AUTHOR: Karen Berard-Reed

Malden Fire Department discussing CRR

CRR Week: An opportunity to reflect on your leadership

On January 25, NFPA is hosting a virtual event, Leadership for Emergency Responders, which will provide opportunities to dig into three dimensions of leadership specific to emergency responders: personal, technical and community leadership. My colleagues, Meredith Hawes and Chelsea Rubadou, and I will be presenting at the event to share some of our insights related to Community Risk Reduction (CRR). As we worked to figure out what messages to focus on, these are some of the leading questions we wanted to address: What does it mean to be a CRR leader? How do we meet the needs of fire department leaders and also engage a wider group of responders across a community? How can we serve motivated CRR champions who do not yet wear bugles on their shirts? What if attendees work in a role that doesn’t require a uniform? Could our message be important to them? As we filtered our thoughts through real-world examples, it became clear that role and rank are secondary to passion, dedication, and the ability to inspire others to explore the value that CRR brings to the toolkit of any safety-focused agency. While we have lots of CRR leadership examples to look to, one particular group of motivated professionals provided this clarity. These are the folks who dreamed of holding a national event to elevate CRR across the fire service and brought CRR Week to life. CRR Week arose out focused problem-solving, energetic networking, and pencil-sketched bar napkins. This celebration is a now solidified as an annual event designed to heighten awareness of the role and impact of the CRR process as a result of passionate leadership. The third annual CRR Week begins on Monday, January 17 intentionally aligning to a National Day of Service that honors Martin Luther King, Jr. CRR Week is an opportunity to demonstrate your leadership. It can help you start the conversations in your community about the importance of making data-driven decisions to guide risk reduction plans; encourage the fire chief to support a prevention initiative designed to support high-risk residents; and help operations crews understand the important roles they play in community safety before, during, and after 9-1-1 calls are made. To learn how to best achieve these and other CRR goals and objectives, I strongly encourage everyone to register for the Leadership for Emergency Responders virtual event taking place on January 25 or one of the many face-to-face conferences taking place this year to learn more about NFPA 1300, the industry standard for CRR. Show your passion and dedication. Inspire others to take action. Be a CRR leader. NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development provides guidance for professionals working to improve community safety. Also, CRAIG 1300 is a new digital tool that can help communities conduct an effective CRA and establish a well-informed CRR plan.

It Is Time to Do More: Community Risk Reduction

Recent news out of Philadelphia tells a tragic story about the devastating fire in which 12 people died on Wednesday. While investigators work to uncover the cause of the fire and neighbors mourn those who perished, this tragedy is truly heartbreaking for all of us work each and every day to reduce the likelihood of fire in our communities. It also makes us question where the cracks within our own communities remain, and how we can do more to ensure that no one suffers this type of loss moving forward. The fire problem is complex and there are no easy answers. Risk is inherent and exists in every building. While it is nearly impossible to eliminate the risk of home fires, we can certainly work strategically to gain traction in the fight against fire. We can build on our existing knowledge. Working smoke alarms provide an important piece of the safety puzzle and provide critical early warning in a home fire. We also know that planning and practicing home escape plans helps family members learn the route to safety ahead of a scary, disorienting event. These are messages all of us well know, and they’re ones we continually work to promote among our audiences time and again. When a devastating fire like this happens, it’s a resounding signal that it is time to do more, and that it’s a time to do things a bit differently from the way we’ve long done them. Derrick Sawyer, the former Commissioner of the Philadelphia Fire Department, is a long-standing advocate for Community Risk Reduction (CRR), a process of identifying local risks and planning targeted interventions to reduce those risks. In the article, Connecting the Dots, Chief Sawyer explains how data are important fire prevention tools that provide insights into the unique needs of neighborhoods across a community. The data should be considered in a Community Risk Assessment (CRA) alongside input from local stakeholders and partners to get a comprehensive view of the risks and capacity at the neighborhood level. Community Risk Reduction arms prevention specialists with a deeper understanding of the unique qualities and characteristics of each neighborhood and the people who live, work, learn, and play there.  This knowledge guides tailored interventions designed to meet specific needs and ensure resources are deployed to address those experiencing the highest levels of risk. It is an equitable approach to prevention that leads to impactful, multifaceted initiatives. Data-informed assessments, rich community partnerships, and targeted plans guided by the CRR process reduce the likelihood and the impact of home fires. It is time to embrace this new approach to fire prevention. Do you have all the data you need to accurately identify where risks within your community exist? Do you have the partnerships to effectively connect with your communities to address them? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you’ve likely put a lot of time and energy into capturing that information and making those impactful connections. But for the many fire departments and safety officials that still need more information and support to truly ensure that they are doing all they can to reduce the risk of fire in their communities, please consider what actions will you take today to better prevent fire in your communities. Taking the first steps can be daunting, but there are many ways you can begin to more effectively identify and address risks within your communities. Our CRR resources can help get you started and move toward better understanding and responding to the biggest safety threats impacting specific populations with your jurisdiction. NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development provides guidance for professionals working to improve community safety. Also, CRAIG 1300 is a new digital tool that can help communities conduct an effective CRA and establish a well-informed CRR plan.
Firefighter and kids

CRR in Action: 3 Questions with Lt. Erin Stehle of the Harrisonburg Fire Department

Community Risk Reduction (CRR) is a process to identify and prioritize local risks, followed by the integrated and strategic investment of resources to reduce their occurrence and impact. This process has been gaining traction in fire departments around the world as a tool to enhance efforts to increase the safety of residents, visitors, and first responders. But what does it look like in action? As a member of the Community Risk Reduction team at NFPA, I am fortunate to work with passionate, proactive fire professionals who have real world perspective about CRR and its merits. I recently interviewed Lt. Erin Stehle, public education officer at the Harrisonburg Fire Department in Virginia. Lt. Stehle is an expert at using the CRR process to boost the impact of her public education initiatives.   KBR: Fire Prevention Week™ (FPW) is coming up quickly! The FPW theme, “Learn the Sound of Fire Safety™”, is important for everyone. How does your Community Risk Assessment (CRA) help you strengthen your FPW efforts? ES: The data from our CRA makes our Fire Prevention Week initiatives more impactful as it provides us with direction and a big picture view. The data points to the areas towards which we should be directing our FPW efforts and highlights the who, what and where risks are occurring in your community. Oftentimes in fire departments we assume problems are happening in certain areas. W. Edwards Deming said, “Without data, you are just another person with an opinion.” By assessing the nine community profiles outlined in NFPA 1300, we have data to support assumptions with facts and figures, and have also uncovered some unexpected risks. This has been helpful when making a case to executive leadership about our strategy to reduce such risks. All in all, data is crucial to developing safety initiatives allows CRR professional to mitigate risks in our community, which in turn prevents more civilian and firefighter injuries and deaths. Lt. Erin Stehle spoke about Fire Prevention Week in NFPA's Conference Series in August.   KBR: Is it fair to say that your CRA is helping you drive diversity, equity, and inclusion in your fire & life safety education efforts? ES: Yes! Let me give you an example. For the past 30 years our department has used the same strategy for Fire Prevention Week, which includes static displays at our local mall. While this was the best location to promote FPW years ago, we are changing direction because of what we learned from our CRA. Specifically in our department, the data has allowed us to narrow our focus on underrepresented populations such as people experiencing language isolation, people with disabilities and older adults. This approach allows our departments to bring equity to our FPW efforts and meet the needs of vulnerable and underrepresented populations. Our community is quite diverse and over 70 different languages are spoken across our 55,000 residents. It is imperative that we consider this information to ensure we are effectively reaching our target audiences. This year we are either participating or hosting events that include these populations, as well as our usual elementary field trips and school visits to ensure the messages reach the broader population. KBR: Do you have any advice to offer CRR professionals who are planning for Fire Prevention Week this year? ES: Absolutely! If you are a CRR professional gearing up for FPW, consider these principles: Quality vs. Quantity- CRR professionals tend to be charismatic and compassionate people, which is a major strength when planning for Fire Prevention Week. It is exciting to celebrate a week that encompasses fire safety. However, we often feel like we have to do it all and that can be overwhelming. Therefore, it is important to consider developing programs and activities that maximize efficiency. For years we have continued to implement programs because “it’s how it has always been.” Or perhaps we feel internal and external pressure to continue to host certain events for public perception. Rather than giving in to the pressure, use your data to identify a plan with a clear focus. Stay attentive to your desired outcomes and high-impact interventions rather than high-touch. Give yourself permission to start small. We are in this together- You should never feel like CRR is only up to you. Identify the movers and shakers in the department who love working with the community. This can help create buy-in, so everyone knows their part in CRR. Of course, there is always going to be that 5-10% of a department that complains about CRR or pub ed, but don’t worry about them. CRR saves lives and what we are doing matters. There are many people within our departments that are compassionate and want to help. Seek them out because you are never alone in CRR. Tag-a-long- One lesson I’ve learned from CRR is that you do not have to host all of these events during FPW/month. Instead, look and see what’s already scheduled in your community and tag-a-long. There’s no reason to feel like you have to create new events. Partnerships are key in CRR. There is power in numbers and the more people involved in an event, that better it will be. So be sure to tag-a-long to community events happening during FPW/month. To learn more about CRR initiatives in Harrisonburg, reach out to Erin. Visit www.nfpa.org/CRAIG1300 to learn about CRAIG 1300, the NFPA Community Risk Assessment dashboard that Lt. Stehle used to drive her Fire Prevention Week efforts. This blog is part of a series intended to provide a peek into some commendable CRR initiatives and inspire those interested in CRR to jump in and join the momentum. Throughout the series, we’ll share brief interviews with CRR professionals about the unique efforts taking place at the local level.
Berger

CRR in Action: 3 Questions with Daniel Berger, the Community Risk Reduction Manager for Pflugerville Fire Department

Community Risk Reduction (CRR) is a process to identify and prioritize local risks, followed by the integrated and strategic investment of resources to reduce their occurrence and impact. This process has been gaining traction in fire departments around the world as a tool to enhance efforts to increase the safety of residents, visitors, and first responders. But what does it look like in action? As a member of the Community Risk Reduction team at NFPA, I am fortunate to work with passionate, proactive fire professionals who have real world perspective about CRR and its merits. It is a pleasure to share their stories in this blog series. My next interview is with Daniel Berger, Risk Reduction Division Manager at the Pflugerville Fire Department in Texas.  When we met, virtually, your passion for Community Risk Reduction and Community Risk Assessment was instantly evident. Can you tell us where this drive originates? I’ve always enjoyed making things better for people in general and valued my time as a firefighter because of this. Early in my career, I moved from Operations to Fire Code Enforcement and Arson Investigations. These roles play a vital part in the overall fire & life safety ecosystem, but it was difficult to see the impacts of day-to-day efforts. Community Risk Reduction is a great fit for me because measurable outputs and outcomes provide tangible evidence that my work has impact. In addition, I value good stewardship. I also enjoy finding streamlined, sometimes common-sense approaches to problems. CRR checks these boxes as it provides a playbook that identifies the problems particular to a community and scripts an efficient solution. Couple all of this with the fact I’m a bit of a data nerd (Marty Ahrens on the NFPA Applied Research team is one of my heroes - her reports are must reads) and you can see why I am a big fan of  CRR. You and your team members in Pflugerville have completed an impressive Community Risk Assessment. Tell us a bit about the process you followed to complete this important work. The process of creating our first ever CRA had some of the elements of a binge-worthy TV series: a little bit of drama with some truly comedic moments and a lesson on resilience over the long haul. We began in April of 2018 with two Public Educators and a Lieutenant assigned to this project. At the time, NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, was not yet available. Instead, Annex B from NFPA 1730 guided our work along with resources from Vision 20/20. The team began to accumulate data on our community including: Demographic information from the US Census Bureau and city resources Building information from the County’s Appraisal District and other local resources Response information on historical emergency response from several internal reporting systems Economic information from several local community partners. We shared this information with a local GIS specialist who created dozens of useful maps and displays to help us identify trends and clusters. The result was a mound of information that we mulled over extensively. We had awesome information, but we really struggled with what to do with the data. After several brainstorming sessions, we developed a process to prioritize the risks highlighted in the data based on the probability of an event occurring, the potential impact of an occurrence, and our capacity to influence either. We ended with a product we are proud of and came away with some valuable insights into how we’ll develop our next version in 2022.  What is the role of CRR in Pflugerville? I’m curious to hear how your team’s efforts impacted prevention initiatives within the fire service and the overall community. Our leadership recognized the need to follow a true CRR model several years ago. It began with the simple name change of our Division from Fire Prevention to Community Risk Reduction. Since then, we’ve been trying to institutionalize the principles and values of CRR. While we’re making great strides in this effort, we’re still scratching the surface of what we can really do with a CRR mindset. The CRA and CRRP are the drivers for our Division. Prior to creating our CRR plan, we were all over the map with our programming: cooking safety, wildfire mitigation, accidental poisonings, severe weather plans, car seat installations, fall prevention, and more. The CRA and CRR plan helped us define our focus to ensure a greater probability of positively impacting our community and efficient resource deployment. One example of how our CRA has resulted in a safer community is work we’ve done with our neighborhoods with manufactured homes. This project highlights the general good that can come from a well-written, well-executed risk assessment and risk reduction plan.  Data in the demographic profile of our CRA illuminated six manufactured home communities in our District whose residents were at an increased risk of fire injury or death. In addition to personal risk factors related to age and mobility, we found that many of the homes predate modern construction and fire safety standards. We decided to focus risk reduction efforts in these areas. Using our CRA data, we applied for and received a federal grant that gave us the ability to implement data-driven initiatives to educate each resident on cooking safety and install free smoke and/or CO combo alarms in every bedroom and the common areas of each manufactured home.   We’re roughly halfway through our efforts in these communities. Even through a pandemic, our Operations-led teams provided cooking safety education in over 550 homes and installed over 1,700 alarms. To date, these actions have directly impacted over 2,200 people in our District, including over 880 youth and nearly 130 seniors. We are proud to know our efforts have boosted safety in these neighborhoods. To learn more about CRR initiatives in Pflugerville, reach out to Daniel Berger at dberger@pflugervillefire.org. This blog series is intended to provide a peek into some commendable CRR initiatives and inspire those interested in CRR to jump in and join the momentum. Throughout the series, we’ll share brief interviews with  CRR professionals about the unique efforts taking place at the local level. NFPA is currently seeking new fire department to join the CRA pilot project. Looking for assistance with your Community Risk Assessment? Go to nfpa.org/CRR for more information about joining the project. Reach out to crr@nfpa.org with questions.
NFPA Logo

Wildfires are a community problem that have a community solution

When reading about the wildfires ravaging the western United States, it is easy to get bogged down with a sense of sadness as scenes from the frontlines are more and more heartbreaking. However, one thing is certain. People are pooling brainpower and mobilizing efforts to control what can be controlled. Out of the ashes rise stories about neighbors helping neighbors implement successful mitigation efforts in Firewise USA sites, researchers using data to identify pockets of high-risk residents who may need unique support during evacuation, and local agencies re-designing Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP) on the fly to consider added complications of living in wildfire risk zones amidst a global pandemic.    Community is at the heart of the issue.  We only need to look as far as the wildland urban interface to find this intersection of data-informed decision-making, energetic community partners, and residents who portray an ever-valuable sense of responsibility for safety. In fact, Firewise USA can serve as the perfect micro-model of Community Risk Reduction (CRR). Leaders in local initiatives collect information about the people, geography, weather, and hazards such as building materials and local vegetation to assess wildfire risk. They take stock of available services and resources. Then they pull local partners together to develop plans and take measurable action to mitigate risk. Most importantly, these initiatives truly reflect the “C” in CRR with a never-wavering connection to the people who live in the community. As we hear more and more about the silver linings that peek through the ash, I suspect we will find creative ways to leverage the passion and energy found in Firewise sites to reduce risks even beyond wildfire. Community Risk Reduction (CRR) is a process to identify and prioritize local risks of all kinds, followed by the integrated and strategic investment of resources to reduce their occurrence and impact. It requires a deep look at local data and consideration all of the puzzle pieces - geography, systems, and resources – to get a clear view of how hazards might impact resident safety. This Community Risk Assessment (CRA) is the critical first step in the CRR process. Once that information is gathered, a local team determines the priority issues and then develops plans to address those risks. The process, while it can be challenging, is hugely beneficial to those who are laser-focused in allocating resources in impactful ways. Stop by NFPA's CRR page for updates about Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction and access to NFPA 1300 Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development. You can also follow me on twitter @KBerardReed for updates about these important topics. Photo Credit: Firewise Photo Library As we navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA's response to the coronavirus, please visit our webpage.
GettyImages-84425664 CRR International Firefighters Day

On International Firefighters' Day, say thanks by taking responsibility for your own safety

May 4 is International Firefighters' Day. This special event memorializes a fatal event in which 5 volunteers from the Geelong West Fire Brigade in Australia lost their lives while bravely fighting an intense wildfire in 1999. While this tragic incident prompted the initiation of International Firefighters' Day, it is intended to reflect appreciation for the sacrifices all firefighters make throughout the world in order to ensure their communities are as safe as possible. We all know that firefighting is dangerous business. Firefighters put themselves in harm's way on a regular basis to protect lives and property. But it is important to consider that the scope of firefighters' work has broadened dramatically since the early days of organized firefighting. Imagine if Benjamin Franklin could travel in time from 1736 for a sit down with the current leader of the Philadelphia Fire Department: “Hey Commissioner Thiel! How's the bucket brigade doing these days?” “Oh, Ben – We are as busy as ever. Our members are doing lots of strong work! They respond to fires, car crashes, gas leaks, broken elevators, false alarms, trapped ducklings, caved-in construction sites, fallen grandmothers, derailed trains, collapsed decks, downed power lines, and flooded basements. Not to mention all of the medical calls. It all makes for a busy Monday!” I'm sure good ol' Ben would be curious about the journey his fire department had experienced over the course of the past 284 years as it transitioned into this all-hazards response agency. His eyes would pop thinking about how mitigation of each hazard would require new training, new equipment and new thinking – and increase the risks to the members of the department. Firefighting is dangerous work. It is easy to see how entering a burning building puts these heroes at risk. But the threats are expansive. When a fire department is an all-hazards response agency, risks related to exposure to dangerous chemicals, vehicle crashes, to heart disease and cancer, to entrapment, to electrical injuries – and many other issues - increase. Even with amplified risks, the fire department still responds because the words of Lt. JJ Edmondson shared in 1999 still ring true today, “The role of a firefighter in today's society is one of dedication, commitment, and sacrifice.” As such, when we reflect on the sacrifices made by firefighters over the years, it is clear the only way to honor their work is to become an all-hazards prevention community. One strategy to help drive that transition is Community Risk Reduction. CRR is an all-hazards prevention approach and while many people look to CRR as a process to keep community members safe – it is also about keeping our first responders safe! If you are community member wondering how you can thank a firefighter on International Firefighters' Day, the answer is simple: Do something to take responsibility for your own safety. Check the batteries in your smoke alarms, remove the debris around your home in preparation for wildfire season, remove the trip hazards on stairs to prevent a painful fall. Once you have done that, help a neighbor do the same. Advocate for community-wide prevention activities. Help to foster a culture of prevention to protect those who have spent their lives protecting us. The time has come to honor our first responders with action rather than words.

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