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According to a U.S. Fire Department Profile Report published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in 2010, the U.S. is protected by 30,125 organized fire departments staffed by more than 1.1 million firefighters.
The make-up of these departments includes all volunteer, mostly volunteer, mostly career and totally career systems. Their size and districts run the gamut from a single-station department to the FDNY.
While they differ in the services they deliver to their jurisdictions, they have something in common – the passion with which they serve their community. That passion is brought about by their members, who have developed “best practices” in a wide array of critical areas – emergency responses, training, public education and maintenance as well as the business and fiscal responsibilities required to efficiently manage their organizations. Unfortunately, through no one’s fault, many of these “best practices” are known only within the departments that have put them to work.
In many cases, a fire department struggles to solve a problem, not knowing the potential solution is available from a neighboring department. These practices need not be complicated or expensive; just simple, daily practices developed by your emergency service organization that let you operate safer, more effectively and efficiently, while using sound fiscal and business processes.
With the objective of sharing “best practices” among fire departments, we are opening the pages of Firehouse® Magazine to highlight your proven ideas. Through this kickoff article, we are moving forward with a new “interactive” feature for the publication and Firehouse.com. We are soliciting your department’s “best practices” and the author, with assistance of a peer group, will select and showcase a new practice in each article.
Additionally, we will highlight other “best practices” on Firehouse.com called the “Best Practices Forum.” This forum will let us highlight additional submissions, available for readers to share their thoughts and ideas, and detail how the “best practices” are being used and integrated into each department’s daily operations.
Submitting your entry is as easy as accessing the application on Firehouse.com at http://www.firehouse.com/blog/10731437/introducing-firehouse-best-practices. Complete the application and attach any supporting documentation, if needed. All fields of the application must be completed to be considered and you must be willing to share your information and grant permission for other emergency service organizations to implement your “best practice.”
The “Best Practices Forum” can be used to highlight a wide array of ideas; which we will ask you to place in one of 12 broad categories best describing your entry. These categories include: firefighter safety, firefighter health and wellness, fire operations, EMS, training and education, administrative support, fiscal management, recruitment and retention, fire prevention, maintenance and logistics, fire and public safety public education and customer service initiatives. How you applied your “best practice” can be submitted in a wide array of applications, including: innovative methods and new techniques, as well as processes and procedures your organization or members have established to better provide emergency services or better assist in managing your organization.
Sharing what we learn
We all know that the collective knowledge of the fire service is boundless. As I have traveled and lectured, the knowledge I have gained as both a student and instructor is astronomical. A perfect example was a seminar taught at last year’s Firehouse Expo, as this interactive session was as much about idea sharing from the participants as it was a lecture. The students discussed proven methods used by their departments on a wide variety of subjects, including: partnering to save money on health and fitness evaluations; setting up multi-jurisdiction operational procedures; forming partnerships with industry leaders to pre-plan target hazards; using state contracts to purchase equipment for significant savings; modifying the rope in a “rapid intervention bag” so you can identify by feel the distance you are into the building; and developing an orientation program for prospective members.
The “Best Practices Forum” will be a partnership between the author, the collective membership of the nation’s fire service, Firehouse® Magazine and Firehouse.com. They say “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”; I say let the submissions begin. I look forward to reading your submissions and sharing them with your fellow firefighters. Please feel free to contact me if you need additional information.
Mark Nugent and Edward “Loy” Senter Jr. will present “Best Practices Forum” at Firehouse Expo 2012, July 17-21 in Baltimore, MD. Also, Nugent will present “The Designated Grant Writer: Can You Afford Not to Have One?”
MARK R. NUGENT is a battalion chief and 33-year veteran with the Chesterfield VA, Department of Fire and EMS, currently assigned to the Office of the Fire Chief. Nugent has associates’ degrees in fire science and emergency medical services and a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and development. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nugent discusses this new series in the July “Firehouse® Magazine Insider” at Firehouse.com/podcasts.