- Firefighters spend a lot of time preventing fires from happening.
They want people and businesses to make buildings as safe as possible.
Merrill's Citizen's Fire Academy learned about how the department does that.
Every public building in Wisconsin needs to go through a fire inspection.
Firefighters hope the inspections prevent fires.
"It's a lot more beneficial to prevent something than for us to react to it," says Merrill Fire Department Captain Steve Hintze.
Every business, library, and even fire stations are inspected.
"The fire service has changed over the last, probably couple decades now. We are in the process of trying to prevent things before they happen," Hintze says.
These inspections help keep the community and the department safe.
"We don't need to send firefighters into buildings that have smoke that you can't even see your hand in front of your face," Hintze says.
The Merrill Fire Department inspects more than 500 buildings twice a year.
A lot of the time firefighters are looking for things like fire exits and checking fire extinguishers, but some of the fire code is a little more specific.
"Children's classrooms cannot have more than 75% of their walls covered with paper," says Hintze.
One of the most common problems the department finds is issues with electrical cords.
The department stresses the importance of extinguishers and signs that can save lives.
"I think people take [exit signs] for granted, but if you were in a fire and you couldn't see, but all you could see is this orange glowing exit sign you'd be happy as heck to have that thing working," says Hintze.
The department hopes to share this information with as many people as possible.
That's why it spends a lot of time in classrooms.
"These kids in my eyes are the medium to take this important message that we give them and spread it to their parents, their grandparents, their uncles, their aunts, all those people," Hintze says.
The Merrill Fire Department also does inspections of private homes.