October 20, 2017 - Friday
 

Community Risk Reduction

Build community trust and resilience through education and engagement

The Community Risk Reduction Division at Snohomish County Fire District 7 is a system and process in which programs, actions, and services within our community are utilized to prevent injuries; loss of life; loss of property; and damage to the environment. Community Risk Reduction activities identify and prioritize risks and apply resources in a coordinated manner to minimize the probability and severity of occurrence of fire, natural disasters, and man-made disasters.

Historically, the bulk of these activities have been provided through the Fire Prevention Division. However, the term "fire prevention" did not comprehensively encompass the value of the division's work in injury prevention, prevention of hazardous materials incidents, and other activities. Additionally, the former term didn't pay homage to our partners within the community.

The benefits of a safer community are achieved through:

  • Risk Assessment
    • Through incident analysis, incident type and location can be analyzed to make informed decisions about resource deployment, identification of trends, impacts upon community demographics, and the best ways to employ preventative measures.
  • Employ Strategies for mitigating risks
    • This step in the process is the "E" process, in which decisions are made on how to best implement ways to prevent these risks from recurring, or reducing the impacts of the risks.
      • Education — Whether our firefighters are helping a business owner understand the hazards created by overloading an electrical cord, or reminding senior adults about trip hazards in their home, education is one of our strongest tools for prevention.
      • Emergency Response — Community Risk Reduction efforts are aimed at preventing emergency incidents. However, when they do occur, firefighters are strategically placed throughout our community at 8 different fire stations. The risk reduction process may help identify ways for our firefighters to respond more effectively to emergency incidents.
      • Engineering — Through plan review and code compliance activities, sometimes engineering controls are employed to prevent incidents from occurring in the first place. Some of these engineering controls are fire sprinkler systems, hazardous materials spill prevention efforts, heat-regulating systems, and others.
      • Enforcement — Our code compliance activities are the backbone of our enforcement tools. Largely through state and local adoption of the International Fire Code, fire inspectors and plans examiners regulate risks which can lead to loss of life, property, and the environment.
      • Economic Incentive — Sometimes a strategy of economic incentives are employed to reduce a particular risk within the community. For example, businesses can receive a reduced fee for early operational permit renewal, which results in a decrease in incidence of fire and hazardous materials incidents due to fire inspections occurring earlier.
  • Measure and Improve
    • Like any process, implementation is flawed if there is not a program in place to measure the impacts of community risk reduction activities upon the very risks intended to be affected by such activities. The entire community risk reduction process is very similar to the DMAIC principles of business quality improvement.
    • Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control
    • It is crucial to our accountability of public trust and finances that we measure the impacts our strategies have on reducing risks within the community, and improve upon those strategies in an effort to achieve our objectives.