What fire departments practice that local community government should.

Many fire departments and insurance companies practice something that helps prevent injury, saves lives, and prevents financial loss. Anyone can do what they do, but local community governments absolutely should.

I’m speaking of risk management.

Risk management is used in many fields besides fire prevention and insurance, things like major construction projects, medicine, airline maintenance, disaster planning, wilderness management, recreation activities, pharmaceutical development, and others.

That’s risk management, but there’s also a close cousin that often goes by two names: Community Risk Management (CRM), and Community Risk Reduction (CRR). The distinguishing word here is “community,” and along with “risk” can refer to the oversight of sex offenders, disaster preparation, and extended safety issues managed by, again, fire departments.

A good example of this last one is the La Crosse Wisconsin Fire Department’s Division of Community Risk Management. They state that their “number one priority is the health and safety of La Crosse residents.”

The division provides a full range of services including: “construction and property maintenance inspection operations, residential rental inspections, electrical, erosion control, HVAC, and plumbing inspections, tavern and rooming house inspections, abandoned and junk vehicles on private property enforcement, and public fire and life safety education, outreach, and engagement.”

“The Community Risk Management division collaboratively works with other agencies and organizations to analyze and assess risks within the La Crosse community with the goal of preventing or mitigating the risks deemed to have the highest association to loss of life, and negative health, safety, and economic impacts.”

As to the management of community risk, or loss (a term often found in the risk management profession), La Crosse is certainly headed in the right direction. That is, they are utilizing a formalized process of assessing risk or loss when looking at all that community can represent, which when you get down to it, can be a lot.

Applying what are basic risk qualifiers – possible gains and losses that can occur – to a wide range of issues that are dealt with in villages, towns, and cities, they are broadening their information input to include groups other than just the fire department.

Community risk management offers the potential for effective management of gains and losses associated with almost any issue facing local government. Important also, CRM can improve how government is perceived by increasing transparency and accountability: it’s a win-win-win for everyone.