Engaging Firefighters in Community Risk Reduction

The general goal of any fire prevention organization is to prevent the loss of life and property damage due to fire.

Engaging firefighters in community risk reduction efforts is an effective measure to take towards continuing the cycle of planning, implementation, and evaluation of fire and life safety education programs. Measuring the effectiveness of programs and proving the activities are tracked and demonstrated, will bring in community support for the department to keep public education programs ongoing, and current.
The fire service does many things by themselves. Community Risk Reduction should not be one of them. The first word, “Community”, should let us know this. Without Community Risk Reduction Partnerships, our greatest efforts in Community Risk Reduction will fall short. There are many existing organizations that can and will push our CRR programs much farther than if we attempt to do them on our own. Brent Faulkner, MBIntel.net

Read: Firefighters Pave The Pub Ed Highway

The way forward for firefighters.

Community involvement is critical for firefighters to ensure the public is informed and properly educated. Plan on conducting home visits and having discussion with community members and groups who can provide feedback on your current programs, and:
  • Dress professionally in a uniform that clearly identifies you with your department.
  • Ensure a full supply of resources and handouts are available.
  • Work only in teams, of at least two people.
  • Remember the primary goal of the CRR “mission” is to eliminate hazards to life and property. Be able to clearly articulate this to your community.

Try the MBIntel Virtual CRR on How to Engage Community Risk Reduction Partnerships to put the “Community” in CRR. READ MORE

 

The Guide for Training Fire Service Personnel to Conduct Community Risk Reduction, provides direction for fire departments to design and implement the community risk reduction plan.  A key component for effective risk reduction is face-to-face interaction with community members.  This can be achieved through public events, fire station visits, and, most effectively, home visits. Community risk reduction programs, and fire crews involvement in them, produces three distinct benefits.

Material distribution.

Home visits, interaction, and direct contact with the public can provide an excellent opportunity to distribute and discuss fire prevention, life safety, and emergency preparedness literature. With the abundance of documents and materials available, make sure that the selected items and literature are directly tied with the communities risk reduction plan and goals.  Fire department personnel should take advantage of these opportunities to to answer questions and create conversations that promote risk reduction initiatives.

Supports other programs.

Personal interactions and home visits improve the public perception of the fire department, and allow the promotion of additional fire protection and life safety programs. Based on the conditions or personnel observed, some programs that may be promoted include:
  • smoke alarm installation
  • CO detection and alarm installation
  • radon dangers and awareness
  • residential fire sprinklers
  • fire escape planning
  • Drowning prevention
  • senior citizen risks and fall prevention
  • Fire safety for children

Continuity of CRR programs.

Effective community risk reduction is an endless cycle of planning, implementation, and evaluation. Home visits and discussion with community members and groups can provide feedback on current programs, and data for future community needs.  As these programs gain traction and their effectiveness is tracked and demonstrated, community support for the department and CRR will be enhanced.

About the author: Aaron Johnson

Fire strategist and the “peace of mind” expert in fire protection and life safety. Aaron has more than a decade of fire protection/life safety/code compliance experience. He holds multiple fire service and FEMA certifications. His expertise spans multiple occupancy types and use functions. www.thecodecoach.com

Aaron is an active member of several fire protection committees including:

Airport Facilities
Helicopter Facilities
Building Construction
Industrial, Storage, and Miscellaneous Occupancies
Fire Inspector and Plan Examiner Professional Qualifications
International Fire Code (IFC) Development Committee

Aaron is the author of more than 400 books, articles, reports, white papers, and blog posts on fire protection and life safety topics. He regularly speaks at industry conferences, and is a member of the International Code Council (ICC), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the ARFF Working Group, and the Florida Fire Chiefs Association.

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