AUTHOR: Karen Berard-Reed

People putting their hands together

CRR Week: An Opportunity to Set Your Strategy

Community Risk Reduction (CRR) Week is a grassroots effort that works to increase awareness of CRR. CRR is a data-driven process for identifying and prioritizing local risks and using that information to develop strategic plans that increase community safety. CRR Week takes place each January starting on Martin Luther King Day, a national day of service. During this annual campaign, many local fire departments, community agencies, and national organizations highlight their CRR efforts and help others learn about it. NFPA® contributes to the work done by CRR specialists by offering NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development. This standard outlines the critical steps of the CRR process and provides guidance about important stakeholders and partners engaged in the process. NFPA also provides tools to support the CRR process, such as CRAIG 1300™, the Community Risk Assessment Insight Generator. CRAIG 1300 is a digital dashboard aligned to the industry standard on CRR that wrangles important community data, provides useful data visualizations, and curates data sets to assist those working through the community risk assessment (CRA) process. For CRR professionals looking to build their collegial networks, NFPA offers the CRR Kitchen Table, a monthly virtual gathering where CRR peers discuss hot topics in the CRR space, share tools and resources, and highlight initiatives that are making a difference in their communities. The first CRR Kitchen Table of 2023 will take place on Wednesday, January 18, at 2 p.m. ET. The focus of this Kitchen Table session will be on goal setting for CRR initiatives; representatives from a variety of CRR-focused organizations will be joining the discussion. If you’d like to participate in CRR Kitchen Table sessions, please email the NFPA CRR team at  to be added to the invitation list. Additional Kitchen Table events are set for March 1 and March 29, also at 2 p.m. ET. Reach out to the team with questions about the CRR process or the NFPA tools and resources to support CRR efforts.  
NFPA 1300 and a shake

Community safety requires more than luck – and sometimes includes breaking from tradition

Each year in late February, my younger son makes the same announcement: “Let’s Go! They’re here!” What he’s referring to is that decadent St. Patrick’s Day treat, the McDonald’s Shamrock Shake®. At least once before March 17, I happily oblige with a trip to the golden arches. In recent years, I’ve had a dilemma at the drive-through now that the new Oreo® Shamrock McFlurry® is an option: Do I mix things up and order it, considering chocolate and mint is one of my favorite combinations? Or should I stay true to the classic minty shake, a tradition I’ve followed for years? It’s important to note that I have great respect for traditions. Professionally, however, tradition has become a bit of a trigger word for me. After years of working with the fire service, I am passionate about the value that Community Risk Reduction (CRR) brings to the table, but I know there are folks who have not yet embraced this strategy. I was once labeled a “tradition killer” by a firefighter who hadn’t yet bought in to CRR and it was a good reminder of the challenges ahead.  As I moved forward with our CRR initiatives, a nagging voice in the back of my mind reminded me to consider the disruption CRR brings to a profession rich with tradition. Still, the words of my boss, Lorraine Carli, vice president for outreach and advocacy at NFPA, provided clarity around the difference being rooted in tradition and being stuck in it, and the importance of recognizing the difference, at the first IAFC CRR Leadership Conference in 2019. “We cannot allow our peers and colleagues to prevent innovation under the guise of tradition,” said Carli. “The true tradition of the fire service is to protect and serve. CRR allows us to do this by getting ahead of that 911 call and addressing risks before they become incidents. It allows us to enhance tradition with technology, with data, and with improvements that match the current landscape. The result is a modern fire department making data-driven decisions to guide tailored prevention efforts.” These words have stuck with me ever since, reminding me that CRR is not disrespectful of fire service traditions. Instead, it uses all the resources we have at our disposal today to help fire departments keep the public safe. CRR is an innovation the elevates the brand of the fire service, while the protect-and-serve tradition of the fire service provides the roots for this savvy approach to ensure community safety. Whether or not you have the luck of the Irish on your side, community safety initiatives are enhanced by a data-driven risk assessment, by rich partnerships and stakeholder engagement, and by matching resources to priority risks in an organized risk reduction plan. If you are looking for a starting point with CRR check out NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development. While you do that, I’ll going to branch out and try that Oreo Shamrock McFlurry.

Among four key takeaways from the Vision 20/20 Symposium 7: CRR is here to stay

For professionals working in the Community Risk Reduction (CRR) space, the annual Vision 20/20 Model Symposium is considered one of the Superbowl conferences where great minds in the space gather for networking, learning, and problem-solving. After attending last week’s event in Murfreesboro, TN, I thought I’d share what I consider leading takeaways from the event: CRR is here to stay. As someone who has attended more than a few Vision 20/20 symposia over the years, the growth and sophistication of the model programs was evident. More communities are engaged in strategic CRR initiatives and more of those initiatives rely on data-focused Community Risk Assessments and evaluation. CRR is growing up and on its way to filling a fundamental need in modern fire departments. CRR has attracted community partners. NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, speaks to the importance of rich partnerships in the CRR process and it is clear that local CRR teams are finding value in connecting with partners who can provide work, wealth, wisdom, and influence to enrich their initiatives. Many speakers described unique partnerships that support local risk reduction efforts. For example, Chief Jason Moore from the Bloomington Fire Department in Indiana spoke about an innovative partnership with the local Hoosiers at IU to reduce fires, false alarms, and overall call reduction. CRR is transitioning to an all-hazards approach. When CRR was new to the U.S., early Model Programs Symposia were full of presentations about fire-focused initiatives. The presenters at Symposium 7 made it clear that the all-hazards approach described in NFPA 1300 is emerging as best-practice in the field. Chief Will Mueller from Colerain Township highlighted strategies his department implements to reduce opioid addiction in the community. Dr. Victoria Reinhartz spoke about a creative program in Manatee County, Florida that is working to improve heart health in the community. In both examples, the local fire departments have active roles alongside unique community partners (See #2!) CRR provides the process to help fire departments who identify as all-hazards response agencies apply resources for all-hazards prevention and mitigation. CRR professionals comprise a fabulous collegial network. The professional CRR community is friendly, generous, and supportive. Time and time again during the conference, I witnessed CRR experts and novices talking about local initiatives, brainstorming solutions to unique problems, and providing support to those who feel isolated as prevention champions. If you were not at the event and you are craving these professional connections, please reach out to the NFPA CRR team. We will happily share upcoming networking opportunities. If you missed this fabulous event, worry not! There are many excellent professional development opportunities to expand your CRR knowledge this year, including the Conference of the Rockies hosted by the Colorado Risk Reduction Network, The IAFC CRR Leadership Conference, and the NFPA Conference and Expo being held in Boston on June 6-9, 2022. And if you’re looking to learn more about how to apply CRR to wildfire prone areas, sign up to attend “Wildfire through a CRR lens,” a presentation on March 15, 4:30-5:30 p.m. EST that underscores the role CRR plays in helping jurisdictions assess and manage wildfire risks in their communities. I’ll be a presenter along with Robert Horton, fire chief of Fire District 3 in Jackson County, OR, and Ellis Thompson-Ellis, community outreach specialist at the Grand Junction Fire Department in Colorado. The presentation is part of “Outthink Wildfire: Identifying Solutions to End Community Loss”, a FREE one-day program NFPA is hosting Last but certainly not least, keep these two key CRR resources in mind: NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, provides guidance for professionals working to improve community safety. CRAIG 1300 is a new digital tool that can help communities conduct an effective CRA and establish a well-informed CRR plan.

Effective CRR strategies can help minimize the “Groundhog Day” loop of recurring 911 calls

There is much to love about Groundhog Day - an annual event: a fuzzy animal, quirky traditions, and reminders that spring is in sight, particularly for those of us who endure harsh winters. But for me, Groundhog Day stirs memories of one of my least favorite movies. No shade on the comedic genius of Bill Murray, but the film Groundhog Day is high on my “no thanks” list. Something about the scenes of one day stuck on a repeating loop grinds my gears and delivers high doses of annoyance and frustration. Similarly, I have come to realize that first responders experience their own kind of Groundhog Day. The fire service version might reflect repeated calls for assistance with false alarms, lift assists, or other non-emergency requests, but the common thread among these recurring 911 calls is that firefighters are stuck on a repeating loop of misdirected rescue. Recurring runs have an impact on first responders. It can be mentally and physically exhausting to respond to the same addresses over and over again. Groundhog Day calls drain human resources, time, and money. Most importantly, every trip out the door exposes responders to additional risks and can leave them to question if there might be a more effective way to meet the needs of local residents and business owners. Community Risk Reduction is an important tool for departments looking to combat the Groundhog Day effect. A data-driven risk assessment helps leaders better understand the incidents that may be over-taxing crews. Root cause analysis can lead to strategic problem-solving. Strong partnerships can provide solutions that alter the course of event response. For example, most firefighters know of patients who may benefit more from social services support than a trip to the emergency room. Partner agencies are the key to needs-based response and in some cases, they may be better positioned to fill the gaps that residents are experiencing. To be clear, Community Risk Reduction is not about passing the buck. It is about ensuring our first responders are as safe as possible while meeting the varied needs of community members. CRR leverages local partnerships to ensure equitable and efficient deployment of resources. If you are looking to turn the page on Groundhog Day, consider adding Community Risk Reduction to your toolbox. LEARN MORE 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 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.

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