Integrated Fire Emergency Management Plan

 
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Fire emergencies are destructive in that they claim not only people’s lives but also property. In curbing these emergencies, fire emergency plans are necessary to help reduce vulnerabilities, minimize destruction, and prevent the death of individuals through responding adequately as well as recovering efficiently from the emergency disasters (Purdue University, 2016). In achieving all these objectives, the plans provide guidelines and instructions for implementation in areas vulnerable to fire hazards if such emergencies arise. This work presents an integrated fire emergency management plan for implementation during fire outbreaks. In addition, applicable considerations in auditing plans are discussed in terms of their relevance to the plan. Furthermore, the paper offers an explanation of how the plan will be tested by using various methods.

An Integrated Fire Emergency Management Plan

Purpose of the Plan

The purpose of this plan is to reduce the response time for fire stations, potential fire victims, and other stakeholders so as to prevent or reduce injuries, damage to property, and people’s deaths. Also, the plan aims at increasing of the rate of recovery after a fire incident. There are various activities and programs that can help realize the goals and objectives of this plan.

  1. Mitigation and Prevention Programs

These programs aim at mitigating and preventing the potential for or the impact of fire emergencies in a residential place. Each building should have several fire exit routes to enable evacuation of occupants during an emergency. Faster evacuation from such buildings increases the chance of survival and reduces the probability of acquiring and sustaining injuries of varied severity (Singapore Civil Defense Force, n. d.). Every residential place need to have an intensive security system in order to enhance the safety of the locals. The security system should improve surveillance, so that in the case of an emergency, proper notification and response can be achieved. Besides, a well-organized security system can detect vulnerabilities early and correct them where necessary and prevent emergencies. On the same line, this plan outlines some examples of mitigation and prevention activities for implementation before the disaster to prevent or eliminate its occurrence, or even prevent the chance of recurrence if it has already happened. Some of the activities are early identification of hazards, their elimination, and communicating emergency preparedness information in addition to developing and “establishing emergency preparedness training programs” (Purdue University, 2016).

  1. Preparedness Programs and Activities

Activities for enhancing the preparedness aid in developing response capabilities required in emergency events (Purdue University, 2016). Before the activities, anticipation for fire emergencies, acquisition and preparation of resources are critical in laying down preparation plans for the unexpected disasters. One of the activities is providing fire emergency resources and facilities. The equipment includes communication channels with the right contacts to notify firefighting agencies. Residential areas should have fire and smoke alarms to alert occupants of fire before it spreads beyond control. Other resources include medical supplies and an ambulance for ferrying casualties and taking care of the consequences while on transit to the nearest health care facility (Das et al., 2015). For the fire departments, there is a need to have proper equipment, such as firefighting blankets and vehicles. Other tools include fire hose, fire hose reels, fire monitors, fire nozzles, and firefighting trailers. Wheelchairs and other equipment that can help persons with disabilities evacuate faster should be available as well.

In addition to these, adequate personnel are necessary for ensuring the appropriate functioning of firefighting agencies, security systems, and hospitals dealing with emergency casualties, and other utility companies. There should be clear outlines of how to employ the right number of personnel with the required skills for the relevant departments. Also, the above-listed stakeholders need to have a guideline regarding proper employment and deployment of staff and physical resources when fire disasters occur. Each department should have teams with a leader and a clear outline of roles and responsibilities for every member. Any building owner must apply and get a Fire Certificate, which is only issued when there is no reasonable doubt over the emergency preparedness (Singapore Civil Defense Force, n. d.). Issuing of the certificate should be in line with the state and national laws and regulations.

Moreover, emergency planning has to be continuous so that in the case of fire, an adequate preparation will be put in place. Maintenance of the plan by revising and improving it with time ought to be mandatory since the world is changing, especially in the field of technology. All the stakeholders must cooperate with each other, such as building occupants, firefighting agencies, health care institutions, and security systems representatives, including a police department, emergency responders, local leaders, and volunteers. In preparing for a fire emergency, there should be periodic exercises, for instance, emergency fire drills, to help in identifying weaknesses in response plans and organizational capacities. Such an approach will aid in addressing the shortfalls through the corrective action that may can entail improving the already existing comprehensive training of the emergency personnel, which must be on a continuous basis. Conduction of regular and thorough vulnerability assessment of risk should be followed to keep abreast with the prevailing situation concerning fire outbreak in a residential place.

  1. Response

Response operations aim at resolving an emergency very fast in addition to minimizing property damage and casualties (Purdue University, 2016). Those involved in response are building occupants, firefighting agencies, health care institutions, security systems, the local community and other related parties. In realizing proper response, respective departments should develop and maintain standardized operating procedures for effectively reacting to fire emergencies. Some of the activities include warning of the residents of a potential or actual hazard.

In case of fire disasters, the primary task is to ensure life safety. Occupants should evacuate immediately through safe emergency exit routes and assemble at fire assembly points. After that, response agents need to communicate to relevant stakeholders, such as the security system of the actual fire outbreak. In turn, communication receivers must rspond immediately. Well-equipped firefighters ought to extinguish the fire while an ambulance should be there with health care professionals to provide emergency care to casualties while on transit to health care facilities. Also, efforts to evacuate those retained in the building have to be made by evacuation professionals dressed in the appropriate attire. Performance of these activities should be based on collaboration and cooperation of all the relevant stakeholders for meeting the set goals and objectives.

  1. Recovery

The aim of this phase of the plan is to ensure the victims recover and settle faster by going back to the pre-emergency status. Those injured should get the most appropriate health care services to ensure healing in a short timeframe. Other possible assistance in satisfying the basic needs relates to food, water, clothing and shelter. The provision of these resources will depend on how severe the disaster is and their availability. Seeking assistance from well-wishers, the government, and other organizations can help in meeting the needs.

Long-term activities to enhance the recovery process include repairing the damaged building. This procedure may involve repairing the damaged floors, walls, electricity and alarm connections, re-fixing the damaged doors and windows among others. This plan adopts some of the activities outlined by Purdue University (2016), including temporary relocation of residents, restoration of necessary services, removal of debris, and restoration of telecommunications as well as information technology resources. Others are the reconstruction of damaged facilities and submission of reimbursement requests through the federal or state requests in line with the established laws and regulations.

Applicability of Considerations for the Plan

There are applicable considerations that apply to this plan, such as acceptability, adequacy, completeness, consistency, and standardization. Moreover, feasibility, flexibility, along with interoperability and collaboration are relevant for the strategy. Each of the items below applies to this plan in different ways.

a. Acceptability

Acceptability entails meeting the requirements of the plan based on the scenario requirements. Also, a plan is acceptable if its implementation falls within the defined costs and timelines in addition to being consistent with the laid down laws and regulations and all the requirements necessary for a fire emergency. It provides requirements that firefighting personnel should get adequate and continuous training to keep abreast with the changing world.

Additionally, it addresses the need to have fire alarms and the security personnel who can signal the residents of a potential or actual fire outbreak. Another requirement is the easy availability of the contacts of several stakeholders concerned with fire emergencies. Similarly, there are many other resources outlined in the plan making it acceptable. These resources are firefighting and medical equipment and vehicles. Ambulances are needed to ferry casualties to health care facilities. Finally, the plan is in line with the law. It has outlined the need to have a Fire Certificate and follow the laid down procedures and laws in seeking reimbursement once the disaster has occurred. Issuance of a fire certificate and asking for reimbursement is only a reality if the plan abides by the prevailing laws and regulations.

b. Adequacy

Adequacy is applicable only when an emergency plan complies with the available planning guidance. Planning assumptions should be not only valid but also relevant. The concept of operations has to identify and address both fundamental and critical tasks. The plan has outlined all the necessary procedures when a fire incident occurs in a residential place. The procedures include communicating to the relevant agencies and institutions. Furthermore, the plan stipulates the most appropriate actions for protecting and evacuating building occupants during emergency scenarios.

Other actions include ferrying of casualties to hospitals with first aid administration while in transit. The plan’s objective is to reduce the response time when an emergency occurs. Such a factor results in reduction of the severe impact of the outbreaks, which is important in decreasing the number of deaths, injuries, and reconstruction costs. In realizing all the set objectives, the plan has involved all the necessary stakeholders, such as persons with disabilities and various agencies. The plan acknowledges that designing safe exit routes promote evacuation of building occupants to safer fire assembly points. Therefore, adequacy is present in this plan.

c. Completeness

Completeness entails the incorporation of the main objectives, actions, and tasks for accomplishment. Moreover, the issue refers to such resources as personnel and how they are deployed, employed, sustained, and demobilized. Also, completeness involves the criteria and timelines required for the measurement of success in achieving the clearly set goals and objectives. The plan is complete because it provides guidelines on how to accomplish all these tasks. It shows that employees should learn on a continuous basis to effectively and efficiently respond to emergencies. Furthermore, there has to be adequate resources, which are outlined in the plan. On the same line, completeness is present because the guidelines have identified all the stakeholders and the process of communication in this context, along with the actions, such as the construction of exit routes suiting persons with disabilities, to facilitate the evacuation (Singapore Civil Defense Force, 2011). All these factors fulfill the plan’s objectives.

d. Consistency and Standardization

The fire emergency plan is standardized and consistent with many other plans. It addresses how resources should be outsourced and used in dealing with fire emergencies. Such things are typical of any emergency plans. For example, adequate equipment should be present to enhance the success of evacuation, treatment of casualties, and communication with the firefighting agencies among others. Typical of any other plan, this plan has its objectives and goals in addition to the action steps followed in emergency situations. The Singaporean Civil Defense Force (n. d.) asserts that the core objective of a typical fire emergency plan is to prevent or reduce injuries, deaths, and property destruction. Furthermore, all plans have detailed tasks to perform in such cases. In this respect, the plan has stipulated actions for implementation. Other actions consistent with other plans include the construction of buildings in a manner that can enhance alerting and evacuation of occupants during emergencies.

e. Feasibbility

Plans are feasible if critical tasks can be accomplished using the available resources. Concerning this plan, adequate equipment is necessary for combating an emergency (Singapore Civil Defence Force, n. d.). Das et al. (2015) state that plans should include resources like ambulances to ferry casualties, fire alarms for alerting occupants, and functional communication equipment among others. Moreover, human resources are necessary, and they range from the management, the police and so forth. Therefore, this plan is feasible since it has addressed all these concerns.

f. Flexibility

Flexibility involves the promotion of decentralized decision making and accommodation of all kinds of hazards. The Singaporean Civil Defense Force (n. d.) says that building owners and occupants should come together and make an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) in line with available guidelines. This plan has shown the need for regular evaluation and renewal for it to be relevant and up to date. Furthermore, it has incorporated involvement of the government through proper observation of the laws such as seeking for a Fire Certificate. At the same time, the needs of people with disabilities have to be incorporated in the plan and emergency response activities. Similarly, local security firms, hospitals, and firefighting agencies are part and parcel of the plan. As a result, many stakeholders contribute to the success of tackling fire outbreaks (Das et al., 2015). Therefore, the plan is flexible since it has promoted decentralization decision makingresponse.

g. Interoperability and Collaboration

Lastly, interoperability and collaboration entail identification of stakeholders with both complementary or supplementary plans and objectives in the planning process. In this case, all the parties concerned have the core objective of saving lives and property from fire disasters. However, each stakeholder has a unique plan to achieve the objective. For instance, health care facilities are concerned with treating the casualties while firefighting agencies aim at calming the fire down notwithstanding that the plan has involved security firms, building owners and occupiers in planning and implementation of the strategy. Thus, the plan is interoperable and collaborative in many ways, such as decision making and plan implementation stages.

Testing of the Integrated Fire Emergency Management Plan

a) Talk Through Exercises

 In testing, using the talk through exercises, discussions through the plan are necessary. In talking through the plan, policies can be drawn while finalizing the proposed course of actions (Cabinet Office and National Security and Intelligence [CONSI], 2013). Furthermore, this method is critical for a completed plan since it helps in developing awareness through discussions. Therefore, talks through exercises are better for testing to clarify whether stakeholders understand the plan before implementation. In short, this method helps in finding out if the relevant stakeholders understand every plan’s aspect from the resources up to the performance of procedures.

b) Table Top Exercises

Table top exercises are staged events in which the staff and management meet with the sole aim of action responses during emergency scenarios (CONSI, 2013). In this plan, such a tool can test and explore procedures, personnel and physical resources, and recovery details. Since the method involves simulation of an actual disaster without disrupting routine activities on the scene (CONSI, 2013), it can help in assessing the plan’s communication capabilities, as well as collaboration and cooperation of different stakeholders in dealing with fire disasters. Also, the method can test the plan on whether the involved parties understand their roles and responsibilities during emergencies. Table top exercises are necessary because they can test almost all aspects of the plan at a relatively cheap cost, except the time involved in their planning and implementation (CONSI, 2013).

c) Field Exercises

Field exercises are critical in testing and validating fire ERPs. These are live rehearsals in testing communications, logistics, and physical capabilities of a plan (National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management [NDFEM], 2011). They are useful for training of events through which participants gain skills, experience, and confidence in dealing with actual disasters. Such exercises include drills.

This method can test the plan in many aspects. Firstly, it can test whether the relevant emergency stakeholders are adequately prepared for a fire emergency. Secondly, this approach can check the effectiveness and efficiency of coordination of activities, communication, and cooperation among different parties. It is important to perform field exercises since they can educate involved parties about their roles and responsibilities, adequacy of resources, coordination of activities, and preparedness, to name a few (NDFEM, 2011). Exercises will help in identifying areas that are proficient and those in need of improvements. Such a framework is important in coming up with interventions to fill the gaps and weaknesses. Interventions may include training of personnel, equipping various departments, and improving communication systems.

d) Walkthrough Exercises

Finally, walk through exercises entail verbal implementation of procedures as per the plan’s obligation. Objectives of this method are to assess the viability of the plan and uncover design flaws and omissions (CONSI, 2013). This approach helps in plan improvement and education of both the management and staff about the plan, its strategies and implications, and limitations. Regarding this plan, the method will assist in testing all the mentioned aspects and identifying whether it is complete or not. In case of design flaws, omissions and weaknesses, there is room for improvement and inclusion of necessary parts.

Conclusion

The integrated fire emergency management plan gave the guidelines regarding various aspects of handling fire emergencies. This plan’s goals are to reduce emergency response time and prevent or reduce injuries and deaths of people and property destruction. It aims at increasing recovery if a fire outbreak happens. There are activities for implementation towards the realization of the plan’s goals based on the various guidelines and activities for performance that fall into its four phases. The guidelines concern mitigating and preventing fire outbreaks, preparedness of relevant stakeholders to dealing with emergencies, response activities, and recovery programs and activities. Moreover, there are seven items that apply to this plan including acceptability, adequacy, completeness, consistency, and standardization among others.