What is Community Risk Reduction (CRR)?

CRR is an innovative concept that NC fire departments have been involved in for many years. Prevention initiatives, such as Child Passenger Safety, Operation Medicine Drop and Smoke Alarm Canvassing are all CRR programs. When creating a new CRR plan in your community, it is important to note that there is not a "one plan fits all solution," since NC communities consist of a varied range of urban and rural areas. CRR plans designed for larger cities may not work in smaller communities. Therefore, every CRR plan is unique to each fire department based on the types of risks for a specific community.

The six-step approach towards developing a CRR program involves many partners to better protect residents and firefighters in the community. CRR builds community equity, which is the result of an ongoing, positive relationship with the community and at the same time reduces the risks affecting the community.

Steps of a Successful CRR Program

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Complete an assessment of your community by identifying and documenting potential risks and the demographics of your community.  Examples of risks include fires, overdoses, car crashes, falls, burns, etc. Information can be obtained from your call volume, hospital and/or incident reports. The demographics of your community plays a vital role in your assessment. They can tell you the total population, ages of your residents and can locate high risk areas. This information can be obtained from schools, Chamber of Commerce, Census Reports, or USA.com.

In order to prioritize risks in your community, analyze the risks and demographics determined in Step 1. When prioritizing risks, think about the severity and frequency of the incident in your area, call volume, the impact it has on the community, how easy or hard it will be to correct, and who is being affected by each risk. List your risks in order of highest priority.  

Step three of the process may require difficult decisions being made in order too determine strategies that will be used to reduce or mitigate risks with the highest priority. Using a combination of the "Five E’s," can prevent incidents from occurring, and when prevention fails, can reduce or mitigate the impact of an event.


Education applies by increasing awareness and providing information and knowledge to the public. Examples: school programs, brochures, social media, presentations.


Engineering applies to changes in the physical environment, such as modifying or creating a product. Examples: smoke alarms, child seats, smart burners, seat belts, fire sprinklers, bike helmets. 


Enforcement applies to reducing risks (hazards) through the legislative process of strengthening and adoption of applicable laws. Examples:  building codes, mandatory smoke alarm installations, seat belt and child passenger safety laws.

Economic Incentives 

Economic Incentives applies to the ability to influence people to make certain choices or behave in specific ways. Positive incentives can reward while negative incentives can take away. Examples: Positive - free smoke alarms, discounts, free medicine lock boxes, reduction in insurance rates. Negative - Fines, citations, tickets 

Emergency Response 

Emergency Response applies to fire departments, EMS providers, law enforcement agencies, etc. and their emergency response to a risk in their community. Examples: trained personnel, sufficient equipment, and adequate response times.

The CRR plan should be a written plan, but does not have to be complicated or complex. When creating the plan, follow these guidelines:

  • determine what’s already being done in order to ensure there is no duplication of efforts; 
  • determine how much time it will take to complete;
  • use SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-limited;
  • determine the expected outcome of the efforts.

Implementation of the CRR plan requires participation from all community partners. This is the time to identify and allocate needed resources, prepare a timeline with milestones, assign responsibilities, communicate goals and expectations, monitor progress and make adjustments as needed.

Once the CRR plan has been implemented, it’s time to monitor the progress, evaluate and modify efforts. This can be a long process that takes months or years to complete. When evaluating the effort, check the process to determine how well is it working.  Look to see if efforts put in place had an impact and if they changed behavior, environment or lifestyle. Lastly, evaluate the outcome and whether or not the plan decreased the risk long-term.

Community Risk Reduction Resources

May 27, 2015

Vision 20/20 Community Risk Reduction 2015

September 24, 2015

Vision 20/20 Fire Safety Materials Generator

This page was last modified on 09/01/2022