Vision 20/20 is a project of the Institution of Fire Engineers - USA Branch
Building Community Risk Reduction Programs Statewide – Intentional & Strategic
South Carolina’s state model has shown increased department participation, CRR specific coursework attendance of fire personnel, alarm resource installations including home safety visits, creation of partnerships, and NFIRS data quality improvement. In addition, the state provides guidance, training, and four core educational messages to local fire departments to reduce fire-related injury, promote consistent messaging, increase data quality, and provide valuable resources. Participating departments with a flourishing community risk reduction program receive the Fire Safety Community Designation.
Local fire departments across the United States have partnered with the American Red Cross to check home fire safety and install working smoke alarms in high-risk neighborhoods, including tactile relay to the beds of people with a hearing disability or who are deaf. Households that did not participate in the program experienced a 79% higher rate of fire and three times more damage than participating households. No deaths or injuries were reported in homes that received an in-home visit before the fire, but sadly, there were thirteen injuries and four deaths in the comparison neighborhood.
Community Wildfire Risk Reduction in Austin Texas
Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, boasting a population nearing 1 million in 2020. Austin also has a high wildfire risk which is increasing with a warming climate and ongoing development in wildfire-prone lands. In fact, over 51% of Austin’s residents live in wildfire-prone areas. Like many communities across the nation, Austin has had to embrace the fact that wildfires are an inevitability, not an exception. While wildfires are a natural component of our native ecosystems, they don’t have to translate to wildfire disasters. The Austin Fire Department heeded the call to adapt to the threat of wildfires by implementing the National Cohesive Wildfire Strategy at the local level. This means we worked to confront wildfires using three key strategies: responding safely and effectively to wildfires, restoring the health of our ecosystems, and most importantly ensuring our communities and residents are empowered to reduce their wildfire risk. One of the keys to our effectiveness has been the integration of wildfire preparedness into Austin Fire Department’s (AFD) traditional community risk reduction activities. For example, AFD’s efforts culminated in the adoption of a Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) code in Spring 2020 that requires wildfire mitigation measures for all new and proposed developments in high-hazard areas. It truly takes a community to prepare for wildfire, so in Austin, we say “Wildfire is Everyone’s Fight.”
The Economic Benefits of Fire Prevention and Operational Activities of a Fire Department
After reading through the Phoenix report on the economic impact of the Phoenix FD, published in 2012, researchers in Quebec, Canada, set out to change the perceptions of Fire Departments in the eyes of elected officials and the general population. Using proven and renowned economic methodologies, any Fire Department can demonstrate its value. The Fire Department is not a mandatory government expense but an investment on which there is a return for local businesses, the regional GDP in job savings, the preservation of building heritage value, and the reduction of life loss.
Middle School Forensic Fire Investigation 101 – A Program to Reduce Juvenile Fires
A 43% decline over nine years of the number of teenagers setting fire and only three of the 9,316 participants caught lighting fires after participating in an educational program may sound impossible. Still, it happened in Spokane Valley, Washington. Ten years ago, juveniles were responsible for 34% of the intentional fires in Spokane Valley, Washington, and while the fires set by juveniles under 13 years of age declined, those set by youth ages 13 – 17 increased. Before the summer break, middle school students participate in a 50-minute forensic fire investigation-based class that has helped change everything.
The Quick Response Team – Reducing Opioid Addiction
Colerain Township Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Ohio, has a 43% decrease in opioid overdose rates since their peak in 2017 and a repeat overdose, per victim, from 22% to 6%. After a nearly 100% increase in opioid overdose responses in 2015, the nation’s first Quick Response Team took addiction resources to individuals who survived an overdose. The team comprises a law enforcement officer, a community paramedic, and a peer support specialist.
Reducing Risk through Innovative Collaborations
Bloomington, Indiana, now has zero university-related fire fatalities, on or off-campus, 26% false alarm calls, 80% reduction of fire incidents, and an overall call reduction of 37%. Maliciously activated fire alarms result in discipline after the second event, and fire and life safety are mandatory in orientation. Their Crisis Technology Innovation Lab uses university students to analyze their risk and potential technology-based solutions. “Smoke Signals” and “Relience2” are analysis tools to target maintained alarms systems, provide instant notification for enforcement activities, and help plan educational opportunities.
State-Wide Disability Awareness: Applying data analytics and program development to addressing CRR for those with disabilities
Data from Michigan fire fatality reports and home safety surveys revealed that 25% of the state’s fire victims were disabled. Working with the Michigan Disability Network, MI Prevention learned that their current educational messages and interventions were ineffective for those experiencing a disability. So, using a video for firefighters and one for people who wish to assist someone with a disability, they’ve increased effective communication and have regional advocates install need-specific alarms.
Successfully Reducing the Incidence Rate of Nuisance Alarms from Microwave Ovens
Ohio University’s Environmental Health and Safety Department and the Athens Ohio Fire Department reduced the most common cause of on-campus nuisance alarms by 67% over nine years. Their return of investment is about $74,000 per year for a device that stops the heating process of the microwave when smoke is detected near the microwave, preventing the room detection device from activating. This one-time installation did not include annual inspections for ongoing fire department involvement.
The Untapped Resource: A Successful Model Using Medical Experts for Chronic Disease Risk Reduction
Manatee County, Florida, reduced hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and ambulance responses by sending community paramedics to visit patients and working remotely with a pharmacist. Heart disease was one of the top causes of death in Manatee county. Hospital readmission rates for heart failure and COPD were 19 – 22%, and at least half of these readmissions were due to patients not taking their medications or taking them incorrectly. Manatee’s program uses one chief, two full-time community paramedics, one pharmacist, and one coordinator with referrals from any healthcare provider or community partner.
Presentation | Overview
You may believe that you don’t have a WUI problem, and that WUI fires only occur in western states, but more than 46 million residences in 70,000 communities in the United States are at risk for WUI fires. In fact, Texas and Florida ranked among the top 15 U.S. states hit hardest by wildfires in 2020. Also for 2021 were the states of Minnesota, New Jersey, West Virginia, Michigan, and North Carolina. Join us to hear why implementing CRR in the WUI is important for everyone and learn about the critical research, tools, and resources to help start or advance your program.
-Karl Fippinger, Vice President, Fire and Disaster Mitigation, ICC
-Tonya Hoover, Deputy US Fire Administrator, USFA
-Justice Jones, Wildfire Division Manager, Austin Fire Department
-Alexander Maranghides, FPE, NISTMichele Steinberg, Wildfire Division Manager, NFPA