The Jamestown Fire Department is collecting building information that will be vital to its crew's effectiveness in emergency situations.
On Monday, the Jamestown Fire Department began conducting building surveys in the city of Jamestown, excluding single- and two-family homes.
According to Chet Harvey, Jamestown Fire Department deputy fire chief, the last time the surveys were conducted was the late 1980s.
A Jamestown Fire Department crew inspects the roof of the Covenant Manor building while conducting a building survey Wednesday morning.
P-J photo by Hilary Scott
It's fair to say that quite a bit has changed since then.
"Owners of buildings, contacts and maintenance people have changed over the years. Sometimes we call people in the middle of the night, and they say 'I haven't worked there in five years,'" said Harvey.
The information collected will be uploaded into a database at the county Dispatch Center, so it can be easily accessed during an emergency situation.
The surveys will document important information, including emergency contact numbers, if there are hazardous materials in the building and if there are any special rescue problems for the occupants.
Crews will also be documenting general building construction specifications, like the number of stories, and the type of roof joists, as well as the location of alarm panels, utility shut-offs, internal stairwells, fire extinguishers, sprinkler system controls and smoke detectors.
"The dispatcher will be able to say: 'the gas shut-off is located along the wall here,' or 'the sprinkler connection is on the northwest corner,'" said Harvey. "It also gets the guys out and familiar with some of the larger buildings, so if they do show up in the dark or if its full of smoke, they do have some mental picture of the building and where things are laid out."
While conducting surveys, crews explore the outside of the building including alleyways to devise the best route and and access point for ladder trucks to the roof or windows of the structure.
"It gives us the opportunity to get familiar with the buildings," said Lt. Donald Mowry before leaving to conduct a survey at Covenant Manor. "It allows things to go faster and smoother when we get there."
Covenant Manor has changed dramatically since the last survey, going from business office oriented to an apartment structure, said fireman Shawn Shillings, another crew member conducting the survey.
The crew documented the above information about the Covenant Manor building, as well as noted its Knox-Box Rapid Entry System, which allows fireman to unlock the doors with their command card, avoiding a destructive entrance. Mowry said the Jamestown Fire Department is pushing for more businesses to invest in this device, because it simplifies things for the fireman.
The surveys will be completed by the on-shift working crews during the day, and they will be in uniform and have proper identification.
"It will take roughly half a year to canvass all the buildings," said Harvey.