Safety check

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, July 25, 2013

Troy Fire Department Sgt. Jeffrey Hillburn inspects Serv-Cold on Thursday as part of the department’s efforts to create pre-fire plans.

Troy Fire Department Sgt. Jeffrey Hillburn inspects Serv-Cold on Thursday as part of the department’s efforts to create pre-fire plans.

Firefighters visit area businesses to create plans before emergencies happen

Written by Trenton Thompkins, intern with The Messenger

The Troy Fire Department is helping the business owners of Troy learn more about fire safety while preparing themselves for emergencies.

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The department is currently going through the process of completing pre-fire planning at businesses throughout the city. Firefighters are gathering basic information for use in case of a fire or other emergency.

While examining the buildings, firefighters gather contact information for the business owners, and information such as locations to the nearest exit and how the fire alarm system works. The pre-fire plans also show the rough schematics of a building, room by room. The department even checks for any potential code violations, such as expired fire extinguishers.

“All fire extinguishers are supposed to be checked once a year,” TFD Chief Thomas Outlaw said. “They’ll usually have a tag on the back of the extinguisher to check for.”

If there are any violations, city Fire Marshal Willie Jones follows up to make sure those items are corrected. One issue Jones said was a continuing problem in the city is businesses not having visible numerical address. That hinders firefighters finding locations in a timely fashion – and that’s a safety issue.

Outlaw said the firefighters are also looking for any potential hazards in the buildings, such as hazardous materials and blocked exits. The checks at each business will be used to help firefighters know what to prepare for when responding to an emergency.

“We use the planning to give us a leg up on things before we get there,” Lt. Brandy Cox said.

Cox said the long-term plan is to install mobile data terminals in fire engines in order to view the information from the pre-fire planning while responding.

“We’ve done half of the list already, we’re off on a good foot,” Outlaw said of 800 total buildings to check. “We went back and added more buildings this year.”

All fire department shifts take part in the checks, Outlaw said.

“People have been real receptive to us coming in and showing them the pre-fire plans.” Outlaw said. “What we’re going to start doing is going around once a year to make sure each building is up to code.”

“These may seem like small details, but they could mean a lot when we are trying to mitigate an incident,” Cox said. Thomas Graning contributed to this report.