How to Justify Your Fire Budget When Seeking Government Aid

type 6 ocfa Institutions like well-funded schools and effective law enforcement are often a gauge for the value and health of any community. They attract business that is essential for growth and stability. For many communities, the public coffers are limited and desperate, forcing these public institutions to compete for dollars in any way they can. They’re using advanced metrics to justify their budgets while committees use these metrics to judge the institution’s value to the community. Throw in other concerns, such as real estate values and insurance premiums, and you can have a very complex system to measure the effectiveness and value of what one organization brings to the community. Fire departments are no exception. Unlike other institutions, however, their role in the community has evolved as responsibilities expand despite reductions in personnel, equipment, and overall budget. Law enforcement (as well as fire and EMS) may have to contend with the rising costs of training and preparation in case of terrorism and mass casualty incidents, but those still fall within the framework of public safety. Fire companies, while still dealing with public safety, have seen their community involvement spill over into public health as well. The rise of EMS response for firefighters has skyrocketed, which significantly increases the need for training. That’s just one small example of what fire departments have to contend with when it comes to their budget allocation and how to use it effectively.

Determine Property Loss within Your Jurisdiction

Fire departments have long been issued an ISO rating, which measures the effectiveness of their response in a community. The organization that determines this rating (a for-profit organization), the Insurance Service Office, sells the information to insurance carriers. This ISO rating helps determine a homeowner’s insurance premium. However, many states and insurance companies are placing less value on this rating, some completely abandoning it in their determinations. In its place, they consider the actual loss within a zip code. The mindset of property saved versus property lost is coming to the forefront. Fire departments that haven’t already done so should look to present their budget needs from a new perspective, not of what they need in order to achieve a standard or maintain the status quo of acceptable accreditation, but rather to prove the amount of economic loss that would be suffered if they weren’t there to respond. Economic drivers for any community would be comforted if their emergency services could provide quantifiable evidence that they prevent significant economic damage. Local governments would be more inclined to expand budgets if they viewed them as investments so that their FD can effectively respond to the rise of emergencies as our population ages and expands. In practical terms, hardly anyone plans or budgets for the emergency. However, when people or organizations are presented with a way to improve quality of life and attract investment, they tend to perk up. Fire departments have an assortment of tools they can muster to justify their existence (a bit cynical… we know), but also to prove they’re a viable investment strategy to attract and secure business development.


For over 25 years, Boise Mobile Equipment has served our nation’s fire fighters by engineering state-of-the-art fire engines. The safety of our nation’s firefighters is our number one priority, so BME fire apparatus are built to protect fire crews by shielding them from the lethal elements they encounter when battling fires. Our fire trucks are engineered for rugged off-road terrain, built with reinforced TIG-welded aluminum tubular bodies and are tilt-tested to withstand horizontal grades of more than 32 degrees. BME fire trucks are trusted by fire service organizations like CAL FIRE and the USDA Forest Service, as well as numerous municipal fire departments across the country. In fact, many of our apparatus were used to help battle the recent ‘mega fires’ in CaliforniaMontana, Oregon and Idaho. Our engineers and mechanics are highly trained, allowing them to manufacture custom vehicles built to any specs. We understand that one size does not fit all in the fire industry, as every department and organization needs different equipment to do its job. That’s why we are known for our ‘built-to-spec’ manufacturing process. Rather than the traditional ‘cookie cutter’ manufacturing process where each truck is built the same and additional specs are charged as add-ons, BME builds each of its vehicles custom to every department’s specific needs. BME’s recent contracts with Forest Service and CAL FIRE allow for tag-on’s that could make the purchase of your new apparatus faster, easier and far less costly.  For more information regarding the purchase of a BME fire apparatus, please contact us by phone at (800) 445-8342. Sources: 

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