AUTHOR: Chelsea Rubadou

Does CRR Planning Give You Analysis Paralysis? Let NFPA 1300 Help!

If you’re new to community risk reduction (CRR), putting together a plan can feel a bit overwhelming, and may even inhibit your efforts to move forward. But don’t let that happen!  NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, can help. It’s the industry standard for conducting community risk assessments (CRAs) and CRR plans and a valuable tool for CRR professionals, providing a comprehensive framework for assessing and reducing risks related to fire and other community emergencies. NFPA 1300 features a structured approach for identifying, assessing risks within a community—such as fire, natural disasters, and transportation—as well as identifying vulnerable populations and assessing their needs. By using this standard, CRR professionals can ensure that they are thoroughly and systematically evaluating these risks, rather than relying on intuition or incomplete information. Another important aspect of NFPA 1300 is that it promotes a community-centered approach to risk reduction. This means that it emphasizes the need to involve community members, stakeholders, and other partners in the risk assessment and planning process. By engaging members of the community in this way, CRR professionals can build buy-in for their plans and ensure that they are addressing the needs and concerns of the people who will be most affected by the risks. The standard also encourages all the key departments within a given community, including the fire department, emergency management department, law enforcement, and other agencies, to work together to collaboratively reduce the overall risk to the community. This also helps build resilience and prepare the community for any emergency. In addition, NFPA 1300 provides guidance on developing a community risk reduction plan. This includes setting goals and objectives, identifying strategies and actions, and assessing the effectiveness of the plan. By following these steps, CRR professionals can create plans that are both comprehensive and actionable, and that can be adapted over time, as needed. Print copies of NFPA 1300 are available for free, so order yours today! Also, remember that CRAIG 1300™ is an NFPA® digital dashboard that can help streamline and maximize your CRA and CRR efforts. Aligned to the industry standard on CRR, CRAIG 1300 aggregates important community data, provides useful data visualizations, and curates data sets to assist those working through the CRA process. Learn more about CRAIG 1300 by taking a demo of this dynamic, easy-to-use tool today!

CRR in Action: 3 Questions with Patrick Corran, the Community Risk Educator for La Crosse Fire Department

Community Risk Reduction (CRR) is a process to identify and prioritize local risks, followed by the integrated and strategic investment of resources to reduce their occurrence and impact. This process has been gaining traction in fire departments around the world as a tool to enhance efforts to increase the safety of residents, visitors, and first responders. But what does it look like in action? As a member of the Community Risk Reduction team at NFPA, I am fortunate to work with passionate, proactive fire professionals who have real world perspective about CRR and its merits. It is a pleasure to share their stories in this blog series. This next interview is with Patrick Corran, La Crosse Fire Department’s first Community Risk Educator, in Wisconsin.  Chelsea: While Community Risk Assessment is the critical first step in the CRR process, many fire departments have enough experience to know they’ll need funding for CRR initiatives before their CRA is complete. How did this sequence of activities play out in La Crosse and how did your CRA support your Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) grant application? Pat: Great question! I’d say these things almost occurred concurrently for us. When I was hired, one of the priority tasks I was given was to create our CRA. I was ready to give it the old college try and do it on my own, but then I found out about the NFPA CRA pilot project and thought, “well, here we go, this looks awesome.” We were fortunate enough to be selected into the pilot. This was just huge for me personally in the time saved and headaches avoided. We don’t have a dedicated GIS person in our department so not having to farm out the CRA’s GIS needs to the city’s IT department not only saved our department time and money, but also other departments’ as well. Around this same time, discussions were occurring within department leadership that we would have to replace our old fire safety trailer. The decision was made to pursue a new fire safety trailer with grant funding. Some funding was graciously given from local partners, but the bulk of the funding was needed from the FP&S grant. We knew that to make our application as competitive as possible, and ultimately fulfill a strategic goal of acquiring this new trailer, we’d have to complete a CRA. Formal assessment is a large component of the FP&S grant and having a data-driven, robust, and complete CRA helped make our grant more competitive. The process of gaining a deep and detailed understanding of our community through CRA helped us distill down the individual areas of concern and specific locations in our community where there was greater risk. The mapping resources available in the NFPA CRA dashboard were phenomenal in assisting us with this hyper-localization of risk and vulnerability. Being able to illustrate this in the grant application was key. Along with the mapped incident data, the demographic and housing data available in the NFPA dashboard added important insights to what we inherently knew: that we’re a college town with lots of rentals. The tool brought it to our attention in a way we never really looked at before. The tool’s ability to compare demographic data and where certain groups of people are living against the mapped incident data was a powerful visual cue for us. When you can look at a map or chart versus reading data on a spreadsheet or a run list, it helps reinforce the topic at hand. The tool also helped to show us exactly the type of calls, the day of the week, and the hour of the day we were responding to certain parts of town. For example, the tool showed sometimes we are going to cooking fires on the weekends at 3 in the morning in the college district. This could very likely be students coming home hungry from the bars. In this sense, the dashboard definitely helped connect a lot of dots and was instrumental in the creation of our formal CRA. In this regard, the CRA helped in more than one way; it didn’t just help in its primary intent of identifying risks within our community, but also assisted in acquiring the public education tool to help prevent those defined risks. Chelsea: Last time we spoke, we spent some time talking about collaboration. How do CRA, collaboration, and the grant all fit together in your department? Pat: Collaboration is an integral part of what we’re trying to do with risk reduction. The dashboard and CRA help reiterate this need for collaboration. You can’t work to reduce risks without an assessment of risk and vulnerability. And risk and vulnerability are not things only endemic to the fire service. When you look at the maps and data available in the NFPA dashboard you see how the social determinants of health parallel those found in social services, public health, the non-profit world, and other governmental agencies. The risks and vulnerabilities people who work in these arenas see every day are similar to the fire and life safety determinants found in the fire service. This was a big a-ha moment for me. The fire service can’t work to reduce many of these risks on our own. Many of these concerns and areas of improvement are just too big for one agency to go it alone. I think an understanding of this, which was revealed through assessment, helps localize the need for resources and formulate plans. From the grant-perspective, and in our specific case, collaboration was a vitally-important element of the application. Per the Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), fire safety trailers can only be submitted via a “regional partnership” so this made us look outward and reach out to another area department without a fire safety trailer to see if they would be interested in partnering on this project. They agreed and we were off to the races. In this sense, if we didn’t collaborate we wouldn’t have even been able to start the project. We feel this partnership is going to enable us to expand the scope and reach of the public education we offer. We’ve also worked on increasing collaboration with this partnering department in other services areas, and recently signed a mutual-aid agreement with them. Emergency Response is another “E” of CRR and this agreement will help keep our residents safer when emergencies occur. It’s a win-win for both departments involved and area residents. Chelsea: Tell us a little about the project you plan to do now that you’ve been awarded the grant. How does it tie into your CRA and CRR plans? Pat: Our new fire and life safety trailer is a pretty exciting purchase and something we feel will greatly help in our risk reduction efforts. One of the most exciting aspects of it for me is that this new trailer is ADA and wheelchair accessible. One of the areas of deficiency with our old trailer was that it wasn’t accessible for people who use a wheelchair. This new trailer will help us close that gap and serve more of our residents.   This trailer ties in nicely with our CRA and CRR plans in that we’ll be able to use it to directly address some of our risks as outlined in our CRA. As mentioned, we’re a college town with lots of rentals, and our CRA revealed that most of our calls were in those areas. Inroads have been made to work with the local universities on cooking safety, general student fire safety, and rental information, and this trailer significantly helps with that. Our old trailer specialized in educating young children on home escape and smoke alarm safety. The CRA helped us justify the need for the new trailer to have all the bells and whistles to help engage not only our traditional audience of young children, but also better serve our older adults and finally engage our city’s sizeable young adult population that our assessment showed often exhibit risky behaviors.   We’ll also use our CRA to deploy the trailer. Since we can see demographic, building, and incident data all in one spot we can tailor our outreach and curricula depending on where we are bringing the trailer. It’s no longer a one-trick pony. The combination of our CRA and new technology gives us the ability to adapt our programming to the risks and demographics of a specific area.  To learn more about CRR initiatives in La Crosse, reach out to Pat Corran at This blog series is intended to provide a peek into some commendable CRR initiatives and inspire those interested in CRR to jump in and join the momentum. Throughout the series, we’ll share brief interviews with CRR professionals about the unique efforts taking place at the local level. This year’s FEMA FP&S grant is open for applications until February 26, 2021.

CRR: Where Data is (Tiger) King

#tigerkingnetflix         #tigerkingmemes   COVID-19 has flipped our world upside down. Whether you're on the front lines of this global health crisis or doing your part by staying put, we are all coping with losses and adjusting to new routines. For those of us who are lucky to be safe at home, we are looking for new hobbies and entertainment to fill the time once occupied by sports, concerts, parties, and even mundane errands. Well, in these uncertain times, one thing has become a constant in American households… and it's dressed in leopard print. Tiger King, a new true crime docu-series on Netflix, has captured the attention of over 34 million viewers with its volatile cast of characters viciously feuding within the world of exotic big cat conservation and collecting. With a love for animals and a fascination with true crime, this show naturally made it to the top of my list. Almost every scene has a perplexing twist, but one particular sentence caught my attention. In an interview with the documentarians Sheriff Rhodes of Oklahoma's Gavin County admitted that the local G.W. Zoo is what kept him up at night. It's easy to understand why. The zoo, which houses 227 tigers (plus other exotic species) on 16 acres of land, boasts that guests can get closer to animals there than any place in the world. On top of that, it's located in tornado alley. If that's not enough to make your Community Risk Reduction (CRR) senses cringe, the head zookeeper was quoted saying “If they walk in here and take my animals away, it is going to be a small Waco.” (Yikes!) When I heard Sheriff Rhodes' interview I paused the show and texted my colleague saying, “All I can think about is this town's Community Risk Assessment!”  “What keeps you up at night?” is a question many fire chiefs and community leaders consider every day, and the answer is usually the safety of the public and the safety of first responders. The process of CRR is a tool these leaders have that can reduce the occurrence and/or impact of risks that threaten the safety of residents and responders in their community. According to NFPA 1300, the first step in the CRR process is conducting a Community Risk Assessment (CRA). A CRA is a comprehensive evaluation that identifies, prioritizes, and defines the risks that pertain to the overall community. It requires local data to help define characteristics of the community, such as its demographics, building stock, geographic landscape, and public safety response capabilities. Some of the first data sources that come to mind for a CRA are the community's 9-1-1/incident data and Census information. These and other quantitative data are critical for assessing a community's risks and should always be consulted when making decisions around risk reduction programs. However, some information may not be captured by public data sources, such as the number or location of wild animals being held in captivity. That's where qualitative data comes into play. Sheriff Rhodes' knowledge of the risks presented by the G.W. Zoo didn't come from a spreadsheet – it came from experience. That qualitative data helps supplement quantitative data to tell the full story of his county. The institutional and personal knowledge that we each have about our community is important to a CRA. This example may seem outlandish (the entire series is), but we all have metaphorical tigers in our community. In this way, the G. W. Zoo is also a reminder to consider the unique qualities of every community. Uniqueness makes a community great, but it can be a double-edged sword. For instance, your annual county fair may strengthen your local economy and entertain residents and visitors. But the same special event can also change the risk landscape. The fair may present overcrowding dangers, bring more motor vehicle crashes to town, and maybe even offer the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pet tiger cub! (Please don't!) Consequently, a good CRA relies on local data, because it needs to be very specific to your community. CRR is not a one-size-fits-all process because each community has unique risks, partners, resources, and capacities. We all have our own tigers. To wrap this up for all you cool cats and kittens, in the words of former zoo manager John Reinke, “I'm sure y'all got a story to tell.” Let Tiger King be a fun reminder to let data tell the story of your community, but don't forget to let qualitative data narrate a chapter or two. Crunch numbers, analyze trends, but also consider the “tigers” that might be lurking in your community. And when you ask yourself, “What keeps me up at night?” I sure hope the answer isn't Joe Exotic and the G. W. Zoo.  In recent weeks as the coronavirus grips the globe, NFPA has provided a wide range of resources that support fully operational fire and life safety systems as required by the applicable codes and standards while balancing the realities of the current pandemic. Our goal is to support you and your work with useful resources and communications during this difficult time. How are we doing? How else can we help? Take our short survey and tell us what you think.

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