A data-driven approach to firefighting

Name: Reginald Freeman

Title: Fire Chief and Emergency Manager

City: Hartford, Conn.

The Fire Department in Hartford has always been good at extinguishing fires — “putting the wet stuff on the red stuff,” as Chief Reginald Freeman puts it. But when Freeman took over in 2016, he wanted the department to up its game in other areas.

He started a new performance management system, FireStat, to assemble data scorecards on things like emergency response time and how long fire trucks were out on runs. At monthly meetings, senior leadership from each division report out on trends in the data and discuss what they’re doing to improve. “By looking at the data on a regular basis and talking about it, we’re making sure that everyone is not just meeting expectations, but exceeding them,” Freeman said.

And the benefits are clear: Since implementing FireStat, the city has seen an encouraging drop in response times, a decrease in firefighter injuries, and an increase in the percentage of property saved during incidents. Other cities are taking notice: Freeman and his team have traveled to New Haven, Conn., and Trenton, N.J., to help them develop their own versions of the program. Last year, Freeman was one of 80 senior city leaders from across the U.S. and around the world to participate in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative.

“Remember the ‘Five P’s:’ Proper preparation prevents poor performance.”

Celebrating public sector progress and innovation in cities around the world. Run by @BloombergDotOrg’s Government Innovation program. bloombergcities.org

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