Importance of Community Risk Reduction

Community risk reduction is not a new concept for the fire service. Fire departments have been actively involved in fire prevention for many years through public education, building inspections and other activities. Although there is no specific blueprint for developing CRR plans in U.S. fire departments, there are some common and essential steps. Ultimately, the CRR plan will be unique to each fire department, based on the types of risks for that particular community.

Essentially, the fire service exists not only to respond to emergency incidents, but also to proactively prevent or mitigate the impact of such incidents within their communities. CRR provides a more focused approach to reducing specific risks. In addition, a comprehensive CRR program involving community partners, firefighters, and other staff, can result in an organizational culture that recognizes the importance of reducing risks within a community. It is important that fire service leaders, their firefighters and other staff begin to shift their thinking towards reducing and mitigating risks, as this will ultimately be expected by their communities and elected officials. This will probably not be a simple or immediate change. As with any organizational culture—particularly within the fire service—there tends to be substantial resistance to what’s new, and a strong investment in the old ways of doing things.