Imagine a community where the risk of fires has been significantly reduced. Citizens are educated on fire safety, and emergency response teams are prepared for any situation.
This is the ultimate goal of Community Risk Reduction (CRR) efforts. However, as budgets tighten and resources become scarce, many fire departments and fire marshals are struggling to make their CRR programs more cost-effective.
To simplify this effort, let’s consider some practical strategies that can help you maximize your CRR efforts without breaking the bank.
7 ways to make CRR more cost effective
1. Implement cost recovery mechanisms
Explore options for cost recovery to offset expenses related to CRR efforts. Some jurisdictions allow fire departments to charge fees for services, such as fire inspections, plan reviews, or special event permits.
These fees can help generate revenue to fund CRR initiatives while ensuring that those benefiting from the services contribute to their cost. Establish a transparent and fair fee structure, and communicate the rationale behind the fees to maintain community support and trust.
2. Collaborate with stakeholders
Build partnerships with local businesses, community organizations, and other government agencies to pool resources and expertise. This collaborative approach can help maximize the impact of your CRR efforts while reducing costs. Departments and fire marshals that improve collaboration tend to notice some important advantages:
Better use of resources
By partnering with local businesses, community organizations, and other government agencies, fire departments can share resources such as equipment, training materials, and facilities. Partnering with a local construction company gives access to specialized equipment, such as aerial lifts or excavation tools, for specific CRR activities like removing hazardous materials or installing fire safety equipment in hard-to-reach areas.
The construction company benefits from the fire department's safety training and expertise, while the fire department gains access to equipment without the need to purchase or maintain it.
Better access to expertise
Collaborative partnerships enable knowledge sharing among stakeholders. Fire departments can collaborate with local schools or educational institutions to develop fire safety education programs for students.
Teachers can contribute their knowledge of effective teaching methods and age-appropriate curriculum design, while fire personnel provide their expertise in fire safety and prevention. This partnership enables the creation of a more effective fire safety education program at a lower cost.
Working together allows stakeholders to coordinate their CRR efforts, which can reduce duplication of department work and improve overall efficiency. For instance, a fire department can work with the local health department to coordinate home safety inspections that address both fire safety and public health concerns.
By jointly inspecting homes for fire hazards and health risks, such as mold or lead contamination, the two agencies can streamline their efforts and reduce the overall cost and time spent on separate inspections.
3. Seek grants and funding
Explore potential grant opportunities or funding sources, such as federal, state, or local programs, to supplement your budget. Many grants are available for fire prevention, public education, and training initiatives. With increasing wildfire risk, states like California offer plenty of grants and funding alternatives.
4. Utilize volunteers
Engage and train community members as volunteers to assist in delivering CRR programs. Volunteers can help with public education, home safety inspections, smoke alarm installations, and other activities.
5. Offer training and education
Develop and provide training and educational programs for firefighters, community members, and other stakeholders. These programs can cover fire prevention, emergency preparedness, and other relevant topics. Utilize free or low-cost resources, such as the online courses or materials from organizations like the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
6. Share best practices
Don’t reinvent the wheel: sometimes departments will have already figured out better ways to improve public safety without breaking the bank. Collaborate with neighboring fire departments or fire marshals to share information, resources, and best practices. Learning from others' experiences can help you optimize your CRR efforts while avoiding costly mistakes they might have made previously.
You can take this a step further by organizing joint training programs. This involves partnering with neighboring fire departments or emergency management agencies to conduct joint training exercises simulating large-scale emergencies or disasters.
This collaboration allows participating organizations to share the costs associated with organizing, planning, and executing the training exercises, such as facility rental, equipment use, and instructor fees. The joint training also promotes inter-agency cooperation and communication, which can be critical during real emergencies.
7. Use affordable software for public safety
Software solutions for Community Risk Reduction (CRR) have a reputation for being expensive. This is a widespread belief among fire agencies because, frankly, it’s often true. Powerful software was traditionally meant only for big players with massive budgets, but these days that’s no longer the case.
Still, many myths persist about software costs, and many public safety leaders won’t even consider the option. CRR requires directing resources to reduce local safety risks, so it doesn’t help when resources are stretched thin.
So rather than letting these misconceptions deter you from exploring helpful solutions like 3DI Engage for Community Risk Reduction to enhance your CRR program, let’s debunk some common myths.
Common pricing myths about software solutions for public safety
High upfront costs
Many fire agencies may assume that software solutions come with a high initial price tag, making it difficult for them to justify the investment, especially when working with limited budgets.
While this is still true for many solutions, 3Di Engage is different:
- 3Di Engage is a cloud platform solution, so it allows you to avoid many of the up-front hardware costs typical of traditional on-premise software.
- It uses a subscription model rather than an upfront purchase cost, reducing the financial risk associated with software purchases.
- By choosing only the modules you need with 3Di’s flexible platform approach, you don’t get stuck paying for features you won’t use.
Expensive ongoing fees
Another common preconception is that software solutions require costly and unpredictable ongoing fees, such as maintenance, support, or subscription charges, adding a financial burden to already tight budgets.
Since the 3Di Engage platform is assembled to suit your CRR and financial needs, the ongoing fees are incredibly accessible, even for smaller agencies.
This sounds hard to believe, so what makes 3Di Engage so affordable?
- Lower development costs: 3Di uses “solution accelerators,” meaning we use prebuilt configurations or modules of tools, which can then be quickly customized for each agency’s needs. It’s sort of like building a house for you when the foundation and frame are already built.
- Support is included: with Genie Support provided as part of your subscription, your pricing is much more predictable and stable.
- Cost is based on use, not users: where many software companies charge a “per-seat” licensing fee, charging you more with each additional user – we don’t think that makes sense. Instead, we charge based on how much the software gets used, so pricing doesn’t automatically grow when more people want to use the platform.
Complexity and training costs
Fire agencies often think that implementing new software solutions will require extensive training for personnel, adding to the overall cost and causing potential disruptions to daily operations.
3Di Engage is built to be intuitive and user friendly, so it’s easy to learn. Plus, training is included in the subscription cost, so it continues over time — even when you add new staff or want to add new features.
Limited return on investment
Some agencies may be skeptical about the actual return on investment (ROI) that software solutions can offer, doubting whether the benefits will outweigh the costs in the long run. Since 3Di Engage enables you to track and understand the data you work with, you can easily track your cost savings, from significantly reduced labor costs to the downward trends in annual property damage.
Vendor lock-in, obsolescence and upgrade costs
Fire agencies may be concerned about becoming dependent on a single software vendor, fearing that they will be locked into expensive contracts or face difficulties transitioning to a different solution in the future. There may also be concerns about your software becoming outdated quickly, requiring costly upgrades or replacements in a short time frame.
Aside from giving you easy access to your data, we aim to eliminate this issue entirely by “future-proofing” 3Di Engage:
- You can add custom tools as part of your included monthly support (“Genie Hours”), which also include training for new employees, troubleshooting, assistance with tasks, or requests like new custom reports.
- Since 3Di Engage is a platform that supports countless tools, you can add new custom features as needed, without worrying about forking over hefty development fees.
- We update the platform regularly on our end, which then updates the software for all of our clients globally, without any action required on your part. This avoids the software becoming obsolete, so you don’t have to worry about bringing someone in to upgrade your systems.
Fire agencies might worry that new software solutions will be difficult to integrate with their existing systems, leading to additional costs and potential compatibility issues. With a deep pool of prebuilt integrations, 3Di Engage comes ready to work with the software you’re already using. And if you happen to find something there isn’t an integration for? We’ll build one.
With easy adoption and pricing based on use instead of users, 3Di Engage gives you advanced software to fit your budget, with the flexibility to only pay for the features that best fit your needs.
Even then, we recognize that some departments or agencies simply don’t have the funding to prioritize a software upgrade. With that in mind, how can you make better use of your budget for community risk reduction?
How Ohio upgraded their community risk reduction program
Want to see how to transform your Community Risk Reduction efforts without breaking the bank? Discover how software can make a difference in a fire agency’s CRR program.
Download the case study to see how we helped the Ohio State Fire Marshal manage and enforce the Ohio State fire code with a custom platform solution, including managing inspections for over 5,000 facilities