Special Report: Fire Prevention Organization in the ARFF Environment Published: April 2016
Table of Contents
Introduction Part I: State of Fire Prevention Organization in ARFF Departments Part II: Determining Adequate Staffing Needs About the Author
Introduction I am a conference junkie. I love going to conferences, seminars, and training classes. They are electrifying! You leave the best ones feeling refreshed, inspired, and motivated. These events provide great opportunities to learn new skills, meet smart people, and discover better ways of doing the work. At these conferences we often find ourselves meeting several people and asking them the same set of questions. In our industry these questions may look like: ● How big is your department? ● How much area does your airport cover? ● Who handles fire prevention? ● What are fire prevention organizations responsibilities? ● What does your rank structure look like? We ask these questions for several reasons. We ask them because we seek improved production and efficiency. We inquire about department size, personnel, and tasks to see how much is getting done with how many people. We are looking for “gold”. We are looking for the definitive answer, program, system, or individual, that will solve all our biggest problems. We ask because we are looking for a baseline. We are looking for the something that we can compare our operations and tasks too. This report was created to compile the answers to these questions in one location. A nineteen question survey was created. The survey questions addressed three functional areas within fire prevention organizations in ARFF departments staffing, facilities, tasks. The responses in this report are a representative sampling of survey responses from around the world. Part I of this report provides a snapshot of fire prevention organization within ARFF departments. In this section of the report, the survey questions and responses are displayed. Part II of the report provides guidance, direction, and a solution to the biggest challenges departments are currently facing, budget and personnel retention. The original survey can be viewed at: Fire Prevention Organization ARFF, part 1: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CMGFKPJ Fire Prevention Organization ARFF, part 2: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CMHG7HS
Part I: State of Fire Prevention Organization in ARFF Departments Below is the list of survey questions with the top responses in each category. Staffing: Who provides airport fire protection services? Airport authority/independent district What is the title of the highest ranking individual responsible for fire prevention? Fire Chief How many personnel make up your ARFF department? 020 How many personnel have primary responsibilities for fire prevention activities? 25 How many levels of supervision do inspectors have? 1 (reports to Fire Chief) What work schedule do fire prevention personnel work? MonFri (8 hr. days) Are fire prevention personnel and duties organized according to NFPA 1730? No What divisions, if applicable, are fire prevention personnel divided into? Plan review, life safety, public education (partial/50% response) Facilities: How many fire stations protect the airport/provide ARFF services? 1 What is the total square footage of your facilities? 0100,000/1,000,001+ How many square miles do your facilities cover? 25 Tasks: What tasks are fire prevention personnel responsible for? Life safety, fuel farm, systems Is fire protection/detection system ITM conducted by internal personnel? No (if so, FD personnel) Does fire prevention manage or oversee these contracts? No What is the primary method used to record and document inspection activities? Paper/Firehouse/Mix To which groups are public education programs directed toward? Airport employees What types of public education programs are offered? Fire extinguisher training How are public education programs offered or provided? Asneeded by request
What is the biggest challenge that you are currently facing? Budget Personnel retention
Who provides airport fire protection (ARFF) services?
What is the title of the highest ranking individual responsible for fire prevention?
How many personnel make up your ARFF department?
How many personnel have primary responsibilities for fire prevention activities?
How many levels of supervision do inspectors have?
What work schedule do fire prevention personnel work?
If your fire prevention personnel are Are your fire prevention personnel and further divided into divisions, what are duties organized according to NFPA those divisions? 1730?
How many fire stations protect the airport/provide ARFF services?
What is the total square footage of your facilities?
How many square miles do your facilities cover?
What tasks are fire prevention personnel responsible for?
Is fire protection/detection system inspection/testing/maintenance conducted by internal personnel?
If fire protection/detection system ITM is conducted by others, does fire prevention manage or oversee the contract?
What is the primary method used to record and document inspection activities?
To which of the following groups are public education programs directed toward?
What types of public education programs do you offer?
How are public education programs offered or provided?
What is your biggest challenge? #1 Response: Budget #2 Response: Personnel Retention
Part II: Determining Adequate Staffing Needs How many people do we really need to do the work of fire prevention? NFPA 1730, Standard on Organization and Deployment of Fire Prevention Inspection and Code Enforcement, Plan Review, Investigation, and Public Education Operations1 , provides a framework to answer this very question. Fire prevention staffing levels can be determined by applying the 5 step process outlined in Annex C of NFPA 1730. Step 1: Outline all services provided by the fire prevention organization. Start the staff needs analysis process by listing all services provided, functions performed, and activities conducted. This should be an exhaustive and comprehensive list. The list should include all activities, no matter how many times they are performed or how much time they take. Example: TASK Life safety inspections Fuel farm inspections Fire protection system inspection/testing/maintenance (ITM) Step 2: Determine time demand for each task. Determine the amount of time it takes to complete each task, function, and activity listed in step 1. This should include all components such as, preparation time, scheduling, research, conducting the activity, report writing, and any followup. You will need to determine the time each of these take on an annual basis.
Example: Life safety inspections Time per task = 2 hours Number of buildings to be inspected = 50 Number of inspections per year = 1 Total annual time required = 100 hours Fuel farm/equipment inspections Time per task = 4 hours Number of fuel farms to be inspected = 1 Number of inspections per year = 4 Total annual time required = 16 hours Fire protection system ITM Time per task = 6 hours Number of inspections per year = 18 Total annual time required = 108 hours TASK
TOTAL TIME (hrs./yr.)
Life safety inspections
Fuel farm inspections
Fire protection system ITM
Step 3: Determine total personnel hours required to complete activities. Add up the total amount of hours required for all tasks and activities. If your organization has many different tasks, programs, and functions, these can be divided into groups to simplify, or further analyze the total hours required.
TOTAL TIME (hrs./yr.)
Life safety inspections
Fuel farm inspections
Fire protection system ITM Total activity hours
108 hrs./yr. 224 hrs./yr
Step 4: Calculate personnel total availability. This formula will determine the amount of hours that each employee will have available. This must account for holidays, vacation, sick, training, and other times that the employee will not be available for work. Total annual work hours
Less annual leave and holiday hours
Less estimated sick leave hours
Less annual training hours
Total work hours available
Step 5: Calculate total number of personnel required to perform tasks. To determine the total amount of fulltime employees that are needed to perform all fire prevention functions and tasks, divide the total task hours by the total available work hours. Total task hours / total available work hours = total personnel required Fractional values can be rounded up or down. If the number is rounded up it can provide reserve capacity and provide some ‘cushion’. If the number is rounded down, this could result in overtime or increased workload for personnel.
Example: 224 (total task hours) / 1815 (total available work hours) = .12 (total personnel needed) The information gathered from going through this process serves multiple purposes. It shows the need for additional staff and budget justification , it shows the amount of time invested in various fire prevention functions and can demonstrate the communities ROI , it lets you see the challenge level and workload of fire prevention personnel. BONUS SECTION: What is your challenge level?2
All people fall into one of the three categories above. The under challenged do not have enough interesting work to keep them engaged. They are not provided with enough work to do. The under challenged usually leave organizations for a more challenging position. The appropriately challenged usually have just the right amount of work and task to accomplish. However, they are not being stretched and are only maintaining, not creating. The dangerously overchallenged are working themselves to death, often at a high cost to themselves and those around them.
“Creating Challenges”, http://thecodecoach.blogspot.com/2013/02/creatingchallenges.html
Most employees fall into the upper under challenged/lower appropriately challenged area (see yellow box). People's best work is accomplished when they are working/functioning in the lower third of the dangerously overchallenged level (see red box). An added benefit of performing the staffing needs analysis is that supervisors can see what an employee’s challenge level is. If they are overworked, they can make moves to bring in additional staff or spread the workload so that burnout does not occur. If the personnel is under challenged, additional tasks can be assigned, or the individual could be moved to a more challenging role.
About the Author Aaron Johnson has more than a decade of fire protection/life safety/code compliance experience. He has provided expertise for NFPA 409 facility upgrade projects, consulted for fire protection of fuel farms, organized fire prevention bureaus, and conducted multiple fire risk assessments. He is an active member of several fire protection committees including: ● ● ● ●
NFPA 418, Standard for Heliports NFPA 101 and NFPA 5000 – Industrial, Storage, and Miscellaneous Occupancies NFPA 220, NFPA 221, and NFPA 5000 – Building Construction International Fire Code (IFC) Development Committee
Aaron is the author of, Risk Assessments for Aviation Facilities. H e has published more than 400 books, article, reports, white papers, and blog posts on fire protection and life safety topics. He regularly speaks at industry conferences. His fire protection and life safety writing, analysis, and articles can be found on is website, TheCodeCoach.com .
Published on Apr 1, 2016
This report examines current airport fire department fire prevention organizational structures, staffing, and responsibilities. Part I of t...