The Impact of Codes and Standards

To prepare for this Assignment, read “The New Inspector’s Dilemma” scenario on page 75 of your text. This scenario covers an issue regarding the water supply requirements of a supermarket. It also discusses the responsibilities associated with reporting and the utilization during an emergency response. Using this scenario as a foundation, write a 1,400- to 1,750-word essay assessing the impact of codes and standards and an inspection review related to fire prevention.

Include the following in your assessment:

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  • How do codes and standards play a role in this scenario and provide for a better outcome in the future for the supermarket and the community?
  • What role do the NFPA and the Insurance Services Office (ISO) play in this scenario in relation to codes and standards?
  • In general, how can codes, standards, and inspections improve fire prevention?
  • What responsibilities are associated with this scenario?
  • Who should be responsible for fire prevention efforts within the typical fire department?

The New Inspector’s Dilemma 

The house fire was over and the cleanup had begun. As fire fighter Jackson surveyed the scene in her part-time role as one of the department’s investigators, she saw little that was out of the ordinary. It was obvious to her that the toaster oven in the kitchen of the home was at the heart of the problem. When Jackson questioned the distraught homeowner, the homeowner told her that she had started to cook pizza when she remembered that she had to get something from the market, which was about four blocks away. She had to wait at the supermarket checkout, and then the 5-minute trip home took longer than 10 minutes because of heavy traffic. By the time she arrived, the fire had engulfed the cabinets over the under-the-cabinet toaster oven that had apparently malfunctioned. A neighbor had noticed the smoke and called the fire department, which had reached the scene only moments earlier. As Jackson drove back to headquarters, she noticed the new hydrant just around the corner from the fire scene, near the new supermarket. This hydrant had been used to fight the fire. Something bothered Jackson about that hydrant. Then she remembered. The building department had sent the supermarket construction drawings to her captain, the fire official, for fire department approval, and those drawings showed all the hydrant locations in the area, including the new one. The captain was preparing to leave for a vacation and asked Jackson to review the drawings and to return them with her comments. At that time, Jackson had just begun to serve as one of the four part-time shift investigators after serving over 10 years as a fire fighter. She had seen nothing wrong with the drawings, noting that there were adequate hydrants. She had left the plans on the captain’s desk with a note saying that they seemed okay. Apparently the captain, having returned from vacation with a great deal of work waiting for him, had approved the drawings and sent them in. When Jackson returned to her office, she looked up the hydrant data in the computer file. Sure enough, the new hydrant was not listed. Jackson pulled up the preincident plan for the supermarket in the neighborhood and found that only one hydrant was listed, about 1500 feet (457 m) on the far side of the supermarket. The hydrant near the fire scene was not shown because it was not in the computer file. In addition, no information was provided in the file about the size of the water mains that supplied the hydrant. Over the next few days, Jackson checked the new hydrant and found that it supplied only about 400 gallons per minute. Records of the water company showed that both hydrants near the supermarket were supplied by the same 6-inch (15-cm) main. The nearest hydrant on another main, also on a 6-inch (15-cm) line, was more than 2000 feet (610 m) from the supermarket. Having learned this information, she felt that it was time to get her captain involved and to report the problem with the preincident plan. The captain was not happy with the news. His first impulse was to blame Jackson, but he wisely realized that might lead to a confrontation over an event that had happened a long time ago, possibly even before Jackson assumed her role as a part-time investigator. The captain also realized that he was partly to blame because he should have taken the time to check the plans more carefully and to ask Jackson to compare them with existing preincident plans for properties in the area. He knew that Jackson was still quite inexperienced at the time when the drawings were submitted. The information now had to be fed into both the preincident plan and the hydrant records. The existing water supply was insufficient for the needs of the area and something needed to be done to ensure it would be able to meet the needs of the sprinklers and multiple lines in case of a serious fire at the supermarket. The captain told Jackson that he would take the problem to the fire chief. They would decide who should negotiate with the water company and what steps should be taken to attempt to force the company to provide a larger line if negotiations failed. In preparation, the captain asked Jackson to ascertain whether any Insurance Services Office (ISO) or local fire code provisions required the water company to provide larger mains when greater risks developed with construction of industrial sites, high-rises, or multiple-occupancy residences.

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