Firefighters Running For Their Lives… Why?

by | Jan 20, 2021


(Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News)

If there is one group of brave men & women protecting our communities who are always running into buildings when others are running out, it’s our first responders, especially the firefighters. So why was our country’s finest running out of a downtown burning building in Los Angeles, California, on May 16th, 2020, dropping their melted helmets and protective equipment on sidewalks with a 30-foot wall of flames behind them? 


“Everybody off the roof! Mayday! Mayday! All companies out of the building!”

These were the words from a captain on the radio, words that no one wants to hear, especially when you know 100’s of firefighters are on scene. Just thinking about this situation would give anyone goosebumps, and should leave us wondering:


  • Why were they facing such danger to begin with?
  • Was there possible information missing that could have helped protect all firefighters and the public that were involved?
It’s hard to believe that this is still happening today — the most advanced times of our modern lives — especially when everyone has data on everything, in the palm of their hands. I cannot help but wonder why firefighters were caught in this warehouse, for a second time in this exact building. There was a similar incident in 2016 which took 160 firefighters to put out. Are there measures that could have been taken to mitigate the danger and lives at risk? 

The good news, the Fire Chief publicly announced that the Mayday call prevented the emergency from getting a lot worse, and of course nobody wants to speculate on what that means. Bottom line, firefighting and ensuring the support of its Fire Department is a demanding requirement for any city. When firefighters go to work risking their lives to protect others, their own risk must be mitigated.

Fire prevention works and completing inspections and pre-plans drive compliance and compliance prevents incidents.

Let me share my opinion on the emergency that took place on May 16th, 2020 and others like it, the risk could have been mitigated. Fire prevention works, and completing inspections and pre-plans drives compliance and compliance prevents incidents. Think about it, is your Fire Department up to date with inspections and pre-plans? If a business owner called and asked for a certificate because their insurance company needed proof, could you provide it? What if insurance companies demanded that business owners proved their compliance with the fire code, does this sound like ISO (Insurance Services Office)? How can a Fire Department prevent emergencies like the Los Angeles warehouse fire and others from happening?

You’re well aware of fire standards, but in this case this warehouse had two fires within 4 years causing millions of dollars of damages. Somehow, somewhere, something may have been missed during the annual inspection cycle, or worse, the Fire Department was unable to keep up with today’s growing demand — how many more Fire Departments are in the same position as Los Angeles? How many more proof points are required before a Chief says “enough is enough it’s time to change.”

Los Angeles Fire Department firefighters push ambulance cots at the scene of a structure fire that injured multiple firefighters, according to a fire department spokesman, Saturday, May 16, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Many Fire Departments already have the ability to complete 100% of their inspections and pre-plans without having to resort to adding more resources, and use their current firefighters to ensure they are fully compliant with ISO and other standards.

Now, Los Angeles City Fire has an advanced fire prevention software program. But day in and out, we read about fire departments and hear the same thing “…we are way behind in our inspections and pre-plans.” It sounds like they believe they’re alone, newsflash, they’re not. There are 1000s of Fire Departments being reminded by ISO during audits. Yet, everyone is too busy to stop, think, and change this. We all know the leader’s intent of the Fire Chief is to minimize cost while maximizing the safety of their crew and public, this is where the right  fire prevention software, tailored to your Fire Department, will have direct impact on their intention. 

Fire prevention programs have proven to help reduce fires, however, today’s fire losses are exponentially more costly than in previous years, including injuries. The warehouse fire that took place in Los Angeles, California on May 16th, 2020, is a grave reminder of the potential implications of not having an up-to-date fire pre-plan or inspection. It’s time for firefighters and their departments’ to regroup and rethink. 

Let me say this, that is the direction we are heading. Many Fire Departments already have the ability to complete 100% of their inspections and pre-plans without having to resort to adding more resources, and use their current firefighters to ensure they are fully compliant with ISO and other standards. It’s really that simple, and you can too, just take us up on it.

Today’s smart mobile technology gives instant access (taking less than 2 seconds) to digital building records and data, all on the mobile device already in your hand. Smart, mobile technology is affordable for every fire department, easy to implement and drastically decreases the time it takes to produce a complete and comprehensive fire pre-plan and inspection.

Having better information during emergencies makes communities safer and saves lives.

If you want to understand how this can be done, there are many examples of this already out there. Fire Departments are already using the latest smart mobile technology and seeing tremendous results, like decreasing their ISO scores, increasing compliance, and keeping their communities and fellow firefighters safer. 
APX Data has helped 100’s of departments leverage smart mobile technology to support their pre-plan and inspection needs.  With the upcoming launch of our latest application for Investigations, Fire Departments will have yet another tool to ensure efficient data collection and record keeping in a mobile environment. With SmartInvestigate, all Fire Investigators can now easily digitize any fire scene, collect valuable data such as images, text and more, and neatly compile this in a state approved report helping meet NFPA 921. Click Here To Request Your Demo and See the Complete Line Of Offerings.

About the author: Paul Martin is the founder of www.apxdata.com – first to introduce smart mobile capabilities to Fire Departments meeting ISO, NFPA, FUS & State requirements.

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About the author

Paul Martin, President & CEO, APX Data

Paul Martin has devoted his career to public safety. He has helped departments across Canada and the United States through his work with Airbus and Motorola Public Safety Divisions. He is currently the founder and CEO of APX Data, a company devoted exclusively to helping fire departments modernize their fire prevention, response and fire investigations through the use of mobile technology. APX Data was first to market, introducing smart mobile applications to the fire service in 2013. APX has validated information on over 140 million structures in its database for all of the U.S., and is growing at a rate of more than 50% year over year. To talk to Paul, please connect with him on LinkedIn, visit apxdata.com or call 1-888-240-0591.

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