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Is Your Fire Department Prepared?

(Appeared in September 2016 issue of The Dispatcher)

marty-kingIt is the duty of a fire department to be prepared for the emergencies that may affect its community. As firefighters, we train on fires, vehicle extrication, EMS skills, hazardous materials response and other natural disaster responses. We review lessons learned from past incidents within the community and from other parts of the nation. We check our equipment to ensure it is in good working condition and ready to be used at the next emergency. We perform preventative maintenance on vehicles and equipment to prevent loss of use or downtime.

In other words, typically, we are well prepared for the emergency response elements of our duties, but are we prepared for the educational part of prevention? September is National Preparedness Month and shortly thereafter is Fire Prevention Week from October 9 to 15. Is your fire department prepared?

There are five E’s of prevention/community risk reduction: education, engineering, enforcement, economic and emergency response. As was mentioned, we are probably well prepared for emergency response, but the foundation to prevention and community risk reduction is education. Benjamin Franklin, often credited as the founder of the American fire service, coined the phrase, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’

This year, National Preparedness Month teaches kids the basics of emergency preparedness. Save The Children Federation has created a website full of messages, lessons and resources, which focus on creating ICE contacts (In Case of Emergency), emergency evacuation planning (from the house, neighborhood, or community), alternate shelter locations, and an emergency supply list. Learn more about these projects at www.SaveTheChildren.org/PrepStep.

In addition, now is the time to prepare ahead for Fire Prevention Week (FPW). Research and order resources in advance, especially those items that will be customized with your fire department logo. There are many vendors of resource materials, so contact your neighboring departments for popular resources and vendors they have used in the past. It is also a good time to stock up on resources that may be used during the upcoming year, since most vendors give discounts leading up to FPW or offer savings on shipping.

Information about free FPW resources can be found at NFPA’s website. Additional fire safety messages can be found at the U.S. Fire Administration website.

Take a few moments to look at your fire department’s emergency response reports from the past year to focus on risks that face your community. It will better prepare you for what prevention messages need to be created and delivered within your community to prevent or reduce loss due to these events.

For more information on how fire sprinklers save lives and property, please email me or visit National Fire Sprinkler Association – Wisconsin Chapter, National Fire Sprinkler Association, and Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

-Marty King, State Coordinator, NFSA-WI


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