SWOT Phase of Fire and Rescue Reform Process Complete

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Provided by Prince William County

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The Fire and Rescue SWOT Analysis is finished and the results are on the way to the Fire and Rescue System Reform Committee for review. A SWOT analysis is a tool to examine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats an organization faces.

In January, the Board Of County Supervisors directed county staff to work with the Fire and Rescue Association (FRA) to ascertain whether the current framework of the fire and rescue system in the County is the best alternative for supporting the volunteer companies and fostering the collaboration necessary to provide the level of fire and rescue services required by the community and the region. The Board directive came after two volunteer fire companies were merged into the Prince William Department of Fire and Rescue due to their inability to maintain the level of service contracted by the Board.

The SWOT analysis was conducted as part of the reform process in order to examine how the county can provide effective fire and rescue service while maintaining the current combination system with career and volunteer members while meeting the needs of the community.

Hundreds of people attended the eight SWOT meetings, held at Buckhall Volunteer Fire Department, where they identified and then ranked the elements of the analysis. People identified categories in each SWOT element by writing their concerns, thoughts and ideas on sticky notes. At the end of each of the identifying sessions, people put the sticky notes on the walls for the group to see. Ranking the top identified items occurred during subsequent meetings with people voting on the most important issues facing the current fire and rescue system.

The results of the SWOT analysis include:

  • More than 500 comments about the strengths of the current fire and rescue system were collected, with the top ranked being professional volunteers, funding and leadership.
  • Participants contributed 1884 comments regarding the weaknesses of the current system, with the top ranked being staffing, executive committee/quorum and communications/relationships.
  • Participants contributed 437 comments about the opportunities within the current system, with the top ranked being Chapter 9.1 – the section of the county code governing fire and rescue service, cross staffing and leadership/accountability.
  • Participants contributed 1064 comments regarding threats to the current system, with the top ranked being the FRA Chairman, the FRA Chair Finance Committee, the Prince William Fire and Rescue Training Academy and staffing.

During the final SWOT meeting, Acting County Executive Chris Martino thanked people for participating in the process. “I really appreciate everyone staying engaged through these many, many weeks.”

Martino said that the reform committee would analyze the results and report back to the FRA and Board of County Supervisors, probably in the fall of this year. “We’ll be looking at those things that this process has identified and how we can then take it to the next phase.”

The Fire and Rescue System Reform Committee includes Acting County Executive Chris Martino, Prince William Department of Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin McGee, Prince William Department of Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Tim Keen, Prince William Department of Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Jim Forgo, Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department Chief James McAllister, Dale City Volunteer Fire Department Chief Chris Hool and Yorkshire Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jerry Deem.

The SWOT analysis was the introduction to the phase of data collection designed to get maximum input from all members of the FRA, career personnel, volunteers and the public. As more data is gathered as part of the reform process, it will be posted at pwcgov.org/FireService.


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