This month (January 2020), the fire service is reminded of the critical five Es during a week-long effort starting January 20 – 26, 2020. The event, brainstormed by members of Vision 20/20, kicks off on Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day – a national day of service. MLK Day, intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, and create solutions to social problems, is a perfect day to kick off an event that works toward reducing risk in communities.
Titled “Community Risk Reduction: Getting Ahead of the Call,” the week engages all members of the fire service by encouraging them to use the five Es – Education, Engineering, Enforcement, Emergency Response, and Economic Incentives – to benefit their community. The effort gets ahead of the call by reducing incidents, which translates into a safer community and a more reliable fire service.
Consider Education. How powerful of a tool education is when the community understands risks they can be empowered to prevent? Does my home have a working smoke alarm in all the areas needed? Does my family all know how to escape if there is an emergency? Does everyone know where our meeting place is outside? By educating your community, you give them the power to make positive changes.
Engineering brings us all better technology and tools to reduce risk. In the fire service, we have benefited from seat belts that alarm until we clip in, thermal imaging cameras which see beyond the smoke, and rugged gear protecting us from heat. For our communities, the value of engineering can be witnessed in new technology smoke alarms, which can sense the difference between burning toast and a burning sofa; technology which promises to take nuisance out of the fire alarm.
Through grants and community service programs, our neighborhoods benefit through Economic incentives in ways that make risk reduction possible for more people. One example has been building a partnership with collaborators. Fire department personnel and the Red Cross’ Sound the Alarm program have installed close to two million smoke alarms in homes across the nation. Since its inception, this effort alone has been documented to have saved 658 lives. Many fire departments offer car seat checks and reduced-price car seats for caregivers to ensure their kids are safely strapped into vehicles.
Enforcement is often reflected in the building and fire codes our communities adopt to ensure buildings are built safely. Many of this nation’s fire departments make maintenance inspections and, in doing so, prevent risks, saving lives every day. The work, our fire prevention staff members perform across the country are daily random acts of kindness given to our communities in the effort of risk reduction.
Emergency Response is the E we understand the best in the fire service. Through emergency response, we provide our communities quick response to the chaos and bring our teams together to manage emergencies and prevent conditions from getting worse. We work to hone our skills and provide the best service possible. They trust us to be there and to perform our job with excellence, and we are proud and privileged to do so.
Use this week to emphasize the importance of the five Es in your fire department. By getting ahead of the call, you will be keeping your community and your firefighters safer. Reducing risk helps us all improve the quality of our lives at home, our work at the firehouse, and our work in our communities.
For more information, check out: https://crrweek.org.
Chief Kathy Clay worked her way up through Jackson Hole Fire/EMS (Wyoming) starting as a volunteer firefighter in 2002. Holding an IAFC and Missouri Valley Division membership, Chief Clay also sits on the Wyoming Governor’s Council on Fire Prevention, represents the International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF) on the Vision 20/20 Steering Committee, and is a former IAWF board member. Chief Clay is the Fire Investigator for Teton County (Wyoming) and is a member of the International Association of Arson Investigators.