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Peoria Fire Department chosen for 'community risk management' program

Peoria Public Radio

Fire engineering organization Vision 20/20 chose the Peoria Fire Department for a program assessing fire risk and developing a risk reduction plan for the community.

Nate Rice, Peoria Fire Department division chief of Fire Prevention, said the department was chosen from a pool of more than 100 applicants. The program provides material support, training and recommendations.

Rice said representatives from Vision 20/20 are set to visit in late October.

“They're going to come in and look at all of our data, all of our reporting data for all of our incidents, fire, medical, basically,” Rice said. “And they're going to analyze that data and interpret that data. So they're going to spend a part of the time while they're here, just looking at our numbers.”

After the data, the experts will perform a community risk assessment. Rice offered building inspections as an example of one of the risks to be assessed.

"Our downtown and our warehouse district, you know, have bigger buildings, older buildings, as compared to residential areas on the north end of the city,” Rice said. “Newer homes don't necessarily pose the same risk, right? So it's things like that, where we prioritize these areas, and we say: ‘Okay, now let's focus on the areas that we've prioritized, that we know are higher risk.’”

Rice said the department will likely focus on areas like raising community awareness, building outreach programs and creating a document establishing a risk reduction plan. There’s no way to say for sure exactly how long it will take to start implementing Vision 20/20’s recommendations. They could be long-term or short-term solutions.

"Things that we can make happen within six months, we will definitely pursue those things,” he said. “Maybe it might be a year-long project, maybe it's something that takes a little bit of time to develop.”

With 180 personnel and 12 fire stations, the department responds to over 20,000 individual incidents every year. Rice said any effort to reduce risk and raise awareness makes their job easier.

“That's basically what this is: it's fresh eyes,” he said. “It's a different perspective that maybe we haven't seen before.”

You can find more information about Vision 20/20’s members and mission on their website here.

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Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.