Michael McLemore 06/29/11

Okay! I admit that I ‘m a bit of a nerd. You all have probably already guessed that, from my previous work in this column. One of the parts of my job that I really enjoy is looking at past response records to determine if we have any trends that we can address. The way(s) that we prevent emergency incidents from occurring (or lessen injury/damages) is via engineering controls, enforcement and or education. I want to explain this concept and share some of what I extracted from our 2010 incident reporting system. This may only appeal to your inner nerd but here goes nothing!

As a definition, engineering controls are best described like the number and width of exits, fire alarm devices, fire sprinklers, etc. required by the fire code. If kept in working order engineering controls save lives and property. Our fire prevention inspectors make visits to ensure that the buildings and systems are being kept in working order. This is the enforcement concept. The education concept is making sure that occupants follow accepted practices like creating evacuation plans, communicating them and practicing them with fire drills. We also assist with making sure that they know how to use portable fire extinguishers, perform fire warden duties during an evacuation, and provide safety information through a variety of avenues, etc.

Subsequently, our fire crews create an incident report following each emergency response. From those we can determine if trends appear by time of day, type of emergency, area of town by census tract or occupancy type. Once we determine that an issue exists we can use any one of the above concepts and or a combination of them to combat the problem. One example is talking to people at business safety briefings and school visits about cooking safety. Because our number one cause of fires is from unattended cooking around 6 pm.

Some additional interesting data:

•    2010 Emergency Response Frequency by Location Type (percent)

•    52% of our calls are to Businesses, Outdoor or Other

•    48 % Residential, Apartment or Hotel

•    6.5% of our calls are to nursing home or retirement facility

•    6.0% are to doctors’ offices or clinics

•    3.0% are to schools or pre schools

In closing, with July 4th approaching, we want to remind everyone that it’s unlawful to possess, transport or ignite consumer fireworks within Sugar Land’s city limits. Moreover, the tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause third-degree burns and can easily catch clothes on fire. The consumer use of sparklers, fountains and novelties alone account for approximately 30 percent of the emergency room fireworks injuries each year. SLFD discourages the use of consumer fireworks, particularly small children handling sparklers! We want you and your family to have a safe and enjoyable July 4. The safest way to enjoy fireworks and celebrate our nation’s birthday is to attend public fireworks displays where only trained personnel will be involved in their use.

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