West Virginia fire department awarded software tool for community risk reduction

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ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WOWK) – The St. Albans Fire Department is teaming up with a national agency and departments from across the country to develop a new tool aimed at improving community safety.

Earlier this year the department was awarded a pilot tool aimed at community risk reduction, a process to help communities find out what their risks are and develop a plan to reduce the risks viewed as a high priority.

They will work with the National Fire Prevention Agency and 49 other departments to develop a program tailored for the Kanawha Valleys’ needs.

“The unique thing about this pilot tool is that, opposed to us using a program that’s designed by bigger cities for bigger cities and then trying to scale it down for our use, we can customize it to fit the demographics and the call volume and all the hazards we have in St. Albans,” says Lt. Chris Collins with SAFD.

The program will be implemented every day. It collects data like call volumes, census data, and hazards.

“It analyzes that data and it develops a risk matrix that we can then use to focus our prevention efforts on the pertinent risks not just for that time of year, but for that week or that month,” says Collins.

Earlier this month Collins traveled to Miami with dozens of other departments and the NFPA to learn about the software.

“We look at the graph and it shows us how many calls we ran on a certain month in this particular category. That helps us with manpower trending, and it also helps us focus our risk-reduction efforts on different times of the year,” says Collins.

Collins also adds that the data will allow them to focus their training efforts on calls and risks they are seeing most.

“We are always ready to respond to the next call, but we are also pretty focused and pretty intent on preventing that next call. it’s a lot easier to prevent something from happening than waiting until it happens and somebody is already hurt or killed.”

St. Albans expects to have its software dashboard set up by the end of January.

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