Firesafety is one thing that all of us, everyday must think about and remember tofollow all laws set forth by our community to keep us safe and out of harm’sway. For decades fires have been an ongoing danger to the public and people’spersonal lives. Just a couple years ago I got to look into fire safety and thedangers it can cause from a first-hand experience in my own home. When I wasyounger my family had a fire in our garage from an outdated water heated thatwas kept on a wood bench to elevate it off the ground.
As you may be able totell the flames from the heater were able to catch on the wood structureigniting it into flames. For the next several months the fire affected myfamily in many ways. Being able to go through a firsthand experience of a firehas opened my eyes to the consideration and the study of fire safety in ourcommunity with dedication and time I hope to spread this consideration to thepublic and educate them in the way of fire safety.
In the following paragraphs I will touch onFire safety laws and operations in our community. I will also touch on thehistory of fire safety laws, and I will discuss the consequences of tamperingwith fire safety equipment and the harm that can come to myself and others. Weall must remember to keep an open mind and explore new ways to prevent thespread of dangerous fires around our community that may injure us or peoplearound us. I will first touch on the history offire safety laws, fire safety dates as far back as the middle ages. One exampleof fire safety in the middle ages is when Williamthe Conqueror required all fires to be extinguished at night. To do this themost popular method was to use a metal cover that was put over the fire toexclude the air like snuffing out a candle. From the middle ages we move ontothe 12th century when the mayor of London required that houses bebuilt of stone and that thatched roves were not permitted; party walls alsowere required to be a minimum height and thickness.
Next, we visit the 14thcentury, it is at this moment during the late 14th century wherechimneys came into use. With chimneys coming into use being made from hollowedout logs this presents more problems regarding fires. In the 15thcentury these hollowed out log chimneys became outlawed, in Scotland therebecame consequences for those who caused fires. In the 17th centurywe see the great fire of London that occurred at the end of the hot summer andburned for 4 days destroying five sixths of the city. Only six lives were lostin this fire, but it was declared a national disaster and London acquires itsfirst set of building codes regarding fire safety.
In 1666 King Charles issuesa proclamation that all walls must be built of stone rather then wood given theidea that wood is a fuel for burning fires while stone is not flammable. Themain streets were also to be widened to reduce fire spread, and surveys weremade of every owned plot. In 1698 it was declared that no building should begreater then five stories.
Moving onto the 18th century we see theFires prevention act come into picture, This Act listed buildings into 7classes with thickness of external walls and party walls laid down for eachclass. The act also includes previsions that reduced the maximum area warehousescould take up. This is where we also saw fire escapes come into play whereladders were placed outside walls of buildings in the event of an emergencywhere occupants may need to get out in the quickest way possible. In 1794 firesafety turned to Theatres who had been taking their fair share of incidentsinvolving fire. An iron safety curtain was put into play in theatres as well asa water tank that was stored on the roof in the event of a fire.
The 19thcentury where we see our first fire fighters come into action. The fire engineestablishment in October 1824 consisted of 80-part time fire fighters withbuilding experience. The Chief Officer of this fire engine, James Braidwood hada new way of fighting these fires his crews would be highly trained in enteringbuildings and fighting the fires at their base. In 1844 the Metropolitanbuilding act was introduced, although it would not make many changes inconstructional requirements for fire it would change the 7 classes and reducethem to three classes which were namely Dwelling Houses, Warehouses and PublicBuildings. Warehouses would also be limited to 200,000 cubic feet. In 1847 theTownes improvement act resulted in the purchase of an increased number of fireengines. Moving on the 20th century we see A fire that had occurredon Queen Victoria Street, London on June 9th, 1902, in which eightpeople were trapped on the top floor and many girls threw themselves to deathon the pavement rather than being burnt to death.
This fire resulted in thechecking of certain buildings that did not follow specific building regulationsthat were set forth to keep people safe from the possibility of a fire. In the21st century firefighters were treated with more respect and got anincrease in pay under the fire services act of 2003. Next, I would like to focus on thelaws that are put into place in our community in todays times to prevent firesfrom spreading around our community.
Today the NFPA or the National Fire Protection Association has come upwith over 300 codes and standard to be followed. These codes consist of thingslike codes on fire extinguishers to make sure they are properly functioning, codeson fire alarms, sprinkles, other fire safety equipment, etc. Arson is a seriousfederal crime in todays society, arson is the act of setting a fire on purposeto cause harm to people or property. In terms of consequences of arson thereare two different types If the dwelling burned was occupied at the time of theburning, the offense is arson in the first degree and is punishable as a ClassD felony. If the dwelling burned was howevernot occupied at the time of the burning, the offense is arson in the seconddegree and is punishable as a Class G felony. Both felony are punishable byimprisonment. In the Washington state Legislature is also said that “Any personwho willfully and without cause tampers with, molests, injures or breaks anypublic or private fire alarm apparatus, emergency phone, radio, or other wireor signal, or any firefighting equipment, or who willfully and without havingreasonable grounds for believing a fire exists, sends, gives, transmits, orsounds any false alarm of fire, by shouting in a public place or by means ofany public or private fire alarm system or signal, or by telephone, is guiltyof a misdemeanor. This provision shall not prohibit the testing of fire alarmsystems by persons authorized to do so, by a fire department or the chief ofthe Washington state patrol, through the director of fire protection.
“Thisbeing said it is always important to remember that fire safety is very seriousin todays society and tampering with fire safety equipment can not only putothers in danger but also yourself. Lastly, I want to talk about theharm that can come to you and others if you tamper with fire equipment. In 2017there were 280 civilian fire deaths, 1075 civilianfire injuries, and $933 million in property damage. Fires can be a very seriousissue in today’s society, but we can prevent them. A key aspect of fire safetyis to remember that that equipment you see in your everyday life was put thereto help you stay safe, we can make a difference by not tampering with thatequipment.
Also remember to have a plan in the event that a fire ever doesbreak out in your community we can all stay safe if we stick to what we knowabout the dangers of fire. I know now that tampering with fire equipment is aserious issue and would never think of doing so, I prefer to keep those aroundme safe and will continue to spread the word about fire safety. I hope that Iwas able to inform you in the previous paragraphs of how important fire safetyis. Next time you go out into public and see something a little off, or seefire equipment out of place be sure to let someone know we can all make adifference if we work together and spend a little more time focusing on firesafety.