Over the last eight week’s I have honestly learned a lot. I have a new appreciation for Community Risk Reduction Programs, since I didn’t realize what the events and programs that firefighters do in their communities were. Growing up firefighters come to your school and it is a fun distraction from the classroom, but it is a CRR event to spread the word on fire safety. I also have a larger appreciation for fire departments, yes, I knew they did a lot for the community, but until this class it seemed more fire related and not about utilizing the communities help to prevent fires.
While I currently don’t have a career in a fire department, when I do, I hope they have an amazing Community Risk Reduction Program. This class has taught me how important it is to reach out to the communities in the area to gain support in many ways for the fire departments. I would want a CRR Program that would target as many age groups, demographics, and the greatest number of people it could. To bring the community together and lower the risks would be a huge goal in a fire department I was a part of.
If Community Risk Reduction remains an important part of the US Fire Service, it can help communities. I think CRR will eventually grow enough for every fire department out there to have a good program. I believe that eventually every fire department can have the budget and staff for a good CRR program. I hope fire departments individually and collectively advocate for a CRR program in every fire department. There will always be community risks, but a CRR Program helps lower them.
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I thought I knew the basics of a community risk reduction program and what the process was to successfully run the program. However, there is more to it than just identifying the risks associated in your jurisdiction and ways to minimize emergencies with those risks. However, with the required reading these past 8 weeks, there is a lot to the program and ensure you are reducing risks, not just risks that you have identified.
For instance, the Vision 20/20 website provides a detailed outline of possible ways to reduce risks. Risks that can be determined by analyzing data from previous months emergency responses and finding trends. Trends that can include the type of response, or the area of responsibility, or even the time of day majority of responses are taking place. Taking the results from this data you can collaborate with your department and find ways to educate the public in order to reduce these risks.
Fortunately, my department already captures this data through the use of our database supplied by the DoD. This information is captured and included in our Standard Of Coverage report. I believe with the continued advancement in technology as well as new construction, our risk reduction program will continue to change. In addition, the continued arrival of new military folks and families, we will have to continue to educate. Sadly, a new regulation has arrived that suggests for fire extinguishers to be removed in sprinklered facilities. This, however, is with approval of the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) which would be the fire chief. This would ultimately reduce the number of fire extinguisher training that is conducted at our fire station. We will also have to ensure that if approved, we educate the masses on fire reporting procedures and what to do in the event the fire suppression system is out of service.
Community Risk Reduction is one of the most important elements of mitigating problems within a jurisdiction before they even begin. This course covered a great deal about it, and introduced several elements of it to me I was not previously aware of, specifically in regard to the building of the plans. I felt I got the most out of the readings, and also was able to find other readings that truly helped me to learn more about the subject matter.
As I mentioned, I was able to start applying some of these elements immediately within my volunteer fire service, and I have also been able to recognize some of what gets done by my career fire service better now that I can recognize different things from a better-educated standpoint.
I believe the most important thing this course has taught me is that it doesn’t specifically have to be my job in order to get things going. Most of what I have been able to implement within my own jurisdictions has been done through simply taking things on and later discovering that either no one was working on it before or had even thought of it. Other things I started to work on caught the attention of those who had worked on it before me and I was able to combine my efforts with theirs and we continue to work on the projects to this day.
I believe, as time goes forward, the fire service will come to embrace and expand Community Risk Reduction more and more. It is proving to be invaluable to the communities we serve and shows that we can be just as proactive in our line of work as we are reactive. I also believe this will be something that becomes more routine for the newer firefighter to understand is a part of the job.