INTRODUCTIONThe fire department authority is guided by values that include the need to provide protection to people’s lives, their property and the entire environment. This can be achieved through ensuring the preparedness of the fire team, setting up a system of sustainable fire prevention methods, engaging the public together with other stakeholders and establishing an emergency response which ensure quality services. To this effect, the leaders of the fire department and other stakeholders need to be informed about the strategies in place, their implementation and the resource implications in matters concerning fire fighting.
Cooperation here is the key since most of the fire incidences are crime related and hence the need to bring other stakeholders on board in order to ensure an all round approach to the safety and the health of our community. BACK GROUNDAccording to Albinson (2004), arson acts occur due to several factors. One of the causal factors is the tendency of the youth to be disorderly and with a vandalism mentality. Criminal gangs are also known to engage in acts of arson as a way of revenge against their rivals or to conceal their criminal activities.
Psychological issues mainly associated with drug abuse may cause mental illness that leads to acts of arson. Even the seemingly sane members of the society, may engage in arson due to racism motivated reasons (White et al, 2000). With increased unemployment rates, poverty levels and other social vices, the levels of fighting crimes in our society is bound to be a challenge to all the players in the sector. This will call for extra resources both human and physical resources (Albinson, 2004).
The community is comprised of a diverse population which includes the youth, minorities who are immigrants and other groups such as the Indian community, which has the culture of avoiding interaction with the rest of the people. In the same population there are many students from the local university, a group which mainly consists of youthful people. With such a diverse population which is seemingly struggling to make ends meet, tensions are bound to exist increasing the risk for acts of arson. The risk of arson is also high due to the competition for the existing resources (Averill, 2010). Apart from the diverse population, the budget crisis experienced by the fire department also makes it hard to combat arson acts (Albinson, 2004).
In our case, the prolonged economic recession forced the decision to cut the resources for the fire department. The little funds that we receive are meant to cover Emergency Medical Services, natural disasters, acts of terrorism, incidences of hazardous materials in the environment among other emergencies. Incidences in all these categories have been on the rise with no substantial increase in the money allocated to the fire department.
COMMUNITY RISK ASSESSMENTThe traditional focus when dealing with arson fires, has been the identification of fire hazards followed by the appointment of a good suppression force to help mitigate the emergency. Lentini (2006) states that, the new practices call for the fire department to go beyond the fire problem to other related problems such as medical emergencies and criminal issues. In each community, the fire events will manifest in different manners and have different effects since all communities are faced with different risks.
This means that we cannot have a blanket approach to all fire and arson incidences, but we need to develop strategies that are tailor made to the needs of our particular community. Acts of arson lead to injuries and loss of human lives, economic losses, psychological effects and disruption of continuity of services in the community (Averill, 2010).