EDMOND — Edmond firefighters are spending this week writing a five-year strategic plan, a process designed to drive fire service operations and provide a future course for the department.
Fewer than 10 percent of fire departments have a strategic plan, and not all of them do anything with the document once it is written, said facilitator Brian Dean, technical adviser for the Center for Public Safety Excellence.
This is the first time Edmond firefighters have created a five-year strategic plan.
“This is a big step for us to start the strategic planning process,” said Edmond's new fire chief, Jake Rhoades, who has been here just more than two months. “This is critical for us as we move forward as an organization to ensure that we are meeting the needs and the risks, both identified and unidentified, of the community as a whole.”
Rhoades said he has been talking about a strategic plan since his first day with the department.
The process started Monday when city officials, community leaders, business owners, medical staff and neighboring firefighters were invited to share their expectations, concerns and what they see as the strengths of the local department.
More than 50 people, called community stakeholders, were asked to rank the importance of fire suppression, prevention, safety education investigations, technical rescue, hazardous materials mitigation, emergency medical services and domestic preparedness planning and response.
Their opinions were turned over to a group of 36 firefighters, who will spend three days this week creating a plan that Rhoades said he will not put on the shelf and forget about it.
“The 36 firefighters were chosen from all ranks in the department,” Rhoades said. “It is a diverse group that was selected by the command staff.”
A goal of the new chief is to get the department accredited. A strategic plan is part of the process. But Rhoades said accreditation is not the reason behind him wanting a strategic plan.
Throughout the process this week, Dean said, they will answer five basic questions:
• Why do we exist?
• Where are we now?
• Where do we want to be?
• How do we get there?
• How do we measure our progress?
“As with any session such as this, I hope to hear all of the good things that we are doing,” Rhoades said. “I expect to hear deficiencies, as well, that will be addressed through simple communication to ensure that the community knows why we operate the way we do, as well as through the strategic planning process.”
The Center for Public Safety Excellence was selected to help with the project because its focus is on community-driven strategic planning.
The city is paying $14,500 for the strategic plan.
“I am very supportive of his efforts,” City Manager Larry Stevens said. “It is a significant step forward for the fire department, and a good example for our organization.”