The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department (FCFRD) was one of 25 departments selected to receive a grant from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) as part of its pilot program to build a community risk assessment (CRA) tool. The tool will enable fire departments to make data-informed decisions around fire prevention and other risk-reduction activities.
According to NFPA, the concept of community risk reduction – a process that identifies and prioritizes the risks specific to a particular location – has been gaining traction across North America for more than 20 years. New technology, access to data, and a shifting focus on prevention have resulted in new energy around this process. Reflecting that momentum, NFPA’s CRA tool is being designed to help fire departments aggregate and disseminate data that pinpoints where risks exist within a given community.
“Access to accurate data is critical to making informed decisions about where to focus efforts and resources,” said Karen Berard-Reed, community risk reduction strategist at NFPA. “While many fire departments have struggled to work with data sets, NFPA’s CRA tool will do the complex work behind the scenes allowing stakeholders to create effective community risk reduction plans within their jurisdictions.”
Berard-Reed notes that fire departments’ participation in CRA tool pilot program is critical to its success and impact. To date, more than 150 fire departments throughout the U.S. have applied to participate and a total of 50 grants will be selected in 2019. The initial 25 departments awarded grant funding were selected based on a variety of factors, including size, geography, region, experience with CRR activities, support from the community, as well as other indicators. Another 25 departments will be awarded in September.
“We are thrilled to have been awarded this grant,” said Battalion Chief George Robbins, commander of FCFRD’s Community Risk Reduction section. “Not only will access to the tool give us invaluable information about our community’s needs, but it is rewarding to know that using the tool will increase its effectiveness and help other fire departments in the long run.”
Each grant includes access to a digital risk visualization dashboard powered by mySidewalk, an innovative community intelligence platform that employs local and national data to guide planning around fire and life safety initiatives. Grant recipients will have access to a personalized dashboard for their community through July 31, 2020. The grant covers the cost of the dashboard, training, and networking opportunities with other participating fire departments and is valued at more than $7,000.
The CRA dashboard will help participating departments identify local risks to life and property, highlight underlying conditions that may contribute to those risks, develop CRR data-informed plans, and share findings with stakeholders.
For more information about the NFPA Community Risk Reduction initiative, visit www.nfpa.org/crr.