FirstNet is an important tool for firefighters as they battle a fire. Outside the blazes, the network can also enhance the fire service’s community risk reduction efforts. At the FirstNet Authority, we are engaging with the fire community on how FirstNet can support the “five E’s” of risk reduction: enforcement, engineering, education, emergency response, and economic incentives.
Risk reduction and the fire service
Community risk reduction efforts are the actions a community takes to reduce fire risks. These actions can include fire prevention, code compliance, public education, and risk management.
Fire departments are especially well-suited for risk reduction efforts because of their unique insights into the community. Firefighters see firsthand into people’s lives when they make calls to a home or business, conduct inspections, or host public events.
Community risk reduction and FirstNet
FirstNet gives firefighters prioritized, secure, and interoperable communications, no matter what their task is. The five E’s are strategies of community risk reduction, and FirstNet can play an important role in each.
Enforcement identifies fire risks and non-compliance in a community.
One role of enforcement is conducting inspections to make sure buildings meet fire codes. I recently talked to a fire marshal in rural Washington state who said traveling to inspection sites takes an average of 45 minutes each way. FirstNet-enabled technology can make these inspections more efficient.
For example, remote video inspections can save on travel time, staff hours, and gas expense, especially in rural areas. The FirstNet network can provide reliable connectivity to livestream video during a remote inspection.
Engineering promotes new fire safety technologies in a community.
Fire alarm technologies can be connected via FirstNet’s prioritized connection. Installing FirstNet-enabled alarm systems helps ensure that emergency signals are received in the monitoring center. FirstNet is especially helpful to fire alarm systems because of its reliability and security that help the network stay operational during catastrophic events.
3. Emergency response
Emergency response protects the community and the firefighters.
FirstNet is built for emergency response. The network has unique features designed to meet the demands of a first responders’ job. One example is FirstNet’s Z-axis capability that provides the vertical location of firefighters in multi-story buildings.
While every fire emergency is taxing and unpredictable, fires in multistory buildings increase risk. FirstNet’s Z-axis capability helps locate personnel quickly, efficiently, and without voice prompts. This helps to keep firefighters safe while they work to keep communities safe.
Education makes the public aware of fire risks and how to mitigate them.
I served in fire administration for decades, and we relied heavily on data to assess our performance and make decisions. In those days, data was collected in the field using pen and paper and then analyzed later at the station.
Today, FirstNet-enabled technology allows staff to easily upload data in the field using a smartphone or tablet. For example, when staff go out into the community to educate the public about fire safety, they can scan a QR code linked to a form to capture feedback on the spot.
5. Economic incentives
Economic incentives encourage individuals and businesses to make choices that reduce fire risk.
Community risk reduction efforts might include an initiative to clean up distressed properties to prevent fires and injuries in abandoned buildings. Economic incentives can encourage property owners to either secure their property or face a fine.
While canvassing an area, staff can use FirstNet-enabled devices with field maps to track activity, share data, and keep real-time records of distressed properties. This centralizes the project’s work and reduces paperwork for staff.
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