This model represents the mission of local fire departments and other fire protection agencies – to protect people property and the environment from a wide range of threats. Those threats include unfriendly fire, auto crashes, natural disasters, terrorism and other community risks.
The way we protect what we hold dear from these threats is to erect shields between the threats and what we seek to protect. These shields are organized in 3 categories – proactive methods, reactive methods and leadership and management methods.
Proactive methods are those actions we can take before an incident or accident happens to prevent the incident, soften (or mitigate) the impact or better prepare people to manage and survive the incident.
Reactive methods are those actions we take after an incident has happened and include responding, rescuing, suppressing and otherwise rendering aid to the people and protecting the property and environment affected by the threats.
Leadership and management methods are those actions we take to inform and inspire people as well as attract and organize resources to effectively apply proactive and reactive methods.
Each of our shields has capabilities (things it can do well) and limitations (things it can’t do well). The proactive methods shield can prevent and soften incident and help people develop the skills to avoid and survive. Activities such as fire prevention, code enforcement, public fire education and incident pre-planning all fall in to the proactive methods shield. But, despite the best proactive methods and activities, we cannot prevent all harmful incidents.
Reactive methods also have inherent capabilities and limitations. While we have to be ready to effectively respond to threats that have not been prevented, to rescue, protect and treat those affected, suppress the threat and restore a safe and healthy environment, sometimes we are too late (after people have been seriously injured or perished) or lack the resources to effectively handle incidents beyond our resources capability (such as conflagrations and severe large-scale disasters). The better we have prepared (proactively), the more effectively we’ll be able to react.
Effective leadership and management can contribute to our success by recruiting, developing, inspiring and organizing people who are critical to our mission, as well as obtaining the resources (money, apparatus, equipment, training & educational materials) and managing them effectively. But sometimes we don’t have enough people, enough time or enough resources to be successful in our mission.
To accomplish our fire protection mission, we need to employ all 3 shields effectively so they can balance and support each other. No amount of reactive capability will save lives if the fire department is notified after people are already dead. No amount of fire prevention education will stop a tornado. A dozen well trained and well-led firefighters will not be able to stop a city-wide conflagration.
Historically, the fire service was singularly focused on reacting to threats rather than proactively preventing and mitigating them, and relied solely on experience to develop leadership and management skills in their leaders. The fire service of today recognizes the need for all three shields to work together if we are to protect people, property and the environment from the various threats, and accomplish our mission.
Just as the Fire Service Mission Model tepresents local fire protection efforts, it also represents the SMCC Fire Science curriculum and course of study. The fire science department is committed to graduating students who are "occupation-ready" - with strong skills in all three areas of the model. Required and elective courses will help students learn the science of fire protection and risk management and develop state-of-the-art skills in proactive, reactive and leadership & management methods.
Our students also use the model to guide their development of skills. Our most successful graduates are those who have developed and applied knowledge, skills and attitudes in all 3 program areas, and have earned course credit, certifications and licenses to document their diverse skill-sets.
So the model really represents 3 missions: The local community/agency mission, the Fire Science mission, and our students’ mission – all with one central goal – to effectively and safely protect people, property and the environment from harm!