Fire Prevention an Important Focus at Fire & Rescue Department
At Marshfield Fire and Rescue, the Deputy Chief of Fire Prevention is responsible for all fire prevention related activities, such as fire inspections, plan reviews, and oversight to public fire education. Traditionally, that position has also overseen vehicle and department maintenance and served as the expert on building codes and code enforcement.
With the retirement of Deputy Chief Ed Erickson earlier this year, the position is being filled through the end of the year by Deputy Chief Craig DeGrand. Deputy Chief DeGrand plans on retiring at the end of the year and as such Pete Fletty has been named the next Deputy Chief of Fire Prevention beginning in January 2018.
The Deputy Chief of Fire Prevention position is evolving from what it used to be. The individual in this position now will have primary responsibility to complete fire inspections each day, in addition to other assigned duties. The Deputy Chief will work with the Lieutenants on each shift to help ensure all of the inspections are completed annually and that shifts are involved in various inspections. The Lieutenants who were once the primary inspectors will become more shift-oriented and perform different assignments, such as training their shifts.
“While the Lieutenants have done a great job inspecting in the past, they have not been able to train with their shift members,” said Chief Scott Owen. “It’s important for them to train together because the Lieutenants are the interior officer on a scene, and the first one in with a crew and have enormous safety responsibility within the structure. If the Lieutenants don’t get to train with the firefighters, they are not necessarily on the same page.”
Additionally, if a Lieutenant is out inspecting, they must stop the job if a fire call comes in.
“As a result, they start to fall behind,” said Owen. “A full time inspector is not part of duty crew, and does not respond to calls.”
From an inspection point of view, having someone as the primary inspector helps provide continuity among inspections.
“They will be the primary contact for business owners,” said Owen. “That person is going to be out doing the majority of the inspections, and building that rapport with that business community. As the main fire inspector, they will be able to work over time with business owners to not only improve the process, but the safety for citizens.”
Marshfield Fire & Rescue completes about 2500 inspections per year, including all businesses within City limits, and any building other than private residences. Because Marshfield Clinic and larger apartment complexes (in which only the common areas are inspected), and other larger entities which consist of several departments, are counted as one site, that number is significant.
“It helps ensure the safety of the citizens going in, not only those visiting, but those working and living there,” said Owen. “It’s for the safety of everyone, and safety is extremely important. The codes that we have today are the results of significant fires of years past. Everything is a result of history.”