Failing to manage the challenges of budget cuts, rising call volume, personnel and equipment shortages, security issues and the overall expectation to do more with less, can leave individuals, fire departments and communities vulnerable to undesirable events.
The report was released by the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association, whose members are the fire chiefs of jurisdictions with minimum staffing of 400 fully paid career fire fighters. The Association is a Section of both the NFPA and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC).
The new report, "Fire Service Deployment: Assessing Community Vulnerability" warns that, ”in many communities, the sustained economic recession is forcing decisions to cut fire department resources faster than fire service leaders can evaluate their impact.”
Statements from the report
- Expectations placed on the fire service, including Emergency Medical Services (EMS), response to natural disasters, hazardous materials incidents, technical rescue and acts of terrorism, have steadily increased. However, fire chiefs are often faced with policies created by municipal officials who are challenged to balance community service expectations with finite budgetary resources and who do so without a solid technical foundation for evaluating the impact of staffing and deployment decisions on the safety of the public and firefighters.
- This is often a situation of planning fire department resources to budgets rather than budgeting to the proper plan. These whirlwind cuts can leave a community without sufficient resources to respond to emergency calls safely and effectively.
- If fire department resources are deployed to match the risk levels inherent to hazards in the community, it has been scientifically demonstrated that the community will be far less vulnerable to negative outcomes.