NFPA 1300 defines Community Risk Reduction (CRR) as a process to identify and prioritize local risks, followed by the integrated and strategic investment of resources to reduce their occurrence and impact. In short, it’s a process to help communities identify their risks and develop a plan accordingly to reduce the risks viewed as high priority.

In regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk is of course the Coronavirus. CRR efforts have come front and center in communities across the nation as we address the community-wide implications of the virus in both the short and long-term.

Everyone has a role

 It’s not just local officials dictating CRR. Every single person and every single organization play a critical role in CRR. Local small businesses within a community can play an important role in community safety and prevention. And by doing so, the business supports the community and exhibits a sense of responsibility to its customers and community as a whole.

But what does this look like for local businesses? And what does it look like in the midst of a global pandemic?

NFPA identifies two categories of individuals essential for CRR: the stakeholders and the partners. The stakeholders are the decision makers like city planners and local officials. The partners are the people who agree to share resources to achieve the community goal as set by the stakeholders. This is where the small businesses play an important role. Maybe it’s donating resources, time, or expertise. Maybe it’s simply complying with the CRR plan and making that compliancy apparent to customers and the community, working as a sort of community advocate.

In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, some small businesses are being asked to close altogether. Some are being asked to change production of materials or donate materials necessary for fighting the Coronavirus. It’s going to look different based on your state, city, and individual community. And while some businesses are asked to make more significant sacrifices than others, CRR is all about a strategic investment of resources to reduce the impact of the virus in order to expedite recovery efforts and resume normal activity for everyone.

How your community develops a CRR plan

According to the NFPA, the very first step in developing an effective CRR plan is to conduct a Community Risk Assessment (CRA). A CRA is a comprehensive evaluation that identifies, prioritizes, and defines the risks that pertain to the overall community. It requires local data to help define characteristics of the community, such as its demographics, building stock, geographic landscape, and public safety response capabilities.

In a recent blog post on the NFPA website entitled, “Your Data Toolbox in the Age of COVID-19: Feeding your Community Risk Assessment,” the author makes an important point about the power of data. He points out: “Data help you tell a story about your demographics, economy, critical infrastructure and other profiles so you can make informed decisions to increase community safety during the pandemic.”

CRA involves a blend of both qualitative and quantitative data. This means that while actual hard data is critical, some information can only be provided by members of the community like small businesses. The purpose of the CRA is to offer CRR developers an understanding of the community’s risks, capabilities, and characteristics related to demographics, geography, economics, hazards, etc. The information must be very specific to a community as it relies on local data.

Developing a community framework

NFPA has created a “5 E’s approach” as a framework for CRR planning. These 5 E’s include Enforcement, Engineering, Education, Emergency Response, and Economic Incentive. This approach helps decision makers identify goals and objectives through a series of questions. The ultimate goal is to develop a set of clear objectives, identify key resources and partnerships, and develop integrated programs in support of reducing risks.

For small businesses, this might mean being asked to offer incentives or penalties to encourage safer behavior or rely on technological solutions to reduce risk. Small businesses can also learn a lot from the process of developing CRR Plans in creating one themselves. After all, your customers and employees make up your own unique community. Efforts to keep them safe will not go without notice and recognition.

It’s all about partnership

Effective CRR plans are rooted in partnerships. Stakeholders and partners must work together toward a common goal. Not only will it make for a more effective plan, it will also increase access to all members of the community in a way that would be challenging to achieve otherwise. Partners like small businesses can act as keys or access points to sects of a community.

For example, take a scenario presented in an article on how the CRR process can help identify, prioritize, and minimize the hazards of a community. The example given is as follows:

“In Spokane, Washington, the CRR leadership recognized the need to provide tailored educational programs to members of their Russian-speaking community. Jamie McIntyre, community risk reduction manager for the city’s fire department, worked with partners to get important fire safety literature translated into Russian. Rather than dropping the materials off to the residents, she connected with leaders of the faith community and housing providers and arranged to deliver direct education sessions with the help of interpreters. She leveraged the position of the community leaders to gain her audiences’ trust and used the church and community rooms at apartment complexes to deliver the sessions in comfortable environments. This partnership helps residents access resources and education through alternative means, reducing reliance on emergency services.”

This example may not apply to your small business or organization, but it’s a good example of how every community member plays a role in problem solving within a community. And this has never been more important than it is now

Fire Systems, Inc.

As a local small business that is both family-owned and family-operated, Fire Systems, Inc. has been a part of the Atlanta community for over 30 years. We have established relationships with fire marshals and those in the life and safety sector. Our goal is to keep our customers safe and compliant always and especially during these uncertain times. We will continue to work with local officials and Community Risk Reduction plans to provide your business with the best fire safety solutions available. As of now, requirements for local Atlanta businesses are consistent with NFPA requirements: maintain regular inspections of your fire protection systems. As we work to mitigate risk within our company and community as a whole, we will continue to be the only fire protection company you will ever need. That’s always been our promise. Call us today at 770-333-7979 or visit our website for more information on our services and our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.