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The Urbandale Fire Department was one of 250 Fire Departments selected nationwide by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to participate in the second phase of a pilot program to build a digital tool that helps community leaders make data-informed decisions around fire prevention and other community risk-reduction (CCR) activities in their communities.
“Community risk reduction actions are those actions that help prevent and mitigate the loss of life and property in our community,” said Urbandale Fire Chief Jerry Holt. “While we are the Fire Department, our mission goes well beyond just dealing with fires. We are constantly looking for ways to improve the safety of everyone in our community.”
Innovative technology and access to data is now be combined in new ways to help Fire Departments aggregate and disseminate data that pinpoint where risks exist within a given community.
The first phase of the pilot project, which included participation from 50 Fire Departments across the country, helped identify needed features of the digital tool. The second phase of the program involves participation from 250 Fire Departments nationwide (including six in Iowa: Urbandale, Ankeny, Hiawatha, Marion, Mason City, and Oskaloosa), and the Urbandale Fire Department will provide insights around the use of the dashboard through June of 2021 to help continue refining and enhancing its effectiveness.
“Participation in this project allows each Fire Department to provide important feedback that will be used to improve future versions of the dashboard, positions the community among CRR leaders in the United States, and signals an interest in leveraging technology to drive high-quality community safety initiatives,” said Karen Berard-Reed, community risk reduction strategist at NFPA.
As a participant in the pilot program, Urbandale Fire Department will have free access to the dashboard, which includes customized maps, charts, and graphs that illustrate each community’s risks and hazards across a variety of categories such as demographics, geography, building stock, economics, infrastructure, and event loss history. The dashboard also provides a snapshot of local capacity for risk reduction activities with information about public safety response agencies and community service organizations.
“We are excited to be chosen as one of 250 Fire Departments nationwide—and one of only six in Iowa to be a part of this process,” said Chief Holt. “This experience will enhance our ability to identify and evaluate the risk in our community and strengthen our ability to identify programs to address those risks.”
For more information online, visit www.nfpa.org/crr.