Latency And Strategy
Completely shutting down fire prevention functions won't result in an immediate apocalypse. The good work that was done on prevention and mitigation will last for a while. However, the longer prevention and mitigation functions remain sluggish or dormant, the more severe the outbreak of fire incidence and damage will occur. Careful monitoring of statistics and loss will provide evidence of developing trends and may help predict when efforts must be adjusted to stave off major events. This should be the time we evaluate cause and effect and mitigation and outcome. Establish measurable benchmarks and monitor trends. Communicate these data points frequently and provide anecdotal evidence of process and achievements. Communicate frequently with your Chief, your policy makers and the public. Be objective and provide facts that can regularly be replicated and analyzed. Don't try exaggerate the facts. Those will immediately be suspect and dilute all of your efforts.
Remember, hard times require lots of effort and commitment to hard decisions. Don't spend time trying to control things that are outside your control. That will make you crazy. Be open to opinions, perspectives and other's perceptions. Defend the faith, but understand there are a lot of competing factors in troubled financial times. Try not to take things personal, and help your staff from feeling attacked. Remember that the crummy decisions are likely coming from a crummy list of choices. Presume good will and focus on the mission. There are a lot of people who rely on your expertise, your training and your ability to sell prevention. We know how important it is. Lets do a better job of helping others understand what we know.
BRETT LACEY, a Firehouse.com Contributing Editor, is the Fire Marshal for the Colorado Springs, CO, Fire Department and a professional engineer. He has over 27 years in the fire service and has served on various technical committees including NFPA 1031, IFSTA committee for Inspection practices, and Fire Detection and Suppression Systems and the Colorado Fire Marshal's Association Code Committee. PAUL VALENTINE, a Firehouse.com Contributing Editor, is the Fire Marshal for the Mount Prospect, IL, Fire Department and formerly served as their fire protection engineer. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology from Oklahoma State University and a Master of Science Degree in Management and Organizational Behavior from Benedictine University and is a graduate from the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer Program. Brett and Paul co-authored Fire Prevention Applications, published by Fire Protection Publications. They also presented a webcast titled Fire Prevention Applications on Firehouse TrainingLIVE. To read their complete biographies and view their archived articles, click here. You can reach Paul by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.