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FIR-1.11 - Unsafe Buildings Alert Program

UNSAFE BUILDINGS ALERT PROGRAM

Administrative Rule Adopted by Portland Fire & Rescue Pursuant to Rule-Making Authority

ARB-FIR-1.11

 


 

I.    GENERAL

 

A. This policy is established January 15, 2008.

 

B. Applies to all commercial occupancies where PF&R has authority.

 

C. This policy will improve coordination between the Fire Marshal's Office (FMO) and the Emergency Operations Division (EOPS). It provides a tool for identifying structures that due to their construction, use, or their state of maintenance; pose extraordinary hazards to emergency personnel. It requires documentation of dangerous situations and communicating that information though predetermined channels. This policy encourages an active working relationship between the FMO and EOPS, and ultimately improves firefighter safety.

 

D. It is intended that buildings entered into the "Unsafe Buildings List" will only be those that pose extraordinary threat to firefighters. It is felt that if the program becomes too broad, that the alert from dispatch may go unheeded.

 

E. It is intended that all members involved in emergency response will be made aware of situations that are inherently dangerous to life.

 

II.   SPECIFIC

 

A.   REFERENCES

 

a. 2007 Portland Fire Code (PFC)

b. 2007 Oregon Structural Specialty Code as adopted by Portland

 

B.   DEFINITIONS

 

1. Process Hazard: Such things as acid dip tanks or the manufacture of biological agents. Note: Storage or use of hazardous materials is not part of this notification process; they are identified by the 704 placard system (see FMO Policy G-5).

2. Structural Hazards: Building structural members showing severe dry rot, iron members rusted through, concrete spalled or crumbling, etc.; building types historically proven to be flawed, such as bowstring trusses; illegal and ill-advised renovations where structural components are weakened or removed and will leave the building weakened.

3. Contents: Some common materials such as paper are a concern when firefighting water is absorbed causing extreme loads on building members.

4. Unsafe Buildings Coordinator: Chief Scott Beyers is assigned to coordinate the EOPS portion of the Unsafe Building Alert Program Policy. He has been assigned the administrative duty of overseeing the program.

 

III.  PROCEDURES

 

A.   EOPS INITIATED ALERT

 

1. In the event an imminently dangerous situation is discovered, contact the FMO directly, 503-823-3700 and ask for the Senior Inspector on phones; in their absence contact the Deputy Chief Fire Marshal (DCFM); and if no one is available in the FMO, contact the On-Duty Deputy Chief (C-103).

2. Follow up with an FMO Company Referral (PFB Form 300.07) and include the reason the structure/process/contents are believed dangerous.

3. E-mail the form to "FMO Company Referrals".

 

B.   FMO INITIATED ALERT/DISTRICT INSPECTOR RESPONSIBILITY

 

1. This policy encourages direct communication between District Inspectors and EOPS personnel on an informal level. As stated in the "General" section of this policy, buildings entered into the "Unsafe Buildings List" will only be those that are deemed to pose an extraordinary threat to the safety of firefighters. That said, there is value to Fire Inspectors directly notifying the first-in response companies when buildings or processes could pose complications to emergency service workers, but do not rise to the danger that this policy addresses.

   a. District Inspectors are encouraged to inform the first-in EOPS personnel of issues they find in their area.

2. When a District Inspector believes a structure is inherently dangerous to firefighters, they should collect following information:

   a. Building address

   b. Building owner's name and contact information

   c. The reason the structure/process/contents are believed to be dangerous

3. Make immediate contact with the Senior Inspector on phones; in his/her absence the DCFM; and if no one is available in the FMO, contact the On-Duty C-103.

4. Follow up with a written report to the DCFM. The report shall include as much information as possible about the hazards, whether the hazards are believed to be legal, and options to abate the illegal hazards.

5. The District Inspector, or DCFM designee, will write the appropriate violation notices to the building owner/occupant and follow the violations through to abatement.

6. Upon designation as an "Unsafe Building", pertinent information will be entered in FIRES2000:

   a. Check the "Unsafe Building" box on the Field Data Form. 

   b. Enter narrative information under the "Hazards" tab for the location.

   c. Pictures can also be attached to the FIRES2000 file. 

7. When appropriate, the District Inspector, or DCFM designee, will give notice to the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) dangerous building inspectors and/or building inspectors regarding the state of the designated unsafe building.

8. The District Inspector or DCFM designee shall be the contact point for BDS inspectors to report buildings in which they have safety concerns.

 

C.   DEPUTY CHIEF FIRE MARSHAL

 

1. If an Unsafe Building notification is received from an EOPS company, the DCFM may order a District Inspector to report to the address to verify the fire company's findings and provide guidance as to the legal standing of the situation.

2. The DCFM acts as a first screen. He/she should consider the information gathered by the District Inspector (whether it is EOPS initiated, or FMO initiated) and make an initial determination whether the building/process poses an extraordinary hazard to firefighters.

3. If the DCFM deems that building meets the standards for listing as an "Unsafe Building", he/she will make notification to C-103 via e-mail with an attachment containing the information that has been compiled for the building in question.

4. If the situation appears to merit the BDS classification of a "Dangerous Building," BDS will be notified. If BDS evaluates the building and it is deemed a "Dangerous Building", the DCFM will notify Chief Scott Beyers of the BDS listing.

5. Once a building is identified as an "Unsafe Building" by the C-103, the DCFM, or their designee, will be available to assist EOPS as needed.

 

D.   DEPUTY CHIEF (C-103) AND BATTALION 1 (Chief Scott Beyers)

 

1. C-103 will review the information provided by the FMO. C-103 may direct Chief Beyers and the responsible Battalion Chief to conduct an on-site visit for additional follow-up and recommendations.

2. If C-103 deems that the building meets the criteria for identifying it as an unsafe building, Chief Beyers will be directed to develop "Premise Information" for the building to be inserted into the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. C-103 will review the Premise Information and then direct Chief Beyers to forward the information to BOEC for insertion.

3. C-103 will contact the DCFM and request that the building be placed on the "Unsafe Buildings" list.

4. If C-103 determines that the building does not require the unsafe building designation they will communicate this decision to the DCFM.

 

E.   FIRE LIAISON AT THE BUREAU OF ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS (BOEC)

 

1. Chief Beyers will forward the premise information for an unsafe building to the Fire Liaison at BOEC. The Fire Liaison will in turn enter the information into the CAD system.

 

F.   EOPS COMPANY ACTIONS UPON NOTIFICATION

 

1. Chief Beyers will notify first-in companies and chief officers via e-mail. The unsafe building will also appear in FIRES2000 on the "Unsafe Buildings List".

2. Upon receiving the unsafe building information, Battalion Chiefs will communicate with their companies as to the best plan of action. The primary first-in company may be directed to take one or more of the following actions:

   a. Verify if a current Pre-fire Survey is available.

   b. Conduct an on site visit; this may consist of an exterior evaluation only. If a prefire survey for the building is not on file, this visit could be used to produce one.

   c. Conduct a multi-company familiarization drill.

   d. Contact your District Inspector for additional information and training.

 

   Chief Beyers and the respective Battalion Chief will confer with companies as to the best plan of action.

 

3. Emergency Response:

   a. When companies are dispatched to a location with a direct hit on a building address for a structure that is designated as an unsafe building, fire dispatchers will make a verbal announcement over the radio to responding companies that the structure at the dispatched location is designated as an "Unsafe Building".

   b. While enroute, or upon arrival, Incident Commanders must access the Premise Information on the Mobile Data Computer (MDC) and take into account the condition of the structure when formulating an incident action plan. They should reconsider standard strategy and tactics when operating on-scene at a structure identified as an unsafe building.

   c. Consider the risk versus the benefit of what can be accomplished before committing personnel to an interior fire and/or rescue operations. Take into account occupants reported to be trapped, occupants known to be missing or unaccounted for at the scene, exposures, potential for structural collapse, extent and time of fire involvement, etc.

 

G.   POSTING SIGNAGE FOR UNSAFE BUILDINGS

 

1. The C-103 will determine if is prudent to post signs on the building to warn firefighters that the building is unsafe. Signage will follow the Portland Fire Code standard for placarding vacant premises, currently Section 311.

2. "Exterior Operations, Enter Only for Known Life Hazard", shall be designated by a white "X" on a square red background. This shall be clearly visible from the street.

3. "Interior Operations with Extreme Caution" shall be designated by a white diagonal line on a square red background. This shall be clearly visible from the street.

4. Signage will be available from the Fire Marshal's Office Code Enforcement Section at 1300 SE Gideon Street.

 

H.   MAINTENANCE OF DANGEROUS SITUATION LIST

 

1. A report listing Unsafe Buildings can be generated from FIRES2000.

2. The DCFM, or designee, is responsible for maintaining the "Unsafe Buildings List".

3. The DCFM, or designee, will maintain contact with the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) inspectors to keep a timely record of all buildings designated as an "Unsafe Building" or "Dangerous Building" by either the Fire Bureau or BDS.

 

I.    REMOVAL OF COMPLIANT SITUATIONS

 

1. When a Dangerous Situation is determined to no longer be a threat, the information shall be forwarded to the DCFM, or designee, to be removed from the "Unsafe Buildings List".

2. The DCFM, or designee, shall notify Chief Beyers who will modify the current CAD Premise Information and forward the updated status to BOEC.

3. The responsible Inspector shall update FIRES2000 if appropriate.

 


HISTORY

 

Policy originally adopted by Fire Marshall as FMO Policy CE A-11, effective January 15, 2008.

Policy revised by Chief of Portland Fire & Rescue and filed for inclusion in PPD July 31, 2008.