While responding to emergencies is often the most obvious function of fire departments, it is not the complete description of the North Andover Fire Department. A prominent "behind the scenes" function at the North Andover Fire Department is fire prevention. Fire prevention is the inspection, education, and enforcement division of the fire department providing life safety services through code enforcement and inspections during the new business development process, general fire inspections, operating and special use permitting and complaint investigation.
Fire prevention is the key to saving lives and property. Fire prevention education is the first step in the fire department's commitment to protecting the lives and property of our citizens and visitors. While not inclusive, that title captures the intent of this division. The major functions are broken down below:
The inspection unit is overseen by the Fire Prevention Lieutenant. It has been said that the safest fire is one that never happens. Inspections cover a wide variety of occupancies. They can vary from a storefront downtown, to a residential home, or a large commercial occupancy. It also includes extremely hazardous sites to target hazards identified by the fire department administration within the community. The focus of an inspection is to identify and correct problems that may lead to a fire, delay notification of a fire (Fire Alarm System), and to remove any obstacles that may impede or block an emergency egress path from a building resulting in a delay for the occupants from exiting the building. Examples of these areas of concern may include combustibles (paper, boxes, wood) stored near the furnace or water heater, a fire alarm system or sprinkler system that has not been maintained or working properly, and storage of boxes, chairs, ladders, boards in an exit way for any amount of time. The fire prevention officer works closely with other town departments to insure that all applicable codes are followed to promote safety in the Town of North Andover
Fire Investigation Unit
The North Andover Fire Investigation Unit (FIU) responds to all major fires in the town, and is available 24 hours a day to investigate any incident where the Incident Commander requests an investigator. The duties of the fire investigator include origin and cause investigations for structure fires, motor vehicle fires, burns, explosions, hazardous materials, and the enforcement of all laws and statutes related to those incidents. The unit works closely with our Fire Prevention Officer, the North Andover Police Department, other local fire departments, law enforcement agencies, and the State Fire Marshall's Office with the common goal of eliminating incendiary fires.
Public Education Unit
The unit offers programs for seniors, local civic groups and any organization that request a speaker. One of our goals is to reach the youth of the town and create a well-informed generation. Each year the Public Education Unit works to insure that each elementary school in North Andover is provided with safety education. Each student meets the firefighters, learns life saving techniques and receives literature to take home. Other programs include fire open house programs along with other community assistance projects.