what type of plastic is stored? How is this plastic or rubber stored? How high is the plastic or rubber stored?  Fire protection requirements and design criteria will differ based on the answers to these questions.