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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com with questions.