Fire Chief Jeremy Holmes talks about how data has helped identify and address risks in Covington, GA

Jeremy Holmes, fire chief in Covington, GA was a participant in NFPA’s pilot project for CRAIG 1300™, our new digital tool that supports effective community risk reduction (CRR) plans. The project included some 300 fire departments across the country that used CRAIG 1300 over several months, providing feedback and insights on what elements of the tool worked and where fine-tuning was needed.

mySidewalk, the community data group that NFPA worked with to create CRAIG 1300, recently talked with Chief Holmes about his experience using CRAIG 1300 and how his department used the data to more efficiently and effectively drive community safety initiatives.

Here are consolidated excerpts from that interview:

Can you tell us about the community you serve?
Covington is a diverse community with lots of industries, including the filming industry. In fact, Covington is called “the Hollywood of the South”. We have a million square foot filming facility, so that filming is always going on. More than 300 movies have been filmed here.

We also have many types of homes, from old plantation style homes to new constructions, along with lots of apartment complexes. An additional 1,100 units will be built in the next year.

And there’s a huge tourism population as well.

In what ways has CRAIG 1300 helped identify risks or challenges in your community?
It’s helped us in several ways.

We first started using CRAIG 1300 around the time COVID first broke out. CRAIG 1300 showed us that needed resources and testing weren’t getting to the public adequately. In particular, COVID testing wasn’t being done in minority areas – they didn’t have access to the internet or transportation, so they couldn’t get to COVID testing sites and they weren’t getting the information they needed. CRAIG 1300 created visuals based on that data, which helped show our leadership what the issues were and made it easy to get approval on moving forward with our plans. Since then, we’ve been able to work on getting needed information to those communities.

We also created a Power Point presentation using CRAIG 1300 data to show that response times have increased in recent years, which helped us identify where a new fire station would be best located.

In addition, we’ve used CRAIG 1300 to better identify areas that need smoke alarm installations; educate areas where we were seeing an increase in cooking fires; create a budget for purchasing golf carts so that EMS could more effectively search for people who get lost on local hiking trails; and to identify people who over-use the 911 system and better educate them on what does and doesn’t qualify as an emergency call.

Have there been any challenges in using CRAIG 1300?
I’ve been working to make sure my department sees CRAIG 1300 as a positive. There was an initial perception that it would highlight flaws in our work, but the reality is that it’s helped point out where efforts can be more focused and ways we can strengthen our efforts.

What would you tell others about the value of CRAIG 1300?
Soon after our application to participate in the CRAIG 1300 pilot program was accepted, I attended a conference in Miami where I saw how other agencies were collecting data and what they were doing with it. I realized how data and public education could come together could make our department more impactful in reaching community. Overall, I would say that CRAIG 1300 gets you fired up about what you can do in your community.

Jeremy’s experience and insights using CRAIG 1300 have helped NFPA better understand how fire departments and other safety advocates are using data to better identify and address fire and life safety risks within their communities.

Learn more about CRAIG 1300 and how it can help gather data to better inform your fire department about where risks exist lie within your community. Also, NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development provides guidance for professionals working to improve community safety.

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Susan McKelvey
Communications Manager

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