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Fire Safety Technicians

History

Fires in homes and at workplaces are the greatest destroyers of human life and property. Every year thousands of people in the United States die due to fires. Property destroyed by fire costs billions of dollars each year. In some states, grass or brush fires periodically rage uncontrolled and advance at the speed of the wind; buildings are destroyed and livestock is lost. Forest fires consume millions of feet of lumber every year. Some fires increase the problems of wildlife conservation and flood control, requiring that considerable sums be spent on reforestation programs.

In the early days of the United States, fire protection was usually left to a few volunteers in a community. This group formed a fire brigade and had simple fire-fighting devices. Later, fire departments were established and fire-fighting equipment became more sophisticated. Even so, fire protection was still mostly left to a small group. As cities grew and large industrial plants were built, it became apparent that fire prevention was possibly even more important than fire-fighting skills and techniques.

Today, business and industrial firms realize that fire protection is one of the most important considerations in the construction and operation of their plants. Fire insurance rates are determined by fire probability factors, such as the type of construction, ease of transporting personnel, and the quality and quantity of fire protection equipment available. Managers realize that payments from fire insurance claims will not cover the total loss caused by fire—lost production or sales. Employees expect their employers to have warning systems and fire-extinguishing devices. The public expects fire departments to be well staffed with competent specialists and firefighters who can minimize property damage and save lives. Their jobs involve rescuing people from fire, giving safety education courses, and conducting inspections, which may include a thorough examination of exits, corridors, and stairways designed to carry traffic in an emergency.

The need for carefully planned, well-organized fire protection has created a demand for highly trained personnel. Specialists are needed who are skilled in the newest methods of fire prevention and fire fighting. Such specialists are also familiar with new synthetic materials used in building construction, decorative drapes, floor coverings, furnishings, and even clothing. These materials have made fire protection more complicated because of the toxic fumes they produce when burned.

Because of all of these factors, an increasing number of well-trained fire safety technicians are being hired by business, industry, and other employers to prevent loss of life and property from fires while people are on the job, in school, in recreational or entertainment places, or traveling.