Some of the firemen spent Monday morning getting to know the layout of Lynn's Pharmacy in downtown Brazil. Other members of the department will be touring the premises throughout the week. This process is known as the pre-incident survey, and is the first step in pre-incident planning.
Upon entering area businesses, Fire Chief Tobey Archer said the men first get room measurements and find out where the electricity and gas come into the building. Then, they identify potential hazards and areas of void space, where fires may grow quickly. They also check any fire protection systems in place, including alarms and hydrants.
While touring the facilities, they are not citing or issuing tickets to anyone for code violations. Instead, when the firefighters find potential problems, they are simply advising the business owners about what they could do better to prevent a fire.
Due to their rotating shifts, different firemen visit each building on Monday through Friday within a week. After everyone has seen the inside of the structure, members of the department create a floor plan and discuss what their best plan would be when fighting a fire in that particular place.
The men talk about areas that may be blocked and the best way to gain access to different levels.
"Sometimes it can be deceiving," Archer added. Their floor plans additionally show hydrant locations and electrical and gas lines are marked.
These surveys provide the firemen with several advantages in fighting fires in local stores. They are getting to enter areas of the businesses that they would not normally see. Knowing the layout of the building could be crucial because when fighting a fire indoors, Archer said, visibility is usually close to zero.
In addition, pre-incident planning will help the firefighters know what to expect within a particular building. This could keep them from making the wrong decision under the stress of trying to fight a fire.
Everything is going well in the pre-incident planning process, except for one small problem.
"In order for this program to be complete," Archer explained. "We need some additional computer equipment."
He hopes to acquire laptops that would allow the men easy and quick access to all the information about each particular building, but the money needed to purchase them is not available at this time.
With the help of Beth Tevlin and Kay Aubin of the Wabash Valley Community Foundation, Archer has established a fund in the Brazil City Fire Department's name. Anyone interested in donating money to the cause can contact Aubin at the Clay County Community Foundation, 523 E. National Ave., Brazil, at 446-2677 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.