Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The importance of scientific research

At the National Fire Protection Association Conference, I attended a presentation about a study that is being funded by the FIRE Act grant program and is focused on firefighter staffing levels. The preliminary findings were presented and, for the fire service people in the room, the results were a blinding flash of the obvious. A firefighting crew of three can accomplish more than a crew of two; a crew of four can accomplish more than a crew of three; and, you guessed it - a crew of five can accomplish more than a crew of four. Now why (you might be thinking) would we use FIRE Act grant money to fund research that tells us what we already know?

Studies like these are absolutely essential research. They're not designed to convince firefighters and fire chiefs that staffing levels impact quality of service. These studies are designed to prove to elected officials, who for the most part, do not understand or appreciate how important it is to get tasks accomplished quickly and safely at emergency scenes. Studies like these provide the evidence to back up the statements made by fire service leaders... so it's FACT and not OPINION.

Hat's off to the researchers and the sponsoring agencies, which includes the International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Firefighters, National Institute of Standards & Technology, National Fire Protection Association, the United States Fire Administration and more.

Richard B. Gasaway, PhD, EFO, CFO

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