ORGANIZING YOUR PROGRAM
Once you’ve identified the high-risk homes and potential partners, set goals for your program. Public health experts recommend framing these as SMART Goals, meaning they are:
- Specific: avoids broad statements (tells who, what, when, where, how)
- Measurable: Identifies when target is reached
- Action-Oriented: specifies what must be done
- Realistic: is challenging but not unrealistic
- Time-Oriented: imposes deadline requirements
An example of a SMART goal for a home safety visit goal might be: To reduce deaths and injuries from home fires in [your jurisdiction,] 1,000 smoke alarms will be installed between [date to date] by local teams including firefighter cadets.
OUR PROGRAM GOALS
- Conduct and publicize home visits for a small number of high-risk homes, to encourage other residents to participate.
- Visit all high-risk homes in the target community over X period of time.
- Conduct home visits for the whole community over a longer time period: X years.
- Attract additional community organizations as program partners.
- Conduct publicity and measure reach through number of media stories placed and who they reached.
- Increase the number of line firefighters who are involved.
- Create and fund a budget to sustain Community Risk Reduction (CRR) programs.
Your department will need to determine the scope of your home visit program and the areas you will focus on, such as: install smoke alarms, discuss planning or conduct a home fire drill, identify and if possible correct fire and other hazards found in the home. Depending on your community risk assessment, this might include issues beyond fire safety, such as the prevention of older adult falls. These decisions will impact the estimated time for each visit.
An effective home safety visit is not something that just happens, it is something that is well thought out and planned. You will want to train and prepare the individuals who will represent your department in conducting these visits. Jump to the section on training.
Plan to work in teams of at least two people for each home visit. Typically, one person installs the alarms while the other talks with residents about how to prevent home fires, maintain their alarms, and plan and practice a home fire drill. One member of the team also records the data needed for evaluation. Gwinnett County Fire & Emergency Services utilizes at least three team members on each home visit. One person installs the alarms needed, one educates the residents, answers their questions (sometimes through a translator) and acts as a “scribe” to collect the data necessary for evaluation. The third team member (one or more) acts as a “scout” (with the resident’s permission) to identify fire and other hazards that are of greatest concern. Having a larger team reduces the amount of time needed to complete the visit, and ensures the most important risks are identified and either addressed at that time or fully discussed so the resident knows what to do to correct the problem.
Careful documentation is key. You will want to put a unique identifier such as a sticker on each smoke alarm installed in case of a future recall, investigation, etc. Track inventory carefully, distributing your smoke alarms and alert devices to the home visit teams in smaller batches and providing additional alarms only when you receive completed records on those installed.