Perhaps the only certain thing about responding to emergencies is uncertainty. There are simply too many unknowns to prepare for them all. The best way to combat this is to get out in your response area - a lot.
Traditionally, firefighters call this preplanning, and they spend the bulk of their official preplanning efforts on Target Hazards: usually large structures or infrastructure like high rise buildings, hospitals, refineries etc that would be a bad day if they burned. Though this is certainly a necessary practice, there is one small problem: these buildings rarely burn.
Meanwhile, there is a whole host of smaller structures that burn everyday, and are often the location of firefighter and civilian injuries and fatalities. Many of these we drive past and recognize, “we’re totally going to have a job in that joint” but never document.
Back in the triumphant days of “Urban Firefighter Magazine,” (RIP, such a great publication until it was crushed by the man…), I wrote an article on what I call “Predicted Hazard Preplanning,” emphasizing tactical intelligence gathering on the buildings we think WILL burn, not just those that MIGHT. Though the best indicator is gut feeling, some other things to look out for include: abandoned buildings (particularly occupied or isolated structures), previous fires, construction/demolition, demographic changes, crime, dense/unconventional occupancy, or sketchy electrical connections.
The photos in this post are a sampling of before and after photos of predicted hazards. All were structures that observation led me to believe we would return to, and we did. One of them resulted in a civilian fatality. Know your local…