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Time to Review the Year’s Accomplishments

(Appeared in December 2016 issue of The Dispatcher)

marty-kingThe end of the calendar year is generally a time to reflect on the year’s accomplishments and determine whether goals and objectives set at the end of the previous year were met. Hopefully, it is not a time of stress caused by frantic, last-minute hustling to complete the requirements and most important tasks.

So, how did you do on your goals and objectives for fire prevention and community risk reduction? What have you reported to show your accomplishments and that you were on the right track during the year? Now, I realize that today’s sometimes seemingly impossible mantra is, “Do more with less.” So the question is, “Do you manage your time or does time manage you?”

Without set goals and objectives, how will you know that you accomplished anything? Do you measure and report what has been done? Unfortunately, fire prevention is often misunderstood because we do not measure and report. Vision 20/20 and NFPA have categorized four areas of fire prevention/community risk reduction that can be measured and reported: fire inspections, fire and life safety education, plan review, and fire investigation. These four categories are linked in prevention/risk reduction because of the impacts they can have.

The fire inspection category would have basic performance measures in number of inspections performed — better yet, number of each specific type of inspections performed. This could be further improved to add percentage of required inspections performed. Looking at the number of inspections performed by each inspector gives you a management tool to individually evaluate them. You must also look at the time spent inspecting, as well as time spent inspecting each specific type of occupancies. Violation tracking can tell you not only the types of violations recorded but also the most common violations, most common violations with specific occupancies, time to correct, and enforcement actions taken (number of re-inspections, citations issued, court appearances). You can also look at fees collected for services (two percent dues, fire inspection, plan review, site inspections, special inspections) to see if the community is properly reimbursed for the services provided.

This similar process can be applied to the other three categories to measure effectiveness and point out areas to improve or revise. These performance measures will point you to needed improvement, which revolves around education. This can be as simple as revised training for fire inspection personnel or as complex as developing a community risk reduction program to address a particular community risk. Performance measures will help identify the areas to focus your limited resources. Evaluation will help assure you are on the right track.

Education is the key. Fire officials often believe that they do not have time for education, so it is usually the first thing dropped when faced with a budget shortfall, yet they cannot afford additional emergency responses for a preventable incident(s).

Take the time to review this December. Look at what you accomplished and what was set aside. Did you provide the prevention effort that made a difference within your community? Look at what you could have improved to accomplish the goal of reducing risk to the community and your fire department.

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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