The Fire Prevention Bureau (FPB) of the Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department currently operates with a staff of two personnel: the Fire Marshal and Deputy Fire Marshal.
The FPB is primarily responsible for the enforcement of local, state, and federal laws pertaining to the prevention of fire and the maintaining of fire-safe buildings throughout the community. These goals are accomplished through the regular inspection of commercial properties as well as review of plans for new properties. In addition to this responsibility, the FPB also investigates all fires to determine cause and origin, provides public fire safety education, tracks incident records, and conducts victim liaison/support.
Enforcement and Inspection
The Fire Prevention Bureau is involved with the fire safety requirements of all public events that take place within the city. There are typically more than 20 public events held in Cuyahoga Falls during the year. Some events are festivals celebrating ethnic traditions and customs, which add a unique dimension to fire safety protection. These events bring a large number of people from surrounding areas into the community. Events such as concerts and festivals bring vendors with temporary structures to which the public has access. Gas leaks, fire lane obstruction, building access, electrical hazards, and general safety requirements are just a few of the issues that are addressed prior to the events taking place. Vendors are given rules for fire safety and are inspected prior to opening. The events are safe and have proven to be successful over the years.
Inspections of commercial properties are performed annually and are initially conducted by fire companies who serve as the primary avenue for identifying problem areas. CFFD's five primary fire companies conduct well over 1000 inspections annually. During these brief but important visits, fire fighters take the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the property and bring any fire safety concerns to the attention of the owner(s). Serious violations are forwarded to the Fire Marshal for follow up. The FPB conducts hundreds of site inspections, fire suppression system approvals and building construction inspections annually.
With Blossom Music Center (a major outdoor concert amphitheater) within our city, the FPB is involved with a variety fire-related issues involving concerts of all types. Several concerts a year include stage pyrotechnics, which present a unique challenge in terms of fire protection. These displays require test shoots of the pyro before they are used within the amphitheater.
Fireworks displays are common during the summer holidays and members of the FPB both inspect and monitor these displays. As always, the Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department, with the FPB taking the lead, is ever vigilant and attentive to the dangers of fireworks displays.
The area of fire investigation is constantly changing and requires the Fire Marshals to stay current in investigation methods. Fire investigations are expected to follow NFPA 921 (Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations), which has placed significant importance on methodology and equipment used. The Fire Marshals attend more than 50 hours of arson investigation update training annually and utilize that information on fire scenes regularly. The Fire Prevention Bureau has more than $5,000 worth of fire investigation equipment and uses two laboratories for forensic evaluation of fire scene evidence.
Investigations involve working closely with our police department; the State Fire Marshal’s Office; and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). Investigations also require the use of the State Arson Crime Lab, which examines samples for analysis of arson-related materials.
All unfriendly fires of unknown origin require investigation by the Fire Marshal's Office. Arson fires involving juveniles are referred to the police department’s Juvenile Officer for follow-up.
The Records Division of the FPB processes more than 6,000 incident reports each year before filing with either the State of Ohio Fire Marshal's Office (fire cases) or with the receiving hospitals and St. Thomas Hospital (EMS cases). The department’s chief officers and the records staff perform daily review of all reports, and CFFD's Medical Director and his staff review EMS reports monthly.
The Deputy Fire Marshal, also the Victim Liaison, responds to fires and other incidents to assist our citizens in recovering from their losses. In all cases, our residents receive explanation of fire department operations and advice about temporary housing, insurance and other aspects of recovery. The objective of this service is to return our citizens to normal life (personal and business) as quickly as possible after a fire or similar incident.