One of the true joys of teaching around the country is that I learn so much from the people I meet. My recent trip to South Carolina is a good example of that. I had never been to a training facility for fire fighters before and Columbia, SC has one of the best in the country. I learned that when you see fire fighters using hoses on a building on the 10 o’clock news, that’s called “media” water. By the time that occurs, the building is a total loss and there’s no one left to rescue. A number of speakers talked of the need to fight fires smarter using modern science instead of relying on emotion and tradition. Part of being smarter is installing sprinkler systems in residential structures. However, South Carolina is going through the same fight over that provision in the model building code that other jurisdictions are. It is not going to happen for the foreseeable future there even though fire prevention personnel know it would save lives and property. South Carolina also heavily relies on volunteer firefighters. It came as a great surprise to me that the administrative chapter of the IFC has not been adopted by the State of South Carolina and it is left to local jurisdictions to adopt it, many of which do not. This creates a situation where fire inspectors cannot write tickets for violations of the fire code and must rely on the building official to enforce the code. This creates some very unacceptable dilemmas for these inspectors (in my opinion). I was impressed with their dedication despite all of the obstacles put in their way.
I am teaching this weekend at the Southeastern Fire School in Columbia, SC. The campus here is incredible. Many of the training classes are taking place out of doors in buildings that can be set on fire or filled with smoke. I’m told it is one of the top three fire academies in the country. Even the dorm I am writing this from is pretty decent. I will post more when I get back.