Flying home from back-to-back fire service conferences, I’m reflecting on the remarkable audiences I had the opportunity to interact with. At the Ohio State Fire Chiefs’ Association conference, we spent a full day with 36 VERY engaged fire chiefs. The morning session was dedicated to recent changes to ISO’s FSRS schedule.
During the afternoon, I walked through some of my observations and recommendations on how to take advantage of data and analytics to improve the fire service. One of the more popular topics of discussion was regarding the notion of using NFIRS data (own, peer, state, and national averages) to inform staffing and training schedules. As expected, a number of chiefs were also interested in the concept of finding comparable peers — a challenge facing virtually all departments.
The second conference I attended was for the National Association of State Fire Marshals. It was an honor to be in the same room with 34 state fire marshals learning and sharing best practices. For me, the highlight of the first day was the keynote speech from Timothy Sendelbach, editor in chief of FireRescue magazine. He was one of the best speakers I’ve had the chance to hear. He challenged the room full of fire service leaders to create the “ripple effect” to drive change — especially with regard to prevention. His plea to our state leaders was to make prevention sexier than the site of horrific fires and soot-covered firefighters. On day 2, Texas State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy shared best practices for managing a large-scale fire through an emotional walk-through of the devastating explosion at the West, Texas, fertilizer plant.
These experiences will be hard to top from the confines of my Jersey City office!