Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Managing the Implementation Team (Part 4)

This is Part 4 of a 6 part series collectively titled, McKinsey Method for Fire Protection Solutions. As you read keep in mind that these systems and processes can be applied to  fire protection organization and leadership, and to physical fire protection systems and components.





After a problem has been analyzed and a solution has been presented and accepted, the work of implementation begins. Implementing the problem solution requires the effective management of three components:
  1. The Team.
  2. The Client.
  3. The Individual.

The Team.
These are the people that you will be working together with to implement the problem solution. The manager has three responsibilities related to the team, he must assemble the right team members, he must keep them motivated to complete the task, and he must ensure their continued professional development.

Effective team management starts with recruiting, or assembling, the right people. To acquire the best talent for the team, the manager should start with a structured plan.  The plan should let the manager easily see what type of personality would fit best, what types of skills are needed, and what specific knowledge may be required. Using the plan, the manager can select those individuals that bring the strengths necessary to the project.  A team that is has all the same strengths and weaknesses will fail.  When assembling the team, maintaining the right mix or knowledge, skills, and abilities is critical.

McKinsey keeps its people motivated by spending time together and providing adequate rewards.  Motivation can be maintained by creating a familiar atmosphere to work in.  Create a workplace that people want to come to, a place where they feel like they contribute and are a part of something bigger.  Planned team events, bonding outings, can be effective also. The most effective of these are the more “impromptu” events that are put together by someone other than the “boss” or manager.  Provide rewards, above and beyond compensation, for the team members.  Rewards can include things like dinners and lunches paid for by the organization, and additional days, weekends, or time off. When the team members feel that the organization has taken notice of their work, appreciates their contribution, and acknowledges the existence of their personal and family life, they will be motivated to continue giving their best to the solution implementation team.

Team members want the organization to contribute to their professional development.  The effective team manager can accomplish this by setting clear expectations and providing regular and consistent evaluations. Clarity of expectations ensures that all the team members know what they are working for and how their work product and performance will be evaluated. This allows them to focus on areas of their profession that should be developed in order to meet and exceed the expectation.  Regular and consistent evaluations by the manager, let the team member know that he is on the right track, and his performance is meeting the expectation. At least, six month, evaluations are recommended.  This allows the manager to see what the employee has accomplished so far, and what professional goals and development benchmarks have been set for the next six months.

The Client.
This is who you work for. In the private sector this is the company or organization that is paying for the services. In the public sector, this is the community, municipality, and stakeholders.

Effective management of the client requires that they be informed, involved, and inspired. Communication is key. The client should always be “in the loop” and never be surprised by any changes or developments in the planned solution. The client wants to feel like they are involved and contributing to this project.  Let them be involved. Invite them to the meetings, assign them tasks that need to be done that they can do.  Utilize them as part of your team.  They need to stay inspired. The manager must continue to sell the solution throughout its implementation, so that the client stays focused on their desired outcome and keeps the big picture at the forefront of his mind.

The Individual.
Yourself. Individuals have a hard time providing a good work product when they are out of balance with their personal life. The manager cannot effectively manage the team, if his personal life feels like it is being mismanaged.

Often individuals search for work/life balance, however, the true ‘sweet spot’ is in the seamless integration and intertwining of work and life. A situation where the two exist and flow together. This work/life flow can be achieved through mentors, supporting one another, sharing the load, and effective time management. Maintaining work/life flow and avoiding “burn out” requires the individual to stay focused on the purpose, vision, and goals of the task at hand.





Monday, May 22, 2017

7 Habits of Highly Effective Fire Prevention Organizations





Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. -Aristotle

NFPA 1730, Standard on Organization and Deployment of Fire Prevention Inspection and Code Enforcement, Plan Review, Investigation, and Public Education Operations outlines essential functions and tasks of the fire prevention organization. The guidance of this standard provides the basis for the 7 habits of highly effective fire prevention organizations. For maximum effectiveness these habits must work together as an integrated fire prevention organizational system.


Highly effective fire prevention organizations:


  1. Know their community.
  2. Have a plan.
  3. Enforce the code.
  4. Are proactive with plan review and field inspections.
  5. Investigate fire incidents.
  6. Educate the public.
  7. Are adequately staffed.


1. They know their community.
Successful and effective fire prevention organizations know their community. They become intimately familiar with their communities demographics, economics, geographical features, fire experience, buildings, structures, and specific hazards.  This information is gained through the conduct of a Community Risk Assessment (CRA).


The CRA is conducted in 3 steps: information gathering, data analysis, and strategy development. The CRA compiles data from a variety of sources in order to provide a picture of the community and its fire and life safety history.  Through data analysis and evaluation specific risks that a community is exposed to can be identified. From this data collection and analysis process, a fire protection and life safety strategy can be formulated to reduce these risks.


2. They have a plan.
From the CRA process a fire and life safety strategy can be formulated. This strategy is referred to as a community risk reduction (CRR) plan. The CRR will be different for every community, however, common risk reduction elements include, existing building inspections, plan review, origin and cause investigations, and public education. Each of these tasks come with their own set of challenges. The amount of time and complexity alloted to these tasks will vary based on community needs.  


3. They enforce the code.
The most critical task of the fire prevention organization is the inspection and code enforcement of existing structures.  All structures within a community can be identified as high, moderate, or low risk, or critical infrastructure. High risk structures include healthcare, education, multi-family, detention, and assembly occupancies. Critical infrastructure can be defined as those systems, structures, or assets that are essential for the community to function.  This would include power plants, public safety, and water treatment facilities.  The higher the risk category the more frequent and extensive the inspections should be. Structures identified as high risk should be inspected at least annually, and those identified as critical infrastructure, even more frequently.


4. They are proactive with plan review and field inspections.
The plan review process can let a builder or property owner understand the feasibility and expected costs of their project. It also provides a preview of what the fire department can expect to be coming to their community.  The plan review process reveals site access, water supply, construction features, fire protection systems availability. Hazardous processes that take place within the structure, or hazardous materials stored on-site can be discovered in the plan review phase. Compliance with construction codes and installation standards is ensured through the field inspection activity.  Systems are tested for functionality and the structure and operational features are inspected throughout the process to culminate in the building owner receiving his final Certificate of Occupancy to signify that compliance standards have been met, and the building is safe for occupancy.


5. They investigate fire incidents.
Fire origin and cause investigations can detect product defects, determine fire cause trends, and prevent arson and related crimes. The data collected from the investigation process can play an important role in community risk reduction.  Origin and cause investigation can be a time consuming, and sometimes slow-moving, process. The investigation process includes on-scene time, research and data mining, interviews, report writing, and case preparation time.  For departments that are operating at minimum staffing levels the use of company officers can considerably decrease the workload of the fire investigator and other fire prevention personnel.


6. They educate the public.
By identifying root fire causes, and at-risk populations a public education agenda can be set. Whether the population is senior citizens, young children, a college town, or the workplace there is a multitude of existing programs that can be used to effectively educate and reduce risk. Behavior only changes with education.


7. They are adequately staffed.
By identifying the risks posed to a community, fire prevention functions activities can be prioritized, and staffing required to complete those tasks can be determined.  Using the program and organizational guidance provided in NFPA 1730 the case for staffing and budget requirements can be clearly presented.

Through the regular practice of these 7 habits, the fire prevention organization can function at a high level of of excellence while maintaining maximum effectiveness and efficiency.



Monday, May 15, 2017

No Post This Week


We have no blog post this week.  Enjoy reading some of our past posts.  We will be back with something new next week!

Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Arson Prevention at Houses of Worship

Today marks the start of the United States Fire Administration’s, National Arson Awareness Week.  The theme for 2017 is, “Arson Prevention at Houses of Worship”


Each year there is an average of 103 fires that affecting houses of worship.  The burning of a house of worship is a stressful event; it not only devastates the affected congregation, but wounds the entire community. Whether the motivation behind the arson is hate or reckless vandalism, a congregation views it as an attack on their beliefs and values.


Arson robs congregations of their valuable assets, lives and property. Arson destroys more than the buildings used as houses of worship; it can devastate a community, resulting in the decline of the neighborhood through increased insurance premiums, loss of business revenue, and a decrease in property values.
Houses of worship are particularly vulnerable to fire damage because they’re often unoccupied for long periods of time, and in many cases, in rural areas. Rural properties will generally sustain more severe damage – even with an accidental fire – since discovery and response time may be delayed.
Full resources and information for Arson Prevention in Houses of Worship can be found at, National Arson Awareness Week Resources 2017.

A real threat to houses of worship are those that exist from terrorism and terrorist activity. The Al-Qaidah publication, Rumiyah, Edition 5 outlines how to cause an incendiary attack.  The article outlines ways and means, and also provides a list of targets.  The below image and caption comes from the publication:

Caption reads: "1707 San Jacinto in Dallas, Texas - A popular Crusader gathering place waiting to be burned down"

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Fire Rated Areas in Hangars

Aircraft hangars are those structures, or portions of, that house aircraft for storage or servicing. Construction and fire protection requirements for these structures is outlined in NFPA 409, Standard on Aircraft Hangars. Hangars are unique structures housing high value goods. To prevent fire or minimize fire damage, and ensure the reliability of fire protection systems, proper fire-rated compartmentalization is critical.  


The table below outlines the required fire-rated areas, as required by NFPA 409.

Click to enlarge.

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