Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock () or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Community Risk Reduction

A community risk reduction (CRR) program can help your department take what you already know (are probably already doing!) and intentionally focus knowledge and activities to lower the all-hazards risks within your area of operation.

Fire departments are uniquely positioned to know their communities better than most other organizations. Firefighters and emergency medical services responders see firsthand, whether through medical calls, inspections or simply driving through the community, how people live and the needs they have.

The USFA Podcast: Community Risk Reduction

This episode of The USFA Podcast features a discussion with the National Fire Academy's Mike Weller on community risk reduction. We also check in with the USFA's Mike Pritchard on the Fire Is Everyone's Fight initiative. Read or listen to the podcast

CRR: Where do I start?

Here are the 2 most important takeaways for you today:

  1. Learn about CRR through these 2 National Fire Academy (NFA) self-study courses: Introduction to Strategic Community Risk Reduction and Introduction to Community Risk Assessment.
  2. Conduct a risk assessment for your community.

Read on to explore CRR a little more in depth, including examples of successful community programs and resources to help with your program, but the most important thing for you to do after closing this page is to get started with the 2 takeaways above.

The 5E's

CRR uses a wide variety of tools to form a strategic and integrated program focused on reducing the occurrence and impact of local risks. The “5 E's” is one of the strategies used to combat local fire and preventable injury issues. When using this or any other strategy, be intentional about reducing your community's risk: base your approach on data that you collected through your risk assessment and then focus on that specific risk(s).

Focusing on risk: older adult cooking fires

The Worcester (Massachusetts) Fire Department, working with the Worcester Housing Authority, analyzed locations and populations at disproportionate risk from cooking fires in 2015. 4 properties housing low-income older adults represented nearly 24% of all reported cooking fires, with an average of 12 incidents per month.

The department applied for and received a Fire Prevention and Safety Grant to support a collaborative effort that replaced conventional electric coil burners with temperature limiting control technology units to prevent auto-ignition. 800 electric stoves were retrofitted with fire-safe burners and on-site safety education was provided to approximately 900 residents. In the 6 months after the installation, no stovetop fires were reported in units where smart technology burners were installed.

Education

firefighter talking with children

Education makes the public aware of risks and how to mitigate them.

Teach residents about risks in their homes and in the community through classes, home visits, presentations, handouts, articles and social media.

EDUCATION in action

Educating older adults about life safety risks

The Gwinnett County (Georgia) Fire and Emergency Services conducted a comprehensive community risk assessment that identified slips, trips and falls, fires, and poisoning to be among the major risks. The department implemented safety visits to reduce home injury risks for older residents through proven engineering solutions and on-site education.

Learn more about this program

A deeper dive

CRR and Education

This video features the Wilmington (North Carolina) Fire Department's Wendy Giannini-King and Mike Lee discussing the education E as it relates to foster care inspections.

video screen shot of presenters

Watch on YouTube

Engineering

fire sprinkler and a smoke alarm

Engineering provides an opportunity to work with local organizations and government to promote new fire and life safety technologies in your community.

Inform your community about risk-reducing products and technologies like heat-regulating stove elements, improved smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and fire sprinklers. Take opportunities at building inspections or community events to share this information.

ENGINEERING in action

Data analysis aids paramedicine program

Tempe (Arizona) Fire Medical Rescue Department has added innovative data analysis techniques to its paramedicine program to quickly identify likely repeat clients, monitor the program patient's well-being, and conclusively demonstrate the program’s ability to reduce future EMS calls.

Learn more about this program

A deeper dive

CRR and Engineering

This video features a discussion between Chris Brunette, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, and Wendy Giannini-King, Wilmington (North Carolina) Fire Department, on using engineering to reduce risk from COVID-19.

video screen shot of presenters

Watch on YouTube

Enforcement

propane tanks outside at a store

Enforcement identifies potential risks and non-compliance in your local properties and teaches your community how fire and building codes protect them.

Inspections are a great way to identify potential risks to local properties and non-compliance with codes that can lead to casualties and property loss. They also play an important part in keeping firefighters and EMS workers safe at incident scenes. Fire departments should participate in local government discussions related to hazards, helping to draft legislation that reduces community risk.

ENFORCEMENT in action

School inspections

The Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Office inspects schools in the state to improve life safety, ensure adequate egress, reduce ignition scenarios, and provide automatic fire protection systems.

Learn more about this program

A deeper dive

CRR and Enforcement

This video features a discussion between Kathy Clay, Jackson Hole (Wyoming) Fire and EMS, and Kim Stouse, Pocatello (Idaho) Fire Department/Bannock County Ambulance, on enforcement activities related to assisted living facilities.

video screen shot of presenters

Watch on YouTube

Economic incentives

outdoor dining bubbles on a city street

Economic incentives can be useful to encourage individuals and businesses to make choices that reduce risk.

Incentives can come in the form of benefits like tax credits that make installation of fire sprinklers more affordable or code exceptions that allow businesses to provide safe, altered services during COVID-19. Penalties and fines for non-compliance are also incentives that encourage behavior change.

ECONOMIC INCENTIVES in action

Securing distressed properties

The Surrey Fire Service’s (British Columbia, Canada) Distressed Properties Initiative ensures property owners take responsibility to secure their property or the city secures the property and bills the owner. Through this program, Surrey has reduced related fires by two-thirds, and recouped 100% of costs from property owners.

Learn more about this program

See also:

A deeper dive

CRR and Economic Incentives

This video features a discussion between Kathy Clay, Jackson Hole (Wyoming) Fire and EMS, and Josh Fulbright, South Carolina State Fire Marshal's Office, on economic incentives and how they can reduce community risk.

video screen shot of presenters

Watch on YouTube

Emergency response

firefighters wearing SCBA

Emergency response protects your community and your firefighters by ensuring they have the equipment and training they need.

Making sure your fire and EMS department's response is efficient and effective is key to reducing the impact of incidents in your community.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE in action

Recruiting volunteers

Columbia-Richland (South Carolina) Fire and Rescue's recruitment program focuses on getting volunteers that can assist the department in various ways. This new approach has led to an increase in their CRR abilities, including the successful completion of a community risk assessment conducted by a local college student. It has also resulted in an increase in the number of volunteer firefighters.

Learn more about this program

A deeper dive

CRR and Emergency Response

This video features a discussion between Arnold Baker, Chelan County (Washington) Fire District 5, and Kathy Clay, Jackson Hole (Wyoming) Fire and EMS, on the emergency response E as it relates to COVID-19.

video screen shot of presenters

Watch on YouTube

More content to help with your CRR program