Boost in firefighting services a hot topic

Boost in firefighting services a hot topic Olivia Olarte-Ulherr / 29 May 2013 Detailed investigation and analysis of the circumstances surrounding a fire incident, big or small, are imperative to improving firefighting services and operational procedures, an expert says. “We don’t put enough emphasis into what we should be doing…The amount of time and effort that is spent on the investigation of fires is not enough. We need to be spending time analysing the fire, not just the cause of the fire,” said Peter Holland, an adviser to the UK’s Department for Communities and Local Government. “Most fire investigations done around the world are very much focused on the cause of the fire, it needs to be focusing more on analysing the circumstances around that fire,” he stressed. The new or modern methods of (building) construction pose a huge challenge globally to firefighting services, Holland said. People need to learn that fires sometimes behave differently from what was initially thought. “We need to look at the structure and how that behaves, but we also need to look at the content and how they are behaving. Modern materials are being used inside our homes, our buildings, we need to gather that information more quickly and we need to gather it not just from the tragedies, not just from the big fires, but we need to gather it from smaller fires,” said the fire chief of over 40 years. Speaking on Tuesday at the third annual Fire Safety Technology Forum in the Capital, Holland, who is also the international president of the Institution of Fire Engineers, underscored the importance of “gathering evidence” to help review standards, testing regimes and operational procedures. “It’s about collation of that information and reviewing it so that we improve our test standards, we improve our building regulations, our buildings codes to ensure that they are fit for purpose for the future.”  Disaster Victim Identification Casualty tracking is important in the management of a major incident, said Richard Gordon, director of Bournemouth University International Disaster Management in the UK. In his presentation at the forum, Gordon highlighted the benefits of having a dedicated missing person unit or a place the public can call to inquire about their family members suspected to be involved in a big accident. This, he said, would help effectively lead the public away from the accident site. “Dead or not, we need to know who you are…according to Interpol, you and I have the right not to lose our identity because you died away from home,” Gordon pointed out. The physical description of each missing person gathered from relatives often helped easily identify people, especially those involved in an “open event” or when an accident happened in public places with large mass gatherings. “We want to provide that care, so that people don’t lose that identity,” Gordon said. Taylor Scott International

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