The 21st century has brought with it advancements in technology, housing and industries, which has contributed to an increase in the number of fire incidences reported in the United States of America, and globally. Fire prevention is an essential course, which would contribute greatly to the installation of better safety measures to reduce the number of fire incidences. The concepts and knowledge gained in this course are necessary to acquaint an individual with the various professionals who work in fire prevention including a fire marshal, plan examiner, fire inspector, life safety educator and fire investigator, and their qualifications (Chandler, 2009).
A fire marshal is a member of the fire department team who aids in the process of disaster preparedness. Their main functions include ensuring the entire environment is safe in the event of a fire disaster. This involves inspecting all buildings and ensuring that the fire extinguishers are up to date in terms of their servicing and performance in general. They also inspect the emergency fire exits in buildings, affirm whether they are unlocked, clear, and can give access outside in a fast manner. They also ensure that fire alarms are in a working condition and conduct arson investigations. In order to become a fire marshal, one needs to acquire experience either as a firefighter or as a law enforcement officer. They also need to have acquired a high school diploma, an associates or a bachelor’s degree in emergency medical services, law enforcement, engineering or any of the fire sciences. Ability to understand construction blue prints and coordinate well with other team members is an upper hand (International Association of Arson investigators, 2011).
A fire plan examiner conducts safety inspections, inspects building constructions and ensures community and household compliance with the fire safety procedures, their regulations, laws and ordinances. They also inspect buildings for accurate installation of fire alarms and ensure the fire protective equipment is in shape. They also inspect the storage of hazardous and inflammable material. They ensure that these are stored in the safest manner to prevent the occurrence of a fire. The professional requirements include the knowledge of the fire and building codes, acquisition of a high school diploma and college coursework in fire prevention (Chandler, 2009).
A life safety educator is an individual whose main duties include creating, developing and delivering fire and life safety and injury reduction programs either in the event of a fire or during other trainings to educate other fire fighting personnel. They also write and distribute news releases, feature articles, newsletters and marketing information for the local media and other outlets that promote educational programs, behaviors, actions, services and activities in life saving matters. In order to become a life safety educator, one needs to be able to create, develop and deliver fire and life safety programs to a broad range of audiences and age groups. They are also required to interpret and apply methods and techniques of fire prevention and suppression. As needed, they should be able to interpret and apply pertinent Federal, State and local laws, codes and regulations. They should also hold a simple high school diploma and the necessary fire fighting skills (International Association of Arson Investigators; National Fire Protection Association, 2012).
A fire investigator studies, determines, documents the cause of a fire outbreak. These individuals determine whether a fire outbreak was due to arson or an accident. Their duties mainly involve secluding the scene of crime and commencing investigations on the fire as soon as it occurs. They then establish which faults ultimately led to the fire and how these are to be corrected in future to avert another incidence. They also determine approximately, when and how the fire started. Their final duty involves testifying in a court of law depending on the circumstances surrounding the fire when needed. However, their duties may vary according to different states and organizations. They require a knowledge background from mechanical, electrical, civil or mechanical engineering. A law enforcement background offers an added advantage as well as the investigative skills (National Fire Prevention Association, 2008).
The most coveted position in my view is that of a fire investigator and that would be my coveted future position. As earlier stated, they perform inspections following fire incidences. Other duties include performing inspections of both new and old building to ascertain their fire protection equipment. They also communicate in detail with architects, engineers and developers with respect to incidences and emergencies. Once a fire occurs, this is the group of individuals who assemble at the site to go through the entire rubble and decipher some meaning from the occurrence. They investigate every detail and look at all the aspects surrounding the fire and come up with a causative factor, an aggravating factor and the intent. They also look into what would have been done differently to control the fire better or rather, even avert it totally (Chandler M., 2009).
The skills required for this position include the ability to read and interpret building plans and specifications. They need to be able to make detailed investigations, to analyze findings and prepare reports and recommendations. They are also required to acquire the ability to meet and deal tactfully and effectively with the public, to make oral presentations and ability to keep detailed records. In addition, they need to be able to enter and retrieve data using a modern computer system. These individuals also need to be able to drive vehicles, read small print on documents and maps, detect subtle shades of color, hear and speak well enough to communicate over the telephone, radio and in person. He must be physically fit enough to carry fire equipment as needed, walk over rough terrain, climb hills, and work outdoors for long periods of time in all types of weather conditions and to safely wear and work in a self-contained breathing apparatus without medical or physical restrictions(National Fire Prevention Association, 2008).
Fire investigators also need to acquire the knowledge of principles, practices and techniques of fire prevention. This aids greatly in averting fire incidences way before they occur. They also require a good knowledge of the laws, codes, ordinances and regulations related to fire prevention and enforcement. This is required to help them to know the correct algorithms and steps to follow in the case of a fire emergency. In addition, they need the knowledge of building materials, construction and the principles of combustion. This is to aid them in understanding the chemistry behind the fire and in a way assist in the investigation. They also need to know all the principles and practices used in fire and arson investigations (International Association of Arson Investigators; National Fire Protection Association, 2012).
In conclusion, they require the knowledge of building, extinguishing and the alarm systems; The knowledge of the proper storage and handling of explosives and flammables and knowledge of the legal processes involved in collecting evidence, preparing cases and prosecuting violators of fire laws. All these are necessary to aid them in collecting all the little details concerning fires and how these can he handles appropriately. It is well understood that they require close to excellent communication skills. This will help them in communicating with the different positions of people in the fire department to ensure the best outcomes (International Association of Arson investigators, 2011).
Chandler M., 2009, Fire Investigation, Cengage Learning
International Association of Arson investigators, 2011, Fire Investigator: Principles and practice to NFPA 921 and 1033, Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
International Association of Arson Investigators; National Fire Protection Association, 2012, Fire Investigator Field Guide, Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
National Fire Prevention Association, 2008, Fundamentals of a Fire Fighter skill, Jones and Bartlett.
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