Fire Services are constantly being asked by authorities to find ways to reduce the cost of service delivery, improve standards and implement cultural and organizational change.
Some, like those in the UK, are subject to compulsory government inspections which grade standards from ‘Outstanding’ to ‘Inadequate’.
The immediate options for Chiefs to seek advice and solutions are usually limited to internal brainstorming, or looking at how other local services with better results operate.
In the USA, many Departments are facing a funding crisis as government-issued grants get stretched thinner and many are having to find ways of reducing operating costs and doing more with less. Unlike healthcare and education sectors, there is no mandatory external inspection of Fire Services in the US and of the 29,000+ municipal Departments, only 216 have voluntarily paid for a programme of evaluation and accreditation run by the CPSE – Center for Public Safety Excellence, a process which takes 3–5 years to achieve. The ISO has an inspection programme that the insurance industry uses to calculate rates, but it only judges a Department’s structural fire mitigation and suppression capability, not the majority of services they actually provide, such as EMS and rescues.
Gannon Emergency Solutions (GES) has specialized in the review and improvement of Fire and Rescue Services globally since 2002, working on five continents and building a unique and unparalleled collection of experience, best practice and methodology.
They found that very few consultants were available to give organizations an affordable, holistic review and actually commit to projects in certain countries. They also found that Fire Services don’t do a great job of sharing information and, like drivers, can suffer from blind spots.
CEO and Founder Chris Gannon says: ‘A review is a valuable investment to help Chiefs and local authorities get an impartial, independent opinion to confirm the current status of their Fire Service, what it needs, and help it plan to meet the growing number of challenges it faces in the future. We find that organizations can really benefit from re-thinking resource management and policy, often improving efficiency and cost effectiveness without any capital expense, which frees up funds for assets and recruitment.’
GES has offices in London and South America and last year (2020) opened their United States branch in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and look forward to working with Fire Chiefs and City Managers across the country. The decision to open in the US was driven by discussions with industry leaders who recognized the need and the value.
Without a unifying national doctrine and some Departments sometimes unaware of how their counterparts in other states, let alone other countries, operate, a review can help enhance what they do and also share some alternative global ideas at the same time.
As a former Fire Chief, Gannon says: ‘I know how stubborn and reluctant our industry can be to embrace change, or consider doing things differently, but a review can identify ways of delivering a fiscally efficient level of public service without compromising standards or safety.’
Using a systematic approach, the process assesses the organization and works hand in hand with managers to deliver a comprehensive report on its operational and administrative efficiency, grading standards from excellent, to any areas where things could be changed or improved.
The final report gives all stakeholders a comprehensive picture on the current status, along with short-, medium- and long-term recommendations.
GES have worked with National, County, Municipal, Volunteer, Aviation, Industrial and Corporate Fire and Rescue Services and depending on the size of the organization the initial review takes between 1 and 4 weeks to complete. Outcomes from their work have regularly included:
- Reduced operating costs
- Improved efficiency and effectiveness
- Better response times
- Enhanced public image
- Improved workplace environment
- Better Policy and Procedure
- Reduction in sickness and injury
- Improved Union / Management interface
- Better risk and resource management
So if you want an independent perspective on the status of your Fire Service and make your best even better, please reach out.