Challenge 5: Organizational Structure, Strategic and Financial Planning
Fire protection in North America is typically provided by a city or special district and in some cases the township, county, state or tribal government. In some communities it is provided by a private organization. There often are political bodies (authority having jurisdiction) who set the level of service and authorize the expenditure of funds generated by the community.
The current fire and EMS service delivery model, bylaws and rules can be perceived as outdated and entrenched in traditions that obstruct efficiencies and provision of professional services. This is illustrated by the lack of cooperation and regionalization in some areas. Many communities lack the ability to compel emergency service organizations (ESOs) to cooperate and share resources, which place the community at greater risk and costs more to operate. In some parts of the country, ESOs over-saturate the response area, while in others, resources are scarce.
A number of ESOs struggle with developing and implementing strategic plans consistent with the economic realities and needs of their communities. Often they lack understanding of need, value and benefit of using a sustainable and flexible business model as part of their planning processes. This makes it difficult for organizations to secure the predictable sources of funding necessary to ensure the effective delivery of emergency services. Because many communities are dependent on the expertise of their emergency service leaders to navigate this critical and complex challenge, it is imperative these leaders be trained in business model practices.