The Wauseon Fire Department has been accepted as part of a national pilot program developed to seek out fire and rescue data and use it to create preventative programs.
WFD is among 250 nationally registered fire departments of various sizes across the country chosen to provide data to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) for up to the next year. Statistics such as types of fires and EMS runs and their times of day and locations will be used by NFPA to help develop community risk reduction programs within the nation’s fire departments.
The pilot program is devoted to determining whether the collection and analyzation of data from across the U.S. can result in developing programs that can help prevent burgeoning fire and rescue problems.
The WFD was selected through an NFPA application process that was assisted by the Ohio Fire Academy.
“The whole data collection process is to help where the actual problems in your community are. That way, you know where to direct your prevention measures at,” Wauseon Fire Chief Rick Sluder said. “If this works in one community, and they can get rid of a certain type of call volume to greatly reduce the risk to their community, then we know where to drive the prevention measures in other communities or how to collect the data to get the right prevention measure into the right community.”
Sluder said the data WFD and other participating departments provide to the program can offer NFPA insight into resolving problems fire departments face, essentially trying to prevent problems before they happen and reduce whatever types of calls the departments receive.
He said the data collected can help NFPA identify increasing problems and pump that information back into communities. He cited as an example a growing number of fires nationally over the past two months caused by dishwashers.
NFPA helps Wauseon’s fire department design and implement fire protection programs, “so the good data going in makes for a better prevention program that we can put out for the community,” Sluder said. “There may be people across the community having problems the fire department doesn’t know about.”
Once the NFPA provides its collected data WFD can identify what the problems are and prevent them from happening, he said.
Brittany Roof, WFD executive assistant, said data the department provides won’t be as in-depth as that of larger urban departments with larger call volumes, but it will still provide valuable information. All of the collected and analyzed data will eventually be provided to the nation’s fire departments and included in online dashboards.
Collecting, analyzing, and releasing the data will take six months to a year. But once the data is accessible WFD will release it to the public.
“We take a lot of extra time to make sure we provide good reports so we have good data,” Sluder said. “(T)hen the department can take that information and make improvements on the other end.”
The cost of developing community risk reduction programs can come from state and federal resources, he added.
“On the back side of it, if we can prevent things from happening, that’s the cheapest way to run the fire department,” Sluder said. “Our best days are the days we don’t have to turn a wheel and go out the door, because then we’ve all saved money.”
By benefiting from data provided by both large and small fire departments across the U.S. fire services can develop programs to help avoid fires, accidents, and slips and falls in the elderly community, he said.
Sluder said NFPA’s pilot program is no different than when any industry collects data to determine trouble areas and how to fix them. “We’re just trying to get involved to make sure that our local constituents receive the most service from their fire department as they possibly can,” he said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.