Council briefed on Fire Department’s Neighborhood Risk Reduction program

At their meeting on March 16, Charlottesville City Council got a report from the fire department on their new approach toward Community Risk Reduction, which is intended to lower service calls through various preventative measures. Joe Powers was hired from Henrico County to be the first deputy chief for community risk reduction. 

“We’re one of the few fire departments across the United States that has invested in community risk reduction at an executive level,” Powers said. “From a traditional standpoint, we’ve always heard of fire prevention as a part of the fire department. We’re changing that mindset and taking it from a section of the fire department and making it an organizational process.”

Part of the work involves reviewing neighborhoods, looking for specific threats, and then tailoring targeted messages. 

“The entire city doesn’t need a program on cooking fires or pedestrians crossing the street,” Powers said. “Maybe it’s certain intersections or certain neighborhoods.”

A lot of the work has to do with gathering data that can help the department move away from one-size-fits-all approach to community education efforts. Another name for it is neighborhood risk assessment. 

“We also need to understand where our structure fires, but more so we need to know where asthma is occurring, allergic reactions, hazardous material calls, and cardiac arrests because all of those risks in areas of the city can be mitigated with our partners and in the fire department,” Powers said. 

I’ll have more from the City Council meeting in a future installment. 

The department has conducted risk assessments of individual neighborhoods such as this one for 10th and Page (full presentation)

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the March 17, 2021 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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