Unit VIII Essay
Columbia Southern University
Unit VIII Essay
The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet (Aristotle). This quote come from one of the greatest ancient Greek philosopher, and it summarizes perfectly what I experimented during this course. Since I was a kid, fire always fascinated me. I grow up in a house with a wood fireplace and I remember to spend many hours watching the wood how calmly was consumed by the fire and reflecting on how is possible that a comfortable fire able to keep me warm during the long winters, can become a force of nature capable to destroy everything on its path. Unfortunately, I witnessed the destructive power of the fire when a good friend of mine lost his house completely due to a malfunction in his kitchen that originated a powerful fire; therefore, in a way or in other, I always respected the fire and I always wanted to learn more about it but I never found the time and the right motivation, until Columbia Southern University found both for me.
The course of fire prevention opened a new window over my continuous learning process. The first thing I have learnt is that America has a fire problem which I never suspect about it. I originally come from Italy and, in my mind, America is the safest place in the world, where dreams become true with the right effort, thus, discovering that close to a million and half fires occur every year causing an average of 3400 deaths and almost 15000 injured (National Fire Protection Association, 2017) shocked me. I never thought that something like that could happen in the States. The brief history of fires in the recent American age has been very informative and I enjoyed studying how United States, through the National Board of Fire Underwriters, the Insurance Companies, and reports as “America Burning” or “America at Risk” commissioned by government (Diamantes, 2016), has been able to bring the fire prevention at the highest practical levels. The part that I most enjoyed has been the different roles within a fire department and especially the functions of a Fire Prevention Officer. I have been employed in a transportation company as Safety and Security Officer and I thought that the roles were similar. They have common responsibilities, but the Fire Prevention Officer has broader duties, such as the financial and budgeting burdens or the court duties. I am currently employed as Safety and Security Reviewer and I conduct inspections to bus agencies to ensure compliance with state and federal rules and regulations. The chapters and the assignments regarding inspections, reporting, and compliance are very pertinent to my job and from now on I will be able to introduce the new concept I learnt in my audits and in my training. I will be able also to offer better technical assistance to companies that request it and I am planning to add a presentation of the concepts of fire prevention to my instructions and conference sections I will participate.
In the future, especially when I will finish my educational journey, I see myself managing the team of inspectors in which I am a member now and I would also like to manage the training department; therefore, the concepts I learnt during this course could make the difference in the hiring process, but also in the daily tasks I will have. As I said at the beginning, the course has not been easy for me. Language barrier, no background in fire science, and limited time made this course the most difficult I studied, but even if the roots has been bitter, the fruits I recollected are sweet and priceless and they will accompany me for the rest of my life.
During this course on the concepts of fire prevention I had the opportunity to understand the different roles within the fire departments and I have gained knowledge on few professional positions related with fire prevention. Below there is a brief description of the main duties of each of the roles I studied along with the professional qualifications each one should have.
This is one is probably the most important role in fire prevention. Even if the responsibilities of state fire marshal vary state by state, their role typically involves fire safety codes development and enforcement, fire and arson investigation, maintenance of fire incident data, and public education (Don Smith, 2007) . They also serve as advisor for state officials regarding fire prevention and safety policies. As seen, the tasks of fire marshal personnel are broad and they have to be educated in different fields, not only in fire science. For this reason, a degree in fire science is not enough to become fire marshal. This position is generally covered by people that first served for few years as firefighters or higher position within a fire department so they can gather experience on the field. In addition to this mandatory experience, candidates for fire marshal positions should show the right level of training. This instruction should include higher level of fire science, but it is not limited to it. Law enforcement concepts, emergency medical services or forensic, fiscal and legal aspects involving the fire department are also mandatory training that is necessary to have in order to be considered for the position of fire marshal.
This role works under the direct supervision of fire marshal and it is responsible for performing plan review, fire investigations, and few other duties (San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District, 2007). Plan examiners have the main task to review the plans of the city or county, depending how the fire department is structured, to ensure compliance with all the applicable Federal, State, and local fire law and regulations. In addition, this role has to work in conjunction with building department, engineers, architects, and contractors. They generally conduct in house training and inspections that have the dual function to ensure compliance and to offer technical assistance as needed. This position is generally offered to candidate that have some college experience, certification as fire code inspector, and experience on the field working within fire prevention division in a fire department.
This position also report to fire marshal or deputy fire marshal. Fire inspectors are responsible for performing inspections in residential and commercial properties to ensure compliance and to prevent accidents that can occur due to unsafe behavior. Occasionally, they serve as accident investigators and public educators, even if their main role is to inspect properties. Fire inspectors are also responsible for recordkeeping and public relations. Important skills to perform the duties are customer service aptitudes, ability to enquire, and capacity to produce concise and effective reports. In order to perform the work properly, the right candidate should have college experience, certification in fire code inspector, and experience in fire prevention as result of working directly in the field for few years.
Life Safety Educator
The life safety educator is responsible for educating the public of all ages about the risks of fire and other threats to life safety, such as choking and falls. This position is very important within a community because training is the essence of prevention and this role is not limited to the fire but should include all the potential dangers that menace human life. Generally, a college degree is not required to apply for this position but it is strongly recommended. The right candidate for this role should have experience in delivering training and should have the skill of public speaking and good presenter. In addition, this position requires a variety of safety training having the primary focus in fire prevention (National Fire Protection Association, 2015).
Fire investigators not only investigate cause of fires, but they have numerous duties. They assist fire inspectors during the building reviews and the testing of fire prevention devices. They also participate in all the activities focused in fire prevention, such as training, drills, and exercises. Since fire investigators often educate public and firefighters, they should be able to deliver instruction in a clear and effective manner. They have to conduct exhaustive investigations when accidental and manmade fire accident happens, therefore, they have to obtain a college degree in fire science and they have to be certified as fire investigators and they have to undergo other several pertinent training. They also have to be able to produce unbiased and clear reports and they have to appear in court as needed. Fire investigator is definitely one of the most demanding position within a fire department.
Fire prevention and life safety are certainly topics that caught my full attention and I learnt a lot during the last eight weeks. My safety attitude and my skills increased considerably. The roles within the fire department opened my mind forcing me to explore new horizons and I do not exclude to join some of the fire departments around my house in the near future, even as volunteer.
BrainyQuote (n-d). Learning Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/learning
David Diamantes (2016). Principles of fire prevention (updated 3rd Ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Don Smith (2007). The Duty to Act: Responsibilities of Today’s Fire Marshal. Retrieved from CSU Online Library.
National Fire Protection Association (2015). Standard on Fire and Life Safety Educator, Public Information Officer, Youth Firesetter Intervention Specialist and Youth Firesetter Program Manager Professional Qualifications. Retrieved form https://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/list-of-codes-and-standards/detail?code=1035
National Fire Protection Association (2017). Fires in the U.S. Retrieved from https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Fire-statistics-and-reports/Fire-statistics/Fires-in-the-US
San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District (2007). Fire Prevention Plan Examiners. Retrieved from http://www.firedepartment.org/about/SAM/references/Category%205%20-%20Programs/5B.4/SRVFPD%20Job%20Description%20-%20Fire%20Plans%20Examiner.pdf