For this assignment, I am actually going to somewhat summarize the paper I submitted last week, as I am very lucky to be a part of a fire department that just recently began to take this area of Fire Prevention seriously, and have been very blessed to be a part of spearheading these efforts. (Stuart, June 2019)
Now as I mentioned in my paper last week, Collegeville has a little bit of an issue with deriving our exact information, as we do not have a recognized census area. Instead, we utilized the help of the US Post Office and the San Joaquin County Office of Elections to perform our own similar accounting of everyone we could in 2010 and will be repeating the same effort via the same means in 2020 as we found out we will still not be considered our own census area for the next one either. In 2010, we were able to identify the District held about 265 residents who had an adjusted average income of $26,000 a year. The overwhelming majority of whom were some manner of agricultural worker, which is not surprising given the rural and farming nature of the majority of our District. Throughout the succeeding years since 2010, we have identified many changes to the community. We had a prison built by the State of California within our borders. We had a house convert into a residential board and care facility that houses patients who need long term care. We had the population of the elementary school rise as younger families repopulated its rolls. And we had an increase in the number of responses within the district to wildland fires due to the drought that plagued the State. (CFPD, 2010) (Stuart, June 2019) (Stuart, May 2019)
As we have moved forward with this effort (I oversaw and authored the Community Risk Assessment which was finalized just this past May 2019), we began our efforts by reaching out to the board and care due to a call we ran that possibly would have resulted in the full evacuation of all of their patients from a fire situation. We spent a few weeks working directly with them in helping to supply their facility with code compliant fire detection systems and devices, as well as worked to help them establish their emergency planning and practice it to ensure they were truly prepared for an emergency. We will continue to check up on them as they have now taken these efforts over. Our main strategy in reaching them was the presentation of the lessons that could have been learned the hard way from the incident of the small fire in their building. We capitalized on these teachable moments to help them realize the issues they had and the insufficiency within their training as a staff. This helped us then work with them to solve the problems as mentioned. (Stuart, May 2019)
We will next be concentrating on the agricultural population of the District. There are so many agricultural materials within these farms that pose the threat of a hazardous materials incident, that we intend to not only work on community education programs regarding the prevention of and emergency planning for HazMats, but we are also using the data we uncovered (Over 80% of the properties in the District contain some manner of Hazardous Materials that is not commonly found in the ‘typical’ residential household.) to seek the grants that will allow our little department to become better equipped and trained for such a response from the Awareness and Technician levels of HazMat certification within the fire service. Our strategy as of now will be to lay out a series of educational opportunities combined with the offering of free risk assessments of their ranches and farms to identify these hazards specific to them and outline a plan together for mitigating an emergency; all of which we will then turn around and use to pre-incident plan for the same kind of response to that property. (Stuart, May 2019)
If we continue to enjoy success overall, we will be taking the best practices and lessons learned to the many small fire districts like our own throughout the counties of San Joaquin and Stanislaus. For such a large area, there are actually only a few larger fire departments in comparison to the numerous smaller ones run just like ours. We are hoping to get our own house in order and then spread the word on how we did it with such limited resources.
USFA. (June 1997) Socioeconomic Factors & the Incidence of Fire (Retrieved from https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/statistics/socio.pdf) FEMA
CFPD Board. (January 2010) Local Census Compliment (Collegeville, CA) Collegeville Fire Protection District (CFPD)
Stuart, L. (May 2019) Community Risk Assessment (Collegeville, CA) Collegeville Fire Protection District (CFPD)
Stuart, L. (June 2019) Week Four Assignment (Farmington, CA) APUS
This weeks topic was interesting to try to research and find information on. Honestly, I am not 100 percent sure what I am about to talk about even hits the point however, I think it comes close to analyzing risk reduction within a community and how the fire department is dealing with/or trying to deal with.
Risk management is a huge component in the emergency response forces that serve every community around the United States. I found an article by Daniel C. Vock called “Fire Departments Struggle to Meet New Demands” (2018). In this particular article it talks about new risks and emergency operations that were tended to by the Charlottesville, Va. Fire Department. For instance, this department has had to deal with an aircraft crash in a deep wooded area, which was hard to locate and gain access to, performing water rescues from floods, train derailments (with Congress members on board), and tending to white supremacist rallies.
The workloads placed upon the fire department tend to continue to grow each and every year and the risk may stay the same or alter slightly based on population growth, weather changes, poverty levels, risky violent protests, etc. Of course when the population grows and/or ages the risk with elderly grows as well. Vock states these various changes in responses “requires training and planning for new dangers such as civil disturbances or active shooters.” Therefore, there may be a need to reach the community to develop bilateral cooperation to help education the population on new and present hazards in support or fire department objectives/tactics.
For instance, many areas around the globe have fallen victim to active shooter situations and educating the public on procedures to take when involved in a situation can help reduce the number or victims. I would make an assumption that this community will eventually have to make this address, if it is not already. Additionally, the same concept can/may apply to water rescue situations and educating the public on how to avoid water hazards from flood waters and that it may take a full community commitment to avoid the hazards of these basic two types of emergency situations. I cannot say for sure if these situations are presently taking place to remedy/reduce or if it is/may be a complicated topic to address with the community in regards to gaining “buy-in”.
One major piece I read in this article and what popped out immensely was “fire departments in the United States Responded to 35.3 million calls. That’s more than three times as many as in 1981, even though the U.S. populations increased by only 42%.” Frankly, these numbers do not generally make sense and something has changed along the way, perhaps behaviors!? Another key item mentioned was fire related calls decreased by more than half over that same time span.
The fire departments around the globe have transitioned from fire fighting forces to more of an emergency medical response force as the majority of calls are not medical related. To me, fire departments are well tuned into risk management, prevention, and mitigation of a wide variety of emergency response calls. The key to reducing negative trends is training, education, community involvement, and active preparation for what is likely rather than assuming the “it will never happen to me” mantra. You hear it time and time again that when something bad happens to someone they mention they never thought that would happen to them but when it does, they wish they would have prepared ahead. Plan, train, get community involved in reducing unfavorable trends.
Vock. Daniel, C. (2018) “Fire Departments Struggle to Meet New Demands” Accessed July 3 2019. https://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/gov-firefighters-firehouse.html