The Rochester Hills Fire Department, along with the Rochester Fire Department, not pictured, has been selected for the National Fire Protection Association’s pilot program to build its digital Community Risk Assessment tool.

The Rochester Hills Fire Department, along with the Rochester Fire Department, not pictured, has been selected for the National Fire Protection Association’s pilot program to build its digital Community Risk Assessment tool.

Photo provided by the city of Rochester Hills


Fire departments selected for national pilot program in community risk reduction

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published February 23, 2021

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ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS — The Rochester and Rochester Hills fire departments are two of only five in the state to be selected for the second phase of the National Fire Protection Association’s pilot program to build a digital Community Risk Assessment tool.

The first phase of the pilot project, which included participation from 50 fire departments across the country, helped NFPA officials identify features of a digital dashboard that will work effectively and those that need fine-tuning.

During the second phase of the program, which involves participation from 250 departments nationwide, the Rochester and Rochester Hills fire departments will have free access to a personalized NFPA Community Risk Assessment digital dashboard in return for feedback about the tool through June 2021.

The new dashboard aims to make it easier for communities to engage in the community risk reduction process — which officials said helps leaders identify high risks to their communities, and strategic ways to prioritize and alleviate them.

The assessment is the first step in any risk reduction plan, “but it can be difficult to know the best way to use your data,” Lorraine Carli, the NFPA’s vice president of outreach and advocacy, said in a statement. She said the digital dashboard will help those involved in risk reduction efforts “tell the data story of their community.”

As participants in the pilot program, both local fire departments will have free access to the dashboard — which includes customized maps, charts and graphs illustrating each community’s risks and hazards based on 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, enabling community leaders to make data-informed decisions around fire prevention and other risk-reduction activities in their communities.

Rochester Fire Chief John Cieslik said his team is honored to be participating in the pilot project.

“We’re hoping it will help to identify some important information — like the types of buildings, demographics of the area — and that is going to help us directly plan our fire prevention and the things that we can do to make the area of Rochester safer,” he said.

Access to the tool will not only give Rochester information about the community’s needs, Cieslik said — it’s also rewarding to know that using the tool will increase the tool’s effectiveness and help other fire departments in the long run.

Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett said the pilot program is a great example of how the city is always looking for new ways to improve services.

“Initiatives like this are one of the many reasons our Fire Department is ranked one of the best in Michigan,” he said in a statement.   

Assistant Fire Chief William Cooke, who will lead the pilot program for Rochester Hills, said the dashboard will allow the department to share its risk assessments with local officials and city administrators.

“Driven by our community’s data, current and future staff members will now have essential tools to help guide us in making good fire and life safety decisions for our community,” Cooke said in a statement. “We are excited to work through the process and to be able to validate our direction.”

For more information about the NFPA Community Risk Reduction initiative, visit www.nfpa.org/crr.

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