Building Inspections

This inspection post is going to be based on the 1000+ inspections I have done for insurance companies.† Yes I was an insurance monkey, and I learned a lot doing it.† Namely; Don’t trust a home owner to do what’s right. Keep in mind that you will be bound by your local codes and fire prevention division.

I’ll try to keep it brief.

1.† Photos

Some departments frown on photography.† The main reason is because when you go to court they will try to prove that you don’t know how to take pictures.† Been there, done that.† But the fact remains: If you can prove that those pictures were taken at that place AND at that time the defense comes to a screeching halt.† I’ve gone to court to represent land lords and just the fact that I was there with photos ended the case.† Take a picture of the building when you are walking up, then take one of the building number with as much of the building as possible in the picture, this proves where you are.† Make sure your camera is set to record the time with the picture info which is very common, and make sure the time is right.† Now you are timing your inspection.† A lawyer will have a hard time proving that you went somewhere else during the few minutes between pics.† DO NOT edit the pictures.

2. Approach

Get a good look around.† Are there any power lines in the way, are they being pulled off the building?† Is the building straight? Do any questions pop into your mind as you look at it.† Can an engine and truck operate as they need to? If not it’s time to document it.† Is this the most commonly used entrance to the building?

3. Greeting

“Hi I’m Anchorpoint, I need to do a quick walk-through of your building.† Do you have time now or can we make an appointment?”† Remember, nothing is wrong, yet.† Explain about how pre-planning helps everybody including tenants and the fire department.† If we can find the utilities we can shut them down quicker if needed.† If it is an inspection let them know what you will be looking for.† Don’t leave without an appointment.

4.Outside

Now that you have the landlords attention, take a walk around the outside.† You know what to look for; exits, building falling apart, trash piles, fire hazards, etc…

5.†Alarm System

Is it in Trouble Mode?† Does it actually function or is it still there from the previous tenant?† What does it protect and are there smoke detectors attached to it?† Maybe it’s a burglar alarm and the tenant doesn’t even know.

6. Interior Hazards

Trash buildup, living in filth is very common.† Hoarders are a HUGE hazard.† This has to be documented and addressed.† Falling ceilings, structural damage, gas tanks in the house, welding operations in the house, poorly made repairs, the list goes on and on.† My advice is don’t waste your time looking at every detail, the issues will probably present themselves, unless of course†you are the fire inspector.

7. Utility Locations

You need to know if they are secured, hidden and just where they are so you can find them later.

8. Special Hazards, Special Services Required

Commercial cooking requires a vent hood, and vent hoods require cleaning.† The funny thing here is the law required “cleaning as needed”† but the insurance companies required every 6 months.† There are dozens of things involved with cooking.† Day cares require permits, painting booths require vents and paint storage.† I won’t bore you with that but keep in mind special hazards require special services.

9. All Areas Inspected?

Did you miss anything? What about roof access? Adjoined buildings? Tunnels dating back to the civil war?† Did you look in the crawl spaces?† Open all doors that you are allowed to, make sure they work and where they go, you’ll get a surprise one day.

10.†Wrap Up

Tell them what you think.† Tell them what they need to fix.† If you are giving them a break on something you NEED to follow up on it.† File an abatement or call the chief and let him know what’s† going on there, now it’s his problem.† If you don’t document or follow up you can get sued for breech of duty.† If something goes wrong and they have a financial loss they will say the fire department knew about it.

11. Reporting

Tell whoever walked around with you, tell the chief, enter it into the CAD, File an abatement.† Whatever is appropriate to do, you need to do.† Then follow up.

12. Legal

Oh yeah, legal.† If you do what your are supposed to do you won’t have any problems. If you forget to follow up or file the abatement do it NOW.† If you get called into court you can review your notes.† It’s ok. Remember it’s not personal.† Too many people take this personal.† The property owner thinks it’s cheaper to go to court than install a sprinkler system, so what.† You have to do your job, and you also have to look out for the other firefighters.

1 Comment

  • anchorpoint1 says:

    Hey! I’ve got pictures to go with this!
    Geuss we’ll put them up tomorrw and we can play “guess the hazard”.

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Marques Bush

Firefighter Basics launched in February 2009 after Founder/Editor Marques Bush was looking for a way to express himself and share his experiences with brother and sister firefighters. Shortly after founding the site Marques spoke with several trusted friends and ask them to come on board and contribute also. Firefighter Basics is a dedicated group of firefighters who strive everyday to practice what they preach about Training, Safety, and Tradition.  We can be reached at firefighterbasics@gmail.com
Comments
ladderjack
“Go” Versus “No-Go” A Brief Look into Survivability Profiling
Anthony, Thank you for your response. I hope I didn't come off as saying that "I am the only opinion that matters in this paper." I agree with you 100% that there is no "Set" way to do anything, and that we need to keep our minds open to different techniques and thinking outside of…
2014-08-27 20:34:16
Ryan McGovern/ Ladderjack
“Go” Versus “No-Go” A Brief Look into Survivability Profiling
Ben, Thanks a lot for your comment! You're definitely right that there needs to be hoseline protection given to the guys working above the fire; and that a TIC should be utilized when attempting VES techniques. Every little thing we can do and engineer to make an already dangerous maneuver safer is a must! Thanks…
2014-08-27 20:25:20
Anthony Correia
“Go” Versus “No-Go” A Brief Look into Survivability Profiling
While VSP was written as an EFO paper, the paper it is not end all be all on this topic. In a presentation Marsars did last year, he himself said it wasn't 100%. Even gave an example of a fire in his home local where a person lived, that would of met unlikely survivability profiling.…
2014-08-27 19:24:24
Ben Waller
“Go” Versus “No-Go” A Brief Look into Survivability Profiling
...OK, it was 3 points, but who is counting?
2014-08-26 23:44:08
Ben Waller
“Go” Versus “No-Go” A Brief Look into Survivability Profiling
I agree, with two additional points. VIES of the tenable 2nd story windows should include the following - 1. A heavy Transitional attack in the 1st floor windows below the fire to protect the truckies' access, the ladders, and egress for truckies and (potential) victims. 2. Truckies take a thermal imaging camera and size up…
2014-08-26 23:43:33
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