I regularly talk with 2 different types of fire departments.And their stories are dramatically different.
The story of fire department #1This fire department is all about fighting fires. All they talk about is the operations of the department, what kind of fires they fight, what kind of trucks they have, the training they have, and what kind of service territory they have.
They don't think much or have anyone that works on the business end of operating a fire department. They don't think that is much fun and don't try to get or develop the expertise in this area.
They don't have a budget. They run some fundraisers, beg for money from their local government, and check to see how they are financially doing by looking at their bank balances.
They are tactical in nature and don't really have a long-term strategy.
The story of fire department #2This fire department takes a more broad view of operating their department. They understand the importance of being able to fight fires. They train and buy equipment just like the first fire department.
But they also focus on the business aspects of running an organization. They set a budget each year. They know what it costs to have a fire department they want. They manage their financial results by comparing themselves against the budget - are we spending more or less?
They have a long-term strategy. They know when they plan on replacing trucks and have conversations and discussions with their stakeholders about adequate funding. They can show them what it costs to run a modern and safe fire department.
SummaryI am not trying to blame anyone for their fire department. I want to tell people what is possible, what is the best practice, and to have a fire department that serves its community well.
Over the next few weeks, we'll share some other differences between these two fire departments.
John R. Hill