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Home : News : News
NEWS | March 16, 2017

The mainstay of the fire prevention program is the inspection process

By Ricardo Campos 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron

In the first century, the Romans practiced fire prevention, but by all accounts it was somewhat unique from the organization in place today.

During the reign of Augustus, the 7,000-man Vigiles Urbani, the firefighters and police of ancient Rome, were the enforcers of the fire prevention code which was straight to the point: have a fire in your building? Get disciplined.

Declared by King Hammurabi, initiator of the Babylonian empire, the first-ever building guidelines, were straight forward: “If the building collapses and kills the owner, the builder shall be put to death. If the owner’s son is killed, the builder’s son shall be put to death.”

Those guilty of violating the “fire” code or causing a fire through negligence were punished with a rod or cat-of-nine tails (a multi-tailed whip that originated as an implement for severe physical punishment).

Today’s fire inspectors, by all contrast, do not resort to such physical punishment. Instead, today’s fire inspectors are governed by regulations such as the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, Air Force Instructions and Unified Facilities Criteria which concentrates on occupant safety in buildings with respect to the establishment and maintenance of facilities.

The experience of a fire inspector first establishes itself at the fire ground operations as a firefighter. In other words, he or she has had their share of experience in battling fires during their careers, such as waking up at all hours answering structural fire calls, responding to a fire alarm sounding somewhere in the community, vehicle accident or medical response.

A fire inspector often reflects the on “trials and tribulations” of a firefighter when inspecting a facility. For example, a fire inspector may notice an exit door blocked by wooden pallets and advise the facility manager to remove them immediately. The pallets are a hazard not only to the occupants and would become a major obstacle by trapping the firefighter in the event of a fire.

The fire inspectors educate, educate and educate people about fire hazards and have the facility managers correct those hazards in a judicious manner. The experienced fire inspector, who as a firefighter has embarked onto a burning building, is well aware of the dangers that firefighters will confront. Interfacing with the public shows the community fire inspectors are working even when there’s no fire or medical emergencies

The mainstay of the fire prevention program is the inspection process. A fire prevention code in force within the command is of little value to the community without an efficient inspection and enforcement platform. Joint Base San Antonio Fire Emergency Services utilizes the four program elements: fire prevention inspections, facility pre-incident plan reviews, code enforcement and fire safety education.

Receiving the fame, fortune and formal recognition as a firefighter, who just saved a family’s burning home, is not in cards for a fire inspector. Keeping building occupants and first responders safe from potential hazards that are all around us is the primary task for a fire inspector.

At Joint Base San Antonio, the fire inspectors assigned to JBSA-Lackland, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and JBSA-Randolph and are always ready, willing and able to assist the facility manager in any and all fire related issues. For more information, contact the Fire prevention office at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston at 210-221-2727, JBSA-Lackland at 210-671-2921 or JBSA-Randolph at 210-652-6915.