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Fire Risk Analysis in the City of Los Angeles

Free essay This report on the fire risk analysis in the city of Los Angeles was necessitated by the need for disaster preparedness. It is true that disasters can be better dealt with if there is proper planning of what needs to do. Analysis of the risk requires the use of a complex approach. For this reason, a team comprising the fire officer, three company officers and five members of the fire department was set up to look into the risk of fire in the city. This is a report of what they found out in the study and their recommendations on measures to mitigate the risk. They approached the study in the following steps:

Step 1: The Community Fire Protection System

The Los Angeles fire department is well endowed with resources. They include trucks, pump engines, rescue ambulances, urban search units, rescue units, water rescue units, and Brush patrol units. We also have medical resources and many fire stations located strategically in different parts of the city. The city needs to have enough automatic fire sprinklers. Every fire station in the city needs to have at least two. Every part of the city is prone to fire and none is exempted from this requirement for this reason.

The fire prevention requirements include fire hazards list, proper procedures for handling and storing hazardous material, potential sources of ignition and their control and necessary equipment for fire prevention. There should also be procedures for controlling the accumulation of flammable and combustible materials. Procedures with regard to regular maintenance of safeguarding devices on equipment that produce heat also form a requirement for fire prevention. Another requirement is the employment of personnel to deal with fire accidents when they occur.

Step 2: The Community at Risk

According to the census of 2010, the city had a population of 3,792,621 with a density of 8,092 per square mile. The number of housing units was 1,413,995. This population is expected to grow steadily in the future. The city has many movie theatres, tall buildings, museums, and galleries as well as sports centers. The fires that have occurred in the city in the past were buildings or forest fires. According to the data from the Los Angeles fire department, the acreage burnt has been increasing. It shows 31,625, 6,599 and 1,857 in the years 2013, 2012 and 2011 respectively.

The target fire hazard is the mountainous region of the city. It is made up of the community of Baldwin Hills, Hollywood, Mount Washington, Westwood, and surrounding areas. Taking an example of Hollywood, it is clear that with its high population and many movie theatres, it is a hazardous area. The area is made up of the young population mainly. The fact that the area is hazardous has made the installation of fire alarms and other detection devices a priority. Movie theatres are well equipped to prevent fire occurrence and protect lives in case fires occur.

There is a high occupancy known as Mozaic at union station, 888 N Almeda Street. It is close to the city hall and Olvera Street. There are 24-hour amenities which include a fitness center, spa, rooftop pool, screening room, internet caf? and billiards room. This occupancy may present a target fire hazard. Sprinklers and other fire protection devices are available. Fire alarms have also been installed in the building. The building appears modern and construction was completed just two years ago. The housekeeping is generally good. There are no poke-throughs in the walls and the ceiling. The building normally has five hundred occupants every single time. The age of the occupants is a mixture of the young and the old since it is a social center. However, the majority are young people who are ambulatory. There are adequate entry points but the exit may be problematic since the front yard has a swimming pool and the backyard is fully fenced. Most of the occupants have not received any evacuation training since they are not permanent residents.

The fire flow requirement in a fire occurring at a movie theatre in Hollywood would be 3000 gallons per minute. Using the handheld lines which deliver about 100 gallons per minute would require 30 firefighting personnel. If larger stream appliances are used, fewer personnel would be needed since the flow would be 300 gallons per minute requiring only 10 workers. No water flow test has been carried within the last three years. There is a need to make a list of the sources of water available and the amount of water that would be needed to extinguish a fire in a particular occupancy. The study revealed that there is occupancy in the city that would exceed the demand of a fire flow of 3000 gallons per minute. More resources should be put in place to acquire better equipment.

The fire management areas are clearly spelled out. Each area has been allocated a specific number of workers and resources such as rescue ambulances. The addresses of the nearest fire stations are available. The north division of the Los Angeles fire department has 114 fire management areas while its southern counterpart has 112.

Step 3: The Fire Suppression Capability

The Los Angeles fire department is organized into a number of bureaus and two operational divisions. These are the south and the north division. The commander of each bureau is a deputy chief while that of a bureau is an assistant chief. The assistant chief is a commander of seven battalions. Each battalion is made up of seven to eleven fire stations. The commander of every battalion is the chief per shift. The department has 106 fire stations with 14 battalions.

The department has both light forces and task forces. The department plans to increase the number of workers in order to deal with incidents as they occur appropriately. During busier times, the department uses the strategy of workers doing overtime to reduce the strain on the scarce resource. The service time for emergency operations is 5 minutes while that for non-emergency operations is 10 minutes.

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Our communications system is set in such a way that every seven fire stations have one command center from where directions are given to officers in the field. Communication is done using radio calls. For emergency services, the department uses the enhanced 911 system. The department uses the 800 Megahertz radio system. There are plans to improve this system by introducing auxiliary communications services. The system has good interoperability with other agencies such as the police department. We do not share the frequency with any other agency. There is four available frequency channel, the ones used routinely are 800 and 700 Hz. The mutual aid frequency is 154 280000000 Hz. The hospital emergency administrative radio is based on the 100 MHz frequency. This very high-frequency channel is only allowed for use in mutual aid situations. In cases of major emergencies, mutual aid resources are shared at neighboring local and state levels.

Step 4: The Unprotected Risk

There is an imbalance between the risk and the capability to suppress it (Barr & Eversole, 2003). It is a situation where the forces available cannot respond adequately to a particular fire risk. The unprotected risk needs to be reduced by increasing the capability of suppressing the risk. The owners of different properties should be made aware that the department will not always be in a position to protect them. Engineering of the protective systems through alarms, ordinances, and codes should be done. Law enforcement should be carried out by ensuring that owners install fire protection mechanisms in their property.

The source of water should be improved and new fire stations established in areas where they are lacking. If they are ill located they should be relocated to favorable areas. The mode of communication also needs to be improved to match the needs of the department. The addition of another frequency channel and mutual aid would be an important step. The level of risk acceptable is the risk that the community can live with. If many fires occur simultaneously, the unprotected risk increases in the city. The master plan here is the education of the community on situations that the fire department is incapable of controlling by itself. The community needs to be made aware of the need to increase taxes in order to fund suppression activities. People should be made to understand the need for strict law enforcement (Barr & Eversole, 2003). After the department chief is convinced that all this has been done, then the concept of acceptable risk comes in.

Step 5: Strategies to Consider

After the evaluation of all the information gathered, the suggested strategies are included in this part. The city needs to establish an accident review panel for checking, recommending and determining causes of fires. A committee for the reduction of injuries through preparedness and prevention should also be established. The fire department should establish quality assurance groups which will be headed by assistant chiefs and made up of personnel of various categories. The community should also be educated about the importance of fire prevention and the need to install fire safety equipment in their households. The fire department should carry out home inspections to ensure that houses meet basic requirements for fire prevention (Barr & Eversole, 2003). The adoption of modern techniques of a fire fighting strategy should be made a priority. An example is the improvement of hose pipes to make fire flow better. Finally, the fire department should increase awareness of the public through the use of advertisements on television and radio stations.

The availability of land for expansion has a role to play in determining the location of a fire station. When setting up a fire station, the current trends of land use and construction of residential houses must be put in perspective (Barr & Eversole, 2003). Then there is the need to improve the response time in emergencies from the current five minutes to four minutes which is the community standard.

The two other fire agencies which we can compare our department with is the Chicago fire department and the New York fire department. Our fire protection cost per capita was higher than that of the Chicago fire department although our department received more fire alarms. Fire risk insurance rating in the community should serve as a guide on how well the department is performing.

Additional Considerations

Our final goal is to increase the preparedness of employees, training of citizens and making the department’s role in the community known. The department needs to consolidate the effort with other departments and create a contingency water supply. There is a need to improve employees’ fitness and skills in disaster management.

Final Recommendation

It was recommended by the fire chief, the staff, labor unions, and employees that the community should be involved in fire protection. Analyzed data of recent fires should be displayed in public meetings to make citizens aware of the fire risk.

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