From time to time, we like to share perspectives from members in our connected communities. We’d like to thank Greg Jakubowski, a licensed Fire Protection Engineer and Certified Safety Professional, with decades of service as a fire chief officer for his perspective concerning the importance of pre-planning and an overview of his cloud-based pre-incident planning application, Blazemark. While Harrington Group is not endorsing Blazemark, we do feel it’s important to share information that is available to assist our blog visitors with their fire safety goals. If you’ve had experience with Blazemark, or any other pre-incident planning software (such as The Fire Zone or Streetwise CAD Link), please share your experience with us in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you!

Building design and Fire Protection Engineering continues to break new ground in both concept and implementation. Building owners and developers want buildings to look good, perform well, and minimize their cost/investment, which results in innovative new ways to build and protect these buildings. In some cases, building and protection features that have not been proven in emergency incidents are utilized. While this may achieve the end result for the owners/developers, the end users may or may not have familiarity with how these features perform and should be used during an emergency.

This is where the pre-fire plan comes in. The International Fire Code® in Chapter 14 requires buildings under construction, renovation, and demolition to develop and maintain a pre-fire plan in cooperation with the fire chief. This document becomes the “user manual” for both emergency responders, and building maintenance/operations personnel to understand how the building should perform and operate in an emergency. NFPA 1620-2010, “Standard for Pre-Incident Planning,” sets the roadmap for accomplishing this plan. Pre-incident planning not only ensures that building features perform properly, but also minimizes risk to occupants and responders as well as business interruption for the building occupants.

An excellent tool for providing that “operational manual” and building intelligence is Blazemark®, the industry leading pre-incident planning application from Fire Planning Associates, Inc. Blazemark is a secure cloud-based application that permits cataloguing critical infrastructure and facilities with items such as floor plans, annotated photos, GIS information and other details that both facilities management and first responders need to keep an incident small and manageable. Internal and external resources are all working off of a common and secure platform to minimize interruption by emergency situations. Information that facilities management or EHS teams might need to see, but external responders might not need to be privy to, is easily segmented for “eyes only’ use. Clients are able to document their confined spaces and more easily stay compliant with OSHA as well as seeing benefits to their internal fire and safety audits. Having the pre plans online also lends itself very well for facilitating tabletop drills and training for both internal and external resources. Some property and casualty insurers offer premium discounts to their clients for having pre-plans.

Information from Blazemark can be directly monitored in police and fire responder vehicles, as well as by command personnel on tablets or other “smart” devices. If the facility has security cameras, they too, can be linked in to provide immediate live camera feeds in the pre-plan if the facility so wishes. The program is fully interoperable, and can easily be accessed by corporate incident management team members offsite.  A good example of how Blazemark was used occurred during a 2012 active shooter incident in Pennsylvania (that originated in Virginia), in the middle of Hurricane Irene. Fortunately, the event happened while a preplanned facility was closed, but the pre plan and camera integration allowed the local police chief to ensure the suspect was not taking cover in that facility.

As fire protection engineers, we ensure that buildings and other structures get the fire and safety features needed to meet code as well as the requirements of other stakeholders during the design process.  But we need to take a step further and ensure that those that will be charged to operate and respond to those structures over their lifetime are provided with the intelligence they need to manage emergencies that may occur years or decades after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Blazemark® can help to make that happen.

Greg Jakubowski, P.E., CSP, FSFPE

Principal and Chief Engineer

Fire Planning Associates, Inc.

Washington Crossing, PA

[email protected]