Fire Prevention 52: Park Structural Fire Coordinator

By Eric Anderson, Structural Fire Training Specialist
park structural fire coordinator working in the field
Fire Inspector George Hein and Battalion Chief Paul Glazer make sure that the fire hydrants at the Grand Canyon are functioning correctly. This is a common task that a PSFC will ensure happens.

As a former park structural fire coordinator (PSFC), I know that this work is often not visible. Let's take a few minutes to highlight the work that PSFCs do for the National Park Service and why.

We all know that fire prevention in our homes and workplaces makes sense, but who is responsible for ensuring that all required fire safety measures are completed? Whom do you contact if you have a question or need help regarding a structure fire safety issue at your park? The park structural fire coordinator, that's who.

Directors Order 58 Structural Fire Management in 2001 created the position of PSFC to assist superintendents with the hefty responsibility of fire safety, prevention, and suppression operations in the parks. DO 58 IV F states:

The superintendent of each park will designate a Park Structural Fire Coordinator (PSFC), whose training and certification requirements will be identified in RM-58. The PSFC will be knowledgeable about DO/RM-58 and the requirements identified in these documents. The PSFC will work with park management to assure they are adequately versed in the requirements and procedures contained therein.

Here are just a few of the important things PSFCs do:

  • Work to ensure that the park is in compliance with Director's Order/Reference Manual 58, and inform the superintendent of any issues or liabilities that need to be addressed. This includes drafting/updating a structural fire management plan, developing or revising aid agreements, or ensuring a park fire department is in place, to ensure adequate response to a fire.
  • Work with facilities to ensure all buildings are in compliance with fire safety codes and that fire protection equipment, such as fire sprinklers and alarm systems, is properly tested and maintained.
  • Is often responsible for overseeing the annually required contracted work for inspection, testing, and maintenance of fire protection equipment.
  • Provide fire safety training, such as fire extinguisher and building evacuation training.
  • May assist with engine company training and program management in a park with engine company operations.

As a former PSFC, I found that the most important aspect of the job was building and maintaining professional relationships. To be successful, PSFCs must be able to communicate and work with different disciplines within the park, for example, Visitor Protection, Facilities, and Administration, and outside agencies, such as the local fire department officers.

Fire Info for You

Employees
Do you know who your park's PSFC is? If not take a few minutes to learn that information and meet them; more than likely there is something that you or your work group can do to assist in their duties while also improving fire safety in your workplace.

Does your park not have a PSFC assigned? This may be a great time to show initiative and gain additional work experience and training. Consider approaching your supervisor to see if you can take on this important assignment. During my NPS career I have had the opportunity to serve as a PSFC in a number of parks and found it to be challenging yet very rewarding.

Park Leadership
Understand that fire protection responsibilities present legal, financial, and political liabilities for our park leaders. Placing the proper person in the role of PSFC, and supporting them with training and time to accomplish these tasks, can significantly reduce these liabilities while keeping our employees, visitors, and resources safe.

Take Action

PSFCs: If you haven't taken PSFC training yet, we look forward to having you join our online training which should be released sometime this summer.

NPS Fire Facts

NPS PSFC Training
The NPS Structural Fire Program is currently developing a PSFC course. This course, which will be accessible to all PSFCs as an online training class, which will provide an employee with all of the skills, knowledge and abilities required to operate as a PSFC.

The course will be a Fire Inspector course, encompassing all of the training a fire department or city fire inspector would receive, in addition to NPS-specific knowledge that an employee will need to be successful as a PSFC.

This will provide career-enhancing training for employees, while ensuring better protection of our important infrastructure and employee and visitor safety.