What Fire Departments and Insurance Companies Know that Local Community Government Should (but Don’t)

There is a practice that many fire departments and most if not all insurance companies perform that prevents injury, saves lives, and prevents financial loss. Anyone can do what they do, but local community governments absolutely should, and for all the same reasons: it prevents injury, saves lives, and prevents financial loss. I’m speaking of course 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 many many more.

That’s risk management, but there’s also something called, community risk management. Here the word, community, represents a group defined by a common characteristic, such as sex offenders (a sociologic grouping), shore-line habitation (disaster preparation), or a functional grouping like military – all have used community risk management.

There are also local village, town, city community risk management programs that focus on a range of mainly hazard risks. A good example of this 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 inspection operations
  • Full electrical, erosion control, HVAC, and plumbing inspection operations
  • Tavern and rooming house inspection operations
  • Abandoned and junk vehicles on private property enforcement
  • Electrical and gas licensing
  • Assignment of property addresses
  • Fire inspection and investigation
  • Public fire and life safety education, outreach, and engagement

They also state that “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.” My italics.

They are headed in the right direction: 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 – and they broaden their information input to include groups other than just the fire department.

Community risk management – the managing of gains and losses of any deliberated issue – should be utilized by communities – village, town, and city government – not only by their fire departments and insurance companies in order to resolve such things as Christmas tree fires and financial losses, but also the range of issues they often face – like determining which pedestrian crossing merits corrective action, or where a solar array should be placed.


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