Vision 20/20 Initiative Launched by IFE-USA

Fire prevention is a year ‘round initiative. It involves a lot more than taking fire trucks to schools during a week in October.

And, beginning today, fire officials will be armed with information to show the folks holding the purse strings just how important prevention programs are.

The Institution of Fire Engineers USA Branch (IFE-USA) is launching a new web-based Vision 20/20 Fire Prevention Advocacy Toolkit that gives local fire departments tips on how to prove their programs.

The initiative was funded by a DHS Fire Prevention and Safety Grant to IFE. “We’ve been working on this for several years. Until now fire chiefs have had no method to justify their programs,” explained Ed Comeau, communications director of Vision 20/20.

“Not only is it saving the lives of civilians and firefighters, but preventing fires saves jobs…”

Among the information included are fire prevention advocacy strategies, community investment in fire prevention, implementing an advocacy program, working with the local media, evaluating your program’s impact and reaching audiences.

Comeau added: “Fires have a bigger impact on the community than people realize. If a factory or business burns, people could be out of work.”

A number of fire officials and organizations from across the country are involved with the strategies of Vision 20/20.

The toolkit was developed under the Fire Prevention Advocacy strategy led by Alan Perdue, Emergency Services Director Guildford County (NC), a member of the Board of Directors of the IAFC and supported by Peg Carson.

“In this economy, community officials and fire chiefs are confronted with tough decisions when it comes to what services to save and what services to cut,” Perdue said in a prepared statement.

“We all know that fire prevention saves lives and money, but it’s been somewhat difficult to justify these programs economically. Every day, a fire department responds to a fire every 23 seconds, someone is injured every 31 minutes, and every three hours someone dies. Annually, across the nation, fires cause $15.5B in property damage and these new tools can demonstrate the terrible impact that a fire can have at a local level on people, a community and its economy. A catastrophic fire can not only cause injuries and deaths, but it may also mean that businesses close their doors, resulting in losing both jobs and tax revenue. It’s really quite simple - prevention pays.”

Project Manager of Vision 20/20 Jim Crawford added: “There has never been something like this that local fire chiefs can use to prove the value of fire prevention programs.”

Crawford said officials can use the information to tell community leaders, city officials and other decision makers to prove the impact that fire prevention programs have in not only saving lives but making communities economically sound and viable.