Fire Prevention Is the Key

Do you spend your day putting out fires at work? Running from one emergency to the next? Trying to contain the damage? This is an exhausting way to live, and unfortunately, all too common. You might be the hero for the day, but another emergency is just around the corner. Fear of failure is always looming. What if I told you there’s another way to do things?

During the Michigan Lean Consortium‘s annual conference, I attended a breakout session called “Making Improvements Soar with Value Streams” presented by Rob Pease and Brad Brown. Rob and Brad were Lean champions for the Grand Rapids Fire Department.

Rob and Brad introducing themselves at a breakout session for the Michigan Lean Consortium’s annual conference, last summer.


As they were introducing themselves, they talked about how firefighting has evolved. Initially the work involved running from one fire to the next (real fires, for them!). However, fire fighters soon realized they could spend less time fighting fires if there were fewer fires and if they were able to put them out more quickly. Fighting fires is risky business–the less time spent fighting fires, the less personal exposure to danger. In addition, fewer fires means fewer injured citizens. As a result, fire departments work hard to find new ways to prevent fires (attack the root cause) and provide the best possible training. The Grand Rapids Fire Department’s Residential Safety Program won the 2013 Leland Gayheart Prevention Award from the University of Michigan Trauma Burn Center.

This is where Lean comes in. Finding the time to search for the root causes of workplace emergencies and applying problem-solving techniques can result in a permanent reduction in the number of “fires” you have to put out. This will reduce your exposure to possible failures. You can begin an upward spiral of reduced stress and more time for planning and prevention.

If you’re ready to move into fire prevention, click here, answer a few short questions, and we’ll work with you to find solutions and improve your processes.