Process Development Recommendations
1. The USFA should make available a forum for discussing planning issues, and that forum should be marketed toward those who are or will be using the planning process. The forum could take a variety of forms, including electronic or face-to-face. In this instance, “forum” means a place where issues can be discussed and information exchanged. The “target audience” would include organizations and individuals–such as city managers, city planners, building officials, the IAFC, and the IAFF–with a vested interest in planning. At every ICMA conference, for example, there should be an NFA table where attendees could get updates on developments in the planning realm.
2. Harmonize the planning process with the IEMS and other FEMA programs. Integrate the planning processes with other programs delivered by the USFA, NFA, and EMI.
3. Encourage the inclusion of master planning knowledge and skills in the NFPA professional qualification documents.
4. Encourage compatibility with the IAFC accreditation process and the ICMA performance criteria. Coordinate data elements and measures with the IAFC, ICMA, and other existing programs. Include benchmarking data and demographics based on the nature of the fire problem, for sorting and retrieval. Compatibility, not integration, should be the goal. This suggestion differs from process recommendation number two in that this proposes coordinating the IAFC accreditation process and the ICMA criteria with the master planning process. Doing this will encourage the commitment of those two organizations. This recommendation does not imply a need to “re-create the wheel” and advises close consideration of the accreditation model as an example of the kind of compatibility being endorsed.
5. Encourage aggressive action to maintain local control of codes with minimum accepted standards. Be aware that the adoption of mini/maxi codes tends to act as a barrier to locally planned service levels and can erode master planning. Encourage localities to adopt minimum standards while maintaining the flexibility to respond to the unique local situation through local control of codes.
In his closing comments, Bathhurst noted that the USFA is not going to master-plan for every individual community but that it aims to provide communities with the technical guidance so that they can preplan their own master plans.