Strategic Planning is a Must for Fire Prevention

In the strategic planning process, we learn to think in the future and work backwards in an analytical fashion to address future issues we may face.

  1. Establish a mission statement and create a vision for the division. In past articles we discussed the importance of having the role of fire prevention in the fire department's mission statement. It is also important for the fire prevention division to have a mission which supports the overall mission of the fire department.

    Does your fire prevention division have a mission statement? What are the core values of the fire prevention division? Are you customer focused or user friendly and accessible to the general public (your customers)? How do you want the fire prevention division to be perceived by the customers you serve?

    Establishing a shared vision commits the organization to a long term commitment of implementation of the strategic plan.

  2. Identify issues both internally and externally that affect the future of the fire prevention division.

    Is there a plan for large residential or commercial growth? Is there a decrease in economic development opportunities in the community? Are there future budget reductions ahead because of a poor economic climate? Is there a potential for fire prevention staffing increases or decreases? Are the demographics of the community changing our target audiences? Have our target hazards changed?

  3. Set goals. These goals not only define the direction the fire prevention division will go but also lead to the creation of the division's vision. The creation of the goals will produce in-depth discussion of the strategic planning team which in turn is an educational tool for the entire team. This discussion often enlightens other team members of issues they have not considered or even know existed.

  4. Continual monitoring of the plan. Once completed this document will need to be revisited a number of times by the fire prevention division and even the entire organizations. When the document is produced it is imperative it is in an easy to read format and very user friendly. Essentially the strategic plan becomes a living document to be reviewed and modified as needed. As the internal and external influences change so may the goals. Do not forget to take credit and document when the goals are accomplished. Show your accomplishments.

If data has been collected properly, the goals set with reasonable expectations, the fire chief will have the needed documentation to seek approval of additional resources to implement the strategic plan and achieve the team's fire prevention goals.

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BRETT LACEY, a 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 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. To read their complete biographies and view their archived articles, click here. You can reach Paul by e-mail at: