Fire Danger Today: Very High

Driven by Data: The Next Wave & Real Fire Service Leaders

I know the title of this post is a mouthful, but stay with me here. This is truly good stuff.

Data IS Dollars

I had the privilege of attending the Center for Public Safety Excellence Annual Excellence Conference in Henderson, Nevada during the week of March 10, 2014. One of the keynote speakers was Ernest Mitchell, Jr., the United States Fire Administrator. As he discussed the challenges facing the American fire service, I was struck by how often he mentioned the value that data now plays in nearly all fire department decision-making. Gone are the post-9/11 days of generous municipal budgets and seemingly limitless grants.

The hard, cold reality is that hard, cold facts are what fire service leaders need to make the best decisions about effectively serving their citizens with limited department resources. Chief Mitchell repeatedly explained how good data will play an ever-increasing role in reducing community risk, preventing firefighter fatalities, and even for coordinating regional resources for catastrophic events. He called this last component Demographics On Steroids: Big Data Meets The Fire Service.

Data IS Survival

The other keynote speaker was equally impressive, and quite frankly, inspirational. Chief Mike Metro of the Los Angeles County Fire Department spoke extensively about the fire service as a competitor‚specifically as a competitor to private fire and EMS companies that are quickly and effectively seizing opportunities created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Chief Metro explained the next big wave sweeping over the American fire service is community paramedicine. Soon, the days of EMS being just pre-hospital care will be gone. EMS is becoming an integral part of post-hospital care. Talk about a paradigm shift!

He, too, emphasized the importance data will play for fire departments seeking to demonstrate their value to their communities.

Regardless of where you stand on the private/public debate, one thing is certain: the agencies that are able to effectively collect, manage, and analyze their data will certainly have a leg-up on the competition. Effectively communicating that analysis to key stakeholders is what will take successful fire departments to the next level.

Data IS a Major Priority Today

These two remarkable leaders get it. They’re the lifeguards seeing the next big wave rolling in, and they’re announcing it to all of us loudly and clearly. Are you ready to catch this wave and deep-dive into your department’s data? Are you able to tell the story about your agency’s value to the community? Fire service leaders like Chief Mitchell and Chief Metro are not just talking about it; they’re doing something about it.

Stay Safe…Crunch those numbers.