Guide for Training Fire Service Personnel to Conduct Community Risk Reduction
|Publication Date:||1 January 2015|
The intent of this document is to provide fire department training officers or other fire service personnel with a guide for the establishment of a community risk reduction program for residential occupancies.
To be effective and to adequately deal with local fire problems, the solution to a particular fire safety problem should be developed locally. This document is intended to be a basic guide to possible elements for inclusion in a locally developed program.
Because the majority of fire deaths occur in residential occupancies, it is essential that community risk reduction programs become an integral part of the total fire and life safety programs in a community. This guide can be applied to both rural and urban communities. Principles contained in this document can be applied to single-family as well as multifamily residential occupancies, such as apartments, town houses, and condominiums, and manufactured housing, as local conditions dictate.
This document is not intended to be a training manual or a fire inspection manual, but rather to serve as a guide for establishing a locally prepared community risk reduction program geared to address the specific problem(s) faced by the local fire service organization. By utilizing fire suppression personnel in this capacity, fire departments can achieve some or all of the following benefits:
(1) Increased productivity
(2) Increased community contact
(3) Familiarization with residential properties
(4) Encourage life safety practices
(5) Prevent fires
(6) Prevent injuries
(7) Decrease crime
(8) Work with diverse cultures in a place of their comfort
Residents of the community also benefit from a survey program by becoming aware of the following issues:
(1) Fire and life safety in the home
(2) Protective measures to improve the quality of life
(3) Public safety and awareness
(4) Existing conditions and life safety practices
Specific sections of this guide can be included or eliminated as local conditions dictate.
Purpose. The purpose of this guide is to assist fire department personnel in designing and implementing a community risk reduction plan as part of a community-wide fire and life safety education program to reduce the burden of fire incidents, injuries and deaths, crime, and property losses in the jurisdiction served.
Fire incidence and losses continue to challenge all communities in the United States. Fire is a leading cause of injuries and deaths in the home, and residential fires account for approximately 80 percent of all fire incidents and deaths each year.
The local fire department is responsible for the protection of life and property from fire and related threats.Amajor part of that responsibility is public fire and life safety education. Educating citizens about fire and life safety will shift some degree of all-hazards prevention responsibility to each person in the community, thus making fire department personnel more effective in delivering a full range of fire protection services. Basic information for the public should include emergency behaviors in case of fire; the proper installation, maintenance, and use of smoke alarms; carbon monoxide (CO) detectors; residential sprinklers; radon detection; crime prevention; and a residential all-hazards action planning effort. An effective home survey community risk reduction program is a primary method of all-hazards prevention, with proven success in reducing loss of life, injury, and property damage from fire and other risks and hazards present in the community.
In addition to reducing loss of life and property damage, an effective home fire and life safety program can generate the following opportunities, which benefit the department and the entire community:
(1) Publicizing year-round community programs and activities (fostering the perception that citizens who support the fire department are getting more for their money in terms of a comprehensive fire service organization)
(2) Meeting residents of the community on a one-to-one basis and distributing various fire prevention literature, telephone stickers, and other fire safety information
(3) Installing smoke alarms where none currently exist in homes occupied by high-risk residents
(4) Answering specific fire protection or all-hazards fire and life safety inquiries
(5) Allowing fire fighters to become better acquainted with street names and layouts, hydrant and water supply locations, community development, and home construction, as well as pre-fire planning
(6) Using inquiries (4) and other useful information for discussion during training sessions
(7) Using fire apparatus regularly, thereby improving driver proficiency
(8) Increasing the productivity of fire fighters, specifically in fire service-related duties
(9) Assisting the professional development of fire fighters engaged in the program's activities
(10) Allowing the fire service to become acquainted with construction types, interior designs, avenues of fire spread, and locations of various concealed spaces (e.g., determining the entrance to attics and crawl spaces prior to an emergency)
(11) Improving fire service personal accountability and mutual trust with community residents
(12) Providing "all-hazards" information based on issues identified with local data
(13) Creating the potential for a community partnership with the police department to provide crime prevention information to residents
As worthwhile as the fringe benefits of 1.2.3 are, the most important responsibility is conducting community risk reduction activities in order to reduce fire and life safety hazards and to provide effective public all-hazards prevention education throughout the community.