Fire Preplanning: What You Need to Know

Elevate safety with strategic fire preplanning. Navigate our hub for expert insights, checklists, and resources to ensure preparedness in any scenario.

Published:July 2, 2024
Edited:
July 2, 2024

Table of Contents

    Elevate safety with strategic fire preplanning. Navigate our hub for expert insights, checklists, and resources to ensure preparedness in any scenario.

    Fire preplanning, otherwise known as Pre-Incident Planning (PIP), is crucial to a firefighter’s preparedness. It is commonly created with the aid of the property owner to develop a better understanding of what the crews may face when responding to an incident at that specific location.

    What is a Fire Preplan?

    With increasingly complex and flammable construction making up today’s world, it is vital that firefighters be prepared for a variety of scenarios. This forward way of thinking is known as fire preplanning. A fire preplan allows first responders to have more information about a property that will guide a better response in the future. A fire preplan can be conducted in many ways, whether that is continuous training at various locations, or meeting with homeowners and construction companies to review floorplans, material lists, or other high-risk areas on a property.6 Not only does fire preplanning help ensure the safety of the firefighters and property owners, but it also works to mitigate the damage done by a fire.1

    Key Components of a Fire Preplan

    Time is crucial during an incident and every second matters. This is why it is important for a fire preplan to be as clear and detailed as possible. Factors such as risk assessment to analyzing vulnerabilities should be considered as well. Some key components that fire preplans should include are as follows3:

    Access routes: Clear paths for emergency vehicles to reach the building.

    Hazardous materials: Location and types of dangerous substances in the building.

    Utility shut-off points: Where to turn off gas, water, and electricity.

    Building layout and design: Details about the structure’s floor plans, including exits and access points. This also includes what the building is made out of as different materials impacts firefighting strategies.

    Adjacent structures: Information about nearby buildings.

    Fire protection systems: Information about fire alarms, sprinklers, and smoke detectors.

    Water Supply: Locations for firefighters to access water.

    Communication procedures: How emergency responders and occupants communicate.

    Occupancy levels: Number of people in the building at different times.

    Special Needs Occupants: Identification of people who may need help during evacuation.

    Evacuation procedures: Clear instructions for occupants to leave safely during emergencies.

    Emergency contacts: Who to notify in case of an emergency.

    Creating a Fire Preplanning Strategy

    A fire preplan strategy is to enhance emergency response by documenting important information that will aid firefighters during an incident. This involves information such as a building layout, any hazards the crew may come in contact with, and the location of fire suppression systems.

    Start by defining the goals and objectives of the preplanning strategy; determine what you hope to achieve from it. From here, gather relevant information about the property such as layouts, hazardous material, and utility shut-offs.

    Conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify potential fire hazards and vulnerabilities. This helps prioritize mitigation measures and informs the development of response plans tailored to the specific needs of the property or area. Once the plan is in place, it is important to test it. This can be done through drills or tabletop exercises and will help locate any gaps in the fire preplan.2

    Fire Preplanning Resources and Tools

    Some fire departments offer platforms like Community Connect that allow community members to input crucial information that will be shared with first responders if an incident were to happen at your property. In this app, property owners can add information about residents, utility shutoffs, pets, accessibility, and more.

    For help with fire preplanning, here are some tools and resources that will help get you started:

    Pre-Fire Plans | StationSmarts

    Fame Fire Company No.3 |Chester County, Pennsylvania

    10 Tips for Firefighters to Set Up Your Pre-Incident Plans | Firehouse

    Pre-Incident Planning for the Fire Service | FM Global

    Pre-Incident Planning Software & Fire Pre-Plan Software | First Due

    Fire Preplan FAQ’s

    Some common fire preplan FAQ’s include:

    How often should a fire preplan be updated?

    A fire preplan should be thoroughly reviewed annually. If changes in operations, occupancy, or the construction and layout of the building occur, then the plan should be updated to reflect that as soon as possible.4

    Are fire preplans required by law?

    In some cases, yes. If a general industry employer has 10 or fewer employees, they may communicate the fire preplan orally. However, if there are more than 10 employees, the plan must be written, kept in the workplace, and available for employee review.5

    Can fire preplanning help prevent fires from occurring?

    While fire preplanning primarily focuses on preparing for and responding to fire incidents, proactive measures implemented as part of the preplanning process can help reduce the likelihood of fires occurring. This may include implementing fire prevention programs, conducting fire safety training, and addressing fire hazards identified during preplanning assessments.

    What role do building inspections play in fire preplanning?

    Regular building inspections are an essential part of fire preplanning. Inspections help identify potential fire hazards, ensure compliance with fire safety regulations, and assess the condition of fire protection systems. The findings from inspections inform the development of preplanning strategies and emergency response procedures.

    Sources

    1. Fame Fire, “Pre-Fire Planning.” Accessed February 23, 2024.
    2. ESO, “Pre-Planning 101: How to Build a Solid Pre-plans Program.” Accessed February 23, 2024.
    3. Firehouse, “10 Tips to Help Set up Your Pre=Incident Plans.” Accessed February 23, 2024.
    4. Optimus Risk, “Pre-planning with the Fire Department.” Accessed February 23, 2024.
    5. JJ Keller, “Which OSHA Standards Require Fire Prevention Plans.” Accessed February 23, 2024.
    6. ESO, “What is a Fire Preplan?” Accessed June 18, 2024.

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