Dealing with Emergencies
Technology plays a major role in helping firefighters to tackle emergencies as efficiently as possible. For example, at fire and rescue headquarters, the Control room computers store street plans, details of high risk buildings and the latest information on hazardous materials. This ensures that as soon as an emergency call is received – controllers can immediately access what appliances are required.
On attending a fire, the firefighters have to make a very quick assessment of the situation – as materials used in homes and factories change, so does the way a fire is tackled.
There is also the hazard of toxic fumes and heavy smoke which can be generated from the modern materials – for example foam filled furniture.
This makes tackling a fire much more difficult and firefighters always go fully protected with equipment such as breathing apparatus as well as personal radio sets to keep them in contact with their colleagues at the scene, or back at fire and rescue headquarters.
Firefighters will also have a range of other equipment at their disposal depending on the incident to which they have been called: cutting and lifting gear to deal with traffic accidents; protective suits for use at chemical spills and thermal imaging cameras to help locate victims in smoke filled rooms.
Fire Safety: A Key Area of Work
Specialist training for officers involved in fire safety is provided at the national Fire Safety College in Gloucestershire and within individual fire and rescue services. Many fire officers also undertake professional qualifications in fire engineering, and there is the opportunity to study for other relevant academic qualifications, such as the membership of the Institution of fire engineers. Training in fire safety is critical to much of the day to day work of a firefighter.
Factories, offices, shops, hotels, boarding houses and railway premises are all required to comply with certain fire precaution measures, which include providing adequate means of escape. It is the job of the fire and rescue service to ensure on behalf of the Fire Authority that these requirements are being followed and effectively maintained. Fire and rescue service’s also provide specialist fire prevention advice to local authorities which are responsible for licensing buildings such as: theatres, cinemas, clubs, and sports grounds. Hospitals, schools, nursing homes and many other institutions also need professional advice regarding fire safety.
Another important area of work is promoting fire safety, through education and publicity, to the general public. Local fire and rescue services are often renowned for the enthusiasm and ingenuity they devote to these education and publicity initiatives.