Bothell Fire and E.M.S. developing strategic plan with help from community

Strategic plan will help direct department’s focus for efforts and funding over the next 5-8 years

Bothell’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department recently received community suggestions, which will help staff create a strategic plan that will be presented to City Council at the beginning of next year.

Fire Chief Bruce Kroon organized an external stakeholder meeting earlier this month that invited Bothell community members and business owners to provide feedback on what the department should improve and focus on during the next several years.

“This project is going to set the groundwork for the internal stakeholders — our firefighters, administrators and battalion chiefs — to give us a road map, a vision of the future for the department,” he said.

Kroon contacted the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) and received help from Matt Keller and Brian Dean, CPSE contract facilitators, who led the external stakeholder meeting.

Attendees, who included community members and business owners, ranked which services they think the department should prioritize and provided expectations, concerns and positive feedback.

Internal stakeholders then reviewed this information and feedback before providing their own opinions over how the department should focus its efforts and funding over the next five to eight years.

“We (covered) just about everything that makes us a fire department,” Kroon said. “I’m hoping we can collectively come up with a vision of where we would like our department to be in five years.”

He and department staff created four to five goals that they’ve identified to fulfill their vision.

“We (talked) about how others view us and what our external stakeholders are looking for,” Kroon said. “We (considered) our mission, vision and values, (to) see if they need to be modified or updated, (and did) strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis of our organization to try and get a good idea of where we are and where we want to be.”

Keller and Dean are now using all of this information to help Kroon create a department strategic plan for the next five to eight years.

“Those decisions that the (internal stakeholders) will be making, that vision that the chief talked about earlier, are not about today,” Keller said. “Those decisions are about three to seven years down the road and they’ll be making those with (the community’s) input.”

The CPSE is a not-for-profit corporation that helps public safety agencies streamline and improve services to provide a higher quality of life for communities. Additionally, the organization provides the only accreditation program for fire service organizations in the world.

“We’ve done a lot of these across the country and Canada,” Keller said. “It really starts with the community. The first step to making a good, sound, quality strategic plan is reaching out to your community.”

Once Keller and Dean finish the final documents, Kroon will work with the city to implement the plan.

The strategic plan will outline how the department will operate in coming years. According to Kroon, the department hopes to improve on its weaknesses and expand on its strengths.

“It’s something we can’t do overnight…but it’s something we’re going to be definitely using,” Kroon said. “It’s not something we’re going to create and put on the bookshelf. This is something that I’m going to use with the firefighters to take to the City Council.”

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