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On September 13, 2014, you were appointed to your fire service organization (Fire Department) Fire Prevention Division (FPD). You have been with the department for 10 years—four have been as captain assigned to a fire suppression company. You were selected from among six candidates because you earned a college degree in fire administration and management. In terms of seniority, you are number three, with two above you and three below you.
However, seniority was a qualification that was given low priority for appointment as the primary qualification was education and training. Prior to your appointment, the FPD was staffed by the senior-most captain of the department, who often did not have any formal education or training in fire codes, standards, or regulations. Rather, that person learned from on-the-job experience. The Chief of Department has decided to turn-a-new-page and appoint the captain having the highest degree of education. In addition to your college degree, you have also taken the initiative to obtain a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) certification as a Fire Protection Specialist (CFPS).
The outgoing Fire Prevention Officer (FPO), who held the position for nearly 20 years, bids you good luck. As he turns to leave the office, he offers these cryptogrammic words, “don’t rock any boats kid!” You settle into your new position with ease, though the division secretary is a bit uneasy having a new “boss.” You have assured her that “there will not be ‘major’ changes within the division.” Your first two weeks are filled with routine inspections and re-inspections, where you find no surprises or anomalies. In fact, most of the owners/operators of those occupancies that you re-inspected found you to be highly knowledgeable, relaxed, and very personable. They gave you high marks and look forward to having an opportunity to meet you again.
On Wednesday morning of your third week, you have a scheduled appointment for an annual inspection of a small industrial occupancy that is owned and operated by a highly respected member of the community. The firm has been in operation since the 1980s, and the owner is a member of nearly all the local business civic organizations as well as major contributor to charities. You cannot recall any negative press about this man nor his business. You arrive at the firm at the appointed hour of 9:00 a.m., only to find that the front door to the building is locked, and it appears that no one is on the premises. You call your office to double-check the appointment time with the secretary, who confirms the time; however, she ends her conversation with, “You know this man has never given us any trouble, so why not let the inspection pass?”
As you end the call, her words are somewhat disconcerting, leaving you with an onerous feeling that something is not quite right. You return to your vehicle deciding to wait a bit longer. While sitting in your vehicle, you review the historical file on this occupancy. Much to your surprise, you find that there has never been a single violation and that the company is a firm utilizing chemicals for cleaning automotive parts. In nearly 30 years of annual inspections, there is not even the slightest issue in the record. This is very unusual for a firm reported as storing large drums of volatile chemicals.
At around 10:15 a.m., a car enters into the parking area, parks near the front door, and a man in his mid-fifties or early- sixties emerges and walks to the front door. You exit your vehicle, walking toward the man who has not taken his eyes off you and whose facial expressions indicate that he does not recognize you. As you approach the man, you introduce and identify yourself as the newly appointed FPO of the department. He shakes your hand and asks, “Well now, what can I do to make your day run a bit smoother?”
You inform him that you are onsite to conduct the annual occupancy inspection. He sneers and states, “There isn’t a need for that! After all, I run a well-respected business here. Didn’t the other inspector tell you about me? He never had any issues with my firm, and he and I got along just fine. The place is clean, so why don’t we just call it a day and log me in as having passed the inspection? What do you say?” You cannot believe what you have just heard. You maintain your professionalism and inform the owner that you have to conduct annual inspections of all industrial occupancies and an appointment was made for today.
The owner scoffs at the “appointment,” telling you that the former inspector “made the appointment as a matter of record as he had done for years, but didn’t bother to come here, unless of course he had gotten complaints, which he never did! So why bother?” You inform the owner that this is your obligation and responsibility to inspect the firm as it is known to store highly flammable liquids, which abuts a residential area. For the safety of the firm and those who live nearby, an inspection must be completed.
The owner becomes indignant, and his demeanor changes from sociable to confrontational. He insists that his company has an excellent “track record” without incident or complaint by neighbors. Still, you apprise him that under local ordinance and state codes, you must conduct the inspection to ensure that any and all hazards are in compliance with established rules and regulations. After a bit of bantering back-and-forth, he concedes and allows you to enter into the premises. In short order, you commence your inspection of the occupancy.
What you find is not only alarming, but unimaginable. There are open 55-gallon drums of petro-based liquids that, to the best of your ability, you identify as highly flammable and toxic. The ventilation system is inadequate for safe removal of vapors that are generated by the 15 cleaning process stations. You find that the local fire alarm system has been tampered with, so that interior early-detection devices are rendered inoperable. There is not an automatic fire sprinkler system, despite the fact that fire codes have required such a system in all industrial occupancies since 1975, and this building was built in 1982. You find only three handheld portable fire extinguishers, which are all dry chemical, that are outdated by four years.
As you continue your self-guided inspection tour, the owner continues his commentary that he has never had any complaints from workers or neighbors about how he has run his business. You are cautious and do not share your findings as of yet. Upon completion of your inspection, you have noted well over 45 violations of standards and codes applicable to this specific occupancy and operation. As you leave, you inform him that his firm is in violation of numerous regulations and that it may become necessary to shut the firm down until the occupancy is brought up to code. The owner of course becomes highly irate and states, “That’s what you think! I am well connected in this city! I put people into high places, and you aren’t about to close me down! We shall see who has the final word here!”
Shaken, yet very confident the law is on your side, you return to our office to prepare a series of documents necessary to begin the process of addressing the list of violations. You reconfirm that all violations can be cited by chapter and section of all applicable laws, regulations, and codes. You are now set to write the necessary documents, which will be distributed to individuals in both the public and private sector.
For the first part of this assignment, you will need to pick one of the following options, and draft a letter. Please click here to see an example of how a letter of this nature may be formatted.
A letter of notification must first be sent to the owner of the firm, informing him of the individual violations and the required remedy for each violation. In addition, you must inform him that until all violations have been remedied, the firm is to remain closed and no one is allowed to enter the building.
A letter of notification must be sent to the mayor of the city informing that office that you have ordered operations be halted at this firm due to your findings. (This letter is part of a city ordinance requirement).
For the second part of the assignment, you will need to use two of the following options, and draft two memos. Please click here see an example of how a memo of this nature may be formatted.
A memo of notification must be sent to inform the Chief of the Department of your findings and the action you have taken.
2 .A memo of notification must be sent to inform the City Building Inspector of the order to cease operations, citing your finding of numerous violations, though you do not need to itemize all violations.
There will be a total of one letter and two memos, all of which should be included in one Word document. Each letter should be written in a professional tone on a single page that is clear and concise to the reader. Each letter should have the name of the person to whom the letter is addressed, your name and title of Fire Prevention Officer shall be affixed to the bottom. Your letters should be written in APA format.
Each letter is to be written in left-aligned block format and without paragraph indentations. It is understood that the inclusion of violations need not be cited; therefore, in-text and reference citations are not necessary.