Unless you are living under a rock, you know we are experiencing tough times. High energy costs, home foreclosures, corporate and financial industry failures, stock market downturns... it all seems like bad news. But in this bad news, there may be opportunity.
As cities begin to feel the strain of these difficult economic times, so will the fire department. For example, I believe many fire departments will be asked to take budget cuts, to reduce staffing, to cut services, downsize training, and more.
When this happens, you will be at a crossroads. You can go down the path of slash and burn, painful cuts and reduced service. Or, alternatively, you can look for new and creative ways to ensure your customer continues to get great service.
Look at the way you provide services. Do you send a full response assignment to every alarm drop? Maybe you don't have to do that. Do you bring every member in from home for every call for service? Maybe you don't have to do that. Is your department surrounded by other communities who duplicates every service you provide? Maybe it's time to strike up some regional cooperation. Or... dare I say it... mergers and consolidations. When you eliminate the duplication of services, money is saved. Money that can be put toward ensuring the residents receive the same, or improved levels of care during difficult economic times.
These challenging economic times are going to require changes in the way you do business. Do you want to be pushed and forced to change? Or do you want to be proactive and a leader of change? The time to decide is now... because the forces of change are already set in motion.
Richard B. Gasaway, PhD, EFO, CFO