Chief Concerns

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CHIEF CONCERNS: How to Talk to Local Officials About Standards of Cover

The Standard of Cover planning process requires communication and collaboration between fire department officials, local leaders and the community.

Chief Concerns: Three Things A Fire Chief Should Know About Evidence-Based Fire Suppression

Evidence-based practice in emergency services is typically associated with medical care; but the term refers to the application of research methodology to guide operational practice and departmental priorities—something that should apply to fire suppression and rescue operations as well. Historically, however, fire service protocols and procedures have developed through trial and error, best practices and tradition.

Chief Concerns: Fire Service Fatigue- A Problem You Can’t Afford to Ignore

In the hours after a train derailed in Philadelphia, killing eight people, news reports were already stating that the engineer’s recent work schedule would be examined. This wasn’t surprising, given that just weeks earlier, the National Transportation Safety Board stated that operator fatigue was partially to blame for another train crash that occurred in Chicago last year. Anyone who’s worked in the fire service knows that fatigue can impact one’s work performance. In the aftermath of major incidents, we don’t always focus on fatigue as a factor—and it’s often extremely difficult to know just what role it plays when it comes to vehicle crashes, fireground injuries, or medical errors. One thing is clear, however: employee fatigue impacts every fire department, no matter how big or small, or what type of shift schedule. It’s an issue that no fire chief should ignore.

Chief Concerns: How is your Communications Center Performing?

What the question really means: Evaluating your communications center’s performance is about more than whether the center is private or public, staffed with sworn or civilian personnel, or a single-agency or multi-agency dispatch center. The cornerstone of assessing your communications center is the use of evidence-based standards rooted in industry best practices—and analyzing the impact they have on your department’s operations.

Chief Concerns: Preparing for Scrutiny

Scrutiny. It may arrive at your doorstep in a variety of forms and perhaps when you are least prepared to deal with it. Increased scrutiny could arrive in the wake of questionable performance, like when a victim dies after a delayed response to a fire. It could be the result of a probing investigation by the media during budget debates. Perhaps your agency is in the middle of a contract negotiation that raises the level of interest in its internal operations. Or the heightened scrutiny could come even with the arrival of a consultant that you or your supervisors invited to appraise and advise the agency. As the Fire Chief—think of yourself as the CEO of the department—you cannot afford to be surprised or ill prepared for any of these events.

Chief Concerns: Community Risk Reduction

Good fire chiefs understand the importance of assessing risk in their communities. But the most progressive chiefs are actively working to reduce that risk by implementing Community Risk Reduction programs. They are shifting their stance on risk from reactive to proactive—all in the name of better service to their communities.