Waxahachie firefighters are working with business owners to be prepared in an event of an emergency. Firefighters are conducting pre-fire planning, which lets them know information about the business such as its layout, materials used in the building construction and what types of hazards are on site prior to responding to a call.

“We have done pre-fire plans before in the past. Right now we are in the process of updating them. We don’t have pre-fire plans on a lot of the new businesses that have developed up north and we are (working on) that now. What we do is we will walk through with a manager or owner. We make a list that shows what material the walls, floor and ceiling is made out of,” Capt. Josh Anderson said.

“Stuff we look for is if the air conditioning unit is on the top the roof. That could possibly be a danger to us because if you get a heavy fire load it could fall down on you. Those are some of the things that we have to worry about. There are all kinds of hazards,” he said.

Arrangements are made with the business owner to perform the service so that business is not disrupted. While doing a pre-fire plan, firefighters obtain a layout of the building from the owner or, if none is available, then a sketch is drawn and placed on the department’s computer. The walk-through allows firefighters to see the interior clearly without smoke blocking their view.

Anderson is quick to point out the pre-fire planning isn’t a fire inspection but a way firefighters can gain knowledge about a structure prior to an emergency.

“It is important to know what we have before we get there. By knowing where utility cutoffs are at we can cut them off faster without have to search and look for them,” he said. “The battalion chief vehicles will have all this information laid out so they will know what kind of problems that they need to worry about.”

A quick reference guide also is placed on each engine for firefighters to have.

Pre-fire plans are conducted throughout the year with about six done each month.

“It is important that we will continue to do this because when new businesses come in they (might) gut it from the inside. The fire load could be completely different from a furniture store to a restaurant and the dangers are also different,” Anderson said.

For more information about pre-fire planning, contact the department at 972-937-1200.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1458.