Customer Centered Strategic Planning Process

The Wilkins Township Board of Commissioners hired Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI) to assist it and the leadership of its three volunteer fire companies with an evaluation of the township’s fire service and the development of a strategic plan for the future with a goal of maintaining volunteer fire services. Wilkins Township, incorporated in 1821, is a hilly community of 2.75 square miles with 6,357 residents as of the 2010 census, located 12 miles from downtown Pittsburgh. The community has both a commercial district and a small industrial base. While it is predominantly built-out, the township does have some opportunities for redevelopment.

Fire service is provided by three volunteer fire companies with a long history of dedicated service to the community. VFC #1, on Railroad Street off of Larimer Avenue has 20 active and 10 inactive members. VFC #3, located on Powell Street off of Greensburg Pike has 23 active members and 21 inactive members. And VFC #4, located on Frazier Drive off of William Penn highway has 16 active members and 7 inactive members.

Each company provides primary fire suppression and related services to the entire Wilkins Township community with mutual aid provided on request to areas of Allegheny County outside the township. The companies are dispatched by the Allegheny County Emergency Services Center and are all dispatched on any call within the township. The chief of each respective company determines the level of equipment and staffing needed within their response district (a portion of the township).

The goal of the strategic planning process is to assess and make recommendations on the following:
-Examine current fire service system for strengths and weaknesses focusing on fire prevention and suppression services taking into consideration current and future municipal infrastructure
-Provide short and long-range recommendations to improve fire protection focusing on:
• Facilities/station location and configuration
• Equipment
• Organizational Needs
• Long-term relationship between fire companies and the township
-Review existing volunteer recruitment and retention practices and recommend improvements designed to strengthen volunteer system

ESCI’s Customer Centered Strategic Planning methodology has been adopted and utilized by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and numerous other national, regional and state fire service agencies and associations, as well as hundreds of local fire departments across the United States and Canada. The CCSP process has proven very effective with all types and sizes of organizations, from large metropolitan fire departments to small, rural all volunteer fire departments, and everything in between. This process is being utilized in the development of the Wilkins Township fire service evaluation and strategic planning framework.

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