Better Data Can Result in Better Policy and Operational Decisions

It’s been interesting to read about the recent publicity major fire departments from the East Coast to the West Coast have been receiving concerning the reliability of their response data. There have been accusations that fire department data may have...


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2. Presentation by the Multi-Phase Study Team covering the results of its work completed to date, including findings from scientific literature, firefighting experiments and an ongoing survey.

3. Discussion of the gaps and deficiencies in existing data-collection efforts, including the usefulness of the data, the motivation for entering quality data and the accuracy of the data.

4. Participants were divided into three work groups. A group was assigned to each of the following activities – the development of candidate data elements or metrics; the identification of research needs; and recommendations going forward. Each group completed its work independently and then reported back to the full summit.

5. Identification of the key steps along the path toward a national fire service data set. Nine action-oriented steps were identified during this session.

The importance of data cannot be overstated in the decision-making process. Good data helps leaders do a better job of identifying, using and measuring the effectiveness of fire department resources in all areas of performance, but especially firefighter injury and death, civilian injury and death and property loss. We must be able to more accurately predict, and later measure, the effectiveness of decisions that impact these critical outcomes. Bottom line, we want fire chiefs, union officials, city managers and elected officials to have the accurate data and information they need to drive good decisions. With that said, it’s incumbent on the fire service to have quality data available to provide to decision-makers at the appropriate level and at the appropriate time. The ability to do so might have avoided some of the embarrassing public attention fire department data management has recently received.

We must continue to emphasize the importance of quality data and create better systems for managing it. The report published from the National Data Summit would be a great platform to work from.

 

Dennis Compton will present “Creating and Inspiring Exceptional Fire Department Leaders” and moderate the “Chiefs/Commissioners Panel” at Firehouse Expo 2012, July 17-21 in Baltimore, MD.

DENNIS COMPTON, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a speaker and the author of Progressive Leadership Principles, Concepts and Tools, the When in Doubt, Lead! books, the book Mental Aspects of Performance for Firefighters and Fire Officers, and many articles, chapters and other publications. He was the fire chief in Mesa, AZ, for five years and assistant fire chief in Phoenix, where he served for 27 years. Compton is past chairman of the Executive Board of the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) and past chairman of the Congressional Fire Services Institute’s National Advisory Committee. He is currently chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Board of Directors.