Do You Need a Fire Prevention Officer for Your Building?

fireman wearing protective uniform standing next to a fire engine in a garage of a fire department

According to an NFPA report on home structure fires, an estimated $7.3 billion is lost in direct property damage every year.

Most of these fires are a result of:

  • Cooking and heating activities
  • Smoking materials
  • Electrical distribution and lighting equipment

And while fire prevention officers play a critical role in mitigating the effects of fire breakouts in buildings, they can only do so much in preventing excessive damage to your premises.

For instance, considering a single sprinkler releases up to 60 gallons of water per minute, you risk causing massive damage to your property due to excessive flooding if you have to wait for the fire department to manage an accidentally activated sprinkler.

Remember, sprinkler systems go off once the effects of fire are detected or the room reaches a predetermined temperature. In that case, a Shutgun can save you thousands of dollars and help you control flooding as you wait for a fire marshall to help you manage the situation.

Who Is a Fire Prevention Officer?

experienced fire officer

A fire prevention officer is a chief firefighter with a rank higher than a sub-officer in the fire department. He’s also the county fire chief, marshall, or sheriff that coordinates and enforces rules for junior firefighters in the frontline operational service. 

Typically, fire prevention officers fill an ongoing role working for the state of local governments. However, large-capacity organizations and businesses such as hospitals, hotels, and apartments may need to hire a fire prevention officer on a permanent or part-time basis.

Managing a fire breakout or implementing fire safety plans in large organizations can be demanding. Hiring a dedicated chief fire prevention officer is a good idea, instead of relying solely on a government fire prevention office and emergency services in the event of a fire.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Fire Prevention Officer?

The role of a fire prevention officer includes but is not limited to:

  • Advising on fire- and fire code-related issues for building structures and maintenance
  • Assessing and advising on fire safety requirements for new building structures
  • Advising building occupants on daily activities related to fire issues
  • Liaising with relevant authorities and organizations to educate building occupants on fire safety issues
  • Liaising with relevant organizations for training staff on fire safety
  • Collecting information on fire safety and preparing reports
  • Ensuring proper maintenance of fire-fighting equipment and electrical systems installation and maintenance
  • Monitoring emergency preparedness and fire precaution measures, including appropriate fire exit routes and doors
  • Advising and guiding building occupants about compliance with fire safety regulations
  • Inspecting buildings in case a fire occurs to determine the cause
  • Offering fire safety education programs (holiday fire safety, fire safety tips, fire extinguisher training, fire prevention week, etc.) to the general public, schools, and community organizations
  • Creating emergency response policies and procedures that guide fire department personnel

What Are the Qualifications of a Fire Prevention Officer?

Becoming a municipal fire prevention officer requires a combination of skills gained over years of working in the fire department and at least a high school diploma or GED.

The officer may also need training and certification in emergency response courses like emergency medical technician (EMT) or fire prevention.

Otherwise, an Associate of Science degree in Fire Science from an accredited college will give you an upper hand when applying for a fire prevention officer position.

Other key competencies for a fire prevention officer include:

  • Ability to read and interpret building plans, including identifying inconsistencies and other fire safety risks relating to sprinkler systems and electrical safety standards
  • Thorough knowledge of fire safety equipment and systems in a building
  • Be a responsible person and collaborative team player with good oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to identify and explain different storage properties, including identifying hazardous materials such as flammable and combustible liquids
  • Ability to react promptly and calmly in tense situations
  • Ability to deliver presentations to groups and community organizations on fire safety

A municipal fire prevention officer must also clearly understand the city, state, and federal fire safety and protection regulations.

What Is a Shutgun?

sprinkler head

A Shutgun is a quick-stop fire sprinkler tool used to shut off fire sprinkler heads if they activate falsely. It’s an indispensable emergency tool firefighters and other maintenance personnel use to shut off activated fire sprinklers quickly, helping to prevent excessive flooding in a building. 

The Shutgun is a one-hand operation tool weighing about 10.3 oz (294 grams) and doesn’t require any specialized training to operate.

The Shutgun works with different types of sprinkler heads, including:

  • pendant fire sprinkler
  • upright fire sprinkler
  • wall mount sprinkler
  • semi-recessed fire sprinkler  

What Causes a Fire Sprinkler to Activate?

man using fire sprinkler tool

Fire sprinklers go off when heat levels exceed a specific threshold. Sprinklers have small frangible bulbs with some chemical fluid.

The liquid chemical heats up when the heat exceeds predetermined levels (73℃), causing the glass to pop off, activating the sprinkler, and causing water discharge at high pressure.

A fire sprinkler head may activate accidentally if a false fire is detected or when it is hit.

Do You Need a Shutgun and Fire Protection Officer Simultaneously?

Statistics show that most fire departments respond to a fire every 24 seconds.

Considering it takes an average of 9 minutes and 20 seconds for the fire response team to get to the site, having basic knowledge and equipment to mitigate the effects of a fire breakout is crucial for every building occupant.

However, it’s noteworthy that damages that occur due to fire breakages go beyond burns. Fire sprinklers dispatch water at high pressures, which may lead to even more severe damage than the fire would cause.

It’s even more painful if a falsely activated head causes such water damage.

Thus, a Shutgun is an essential tool in all key sectors prone to accidental fire sprinkler head activations. These include sectors such as:

  • Hotel facilities
  • Emergency centers like hospitals
  • Construction sites and companies
  • Large office buildings
  • Residential buildings
  • Warehouses
  • Shopping centers

Tip: Always put a Shutgun fire sprinkler emergency shut-off device on standby alongside a fire extinguisher.

Managing property damages during a fire breakout starts with putting out the fire. You’ll need the services of a fire prevention officer to put out the fire before you proceed to damages caused by excessive water from the fire sprinkler. 

Bottom Line

Fire breakouts can cause fear and confusion. However, you can manage the situation by remaining calm and taking the necessary steps. Once you notice a fire break out in a building, activate the nearest fire alarm to alert the authorities and your building’s fire protection officer.

The fire protection officer will help evacuate the building. They also team up with other employees trained in fire safety to help with fire management as you wait for the fire department to arrive.


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