Public helps fire department develop strategic plan

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For the first time in more than a decade, Wilson Fire/Rescue Services is working to update the department’s strategic plan and on Monday, the agency invited Wilson residents to offer input in the process.

“We are doing an all new strategic plan and what better way to start that than getting feedback from our stakeholders? So I appreciate all of you coming here today,” said Chief Albert Alston.

Center for Public Safety Excellence Strategic Planning Manager Brian Dean led the discussion Monday with roughly 30 residents, city and county employees as well as Wilson City Councilman James Johnson. The meeting was open to anyone, but 75 randomly selected residents received written invitations.

“A compass shows you what direction you should go and the strategic plan is a way to determine which way the department should go based on what information you provide,” Dean said. “The strategic plan they are doing to develop will provide the direction to take and how to get there. We’re working with them, but they are developing it with a step-by-step process, but like a GPS system, they’ll have the ability to recalculate if they need to because a lot of things can happen in five years and we want them to be able to handle that.”

Alston said the center accredits Wilson Fire/Rescue Services, so the staff there was an obvious choice to work with for the strategic plan process. The project will cost $15,120 and includes the public meeting as well as three days of intensive meetings for 24 department members this week.

“Not every single member of the department can participate because wheels have to roll, but we have someone representing every rank,” Alston said, noting Administration Compliance Administrator Tracy McKeel put together a group of participants who are representative of the department. “We’ve covered all ranks, tenures and it is a very diverse group of people. Those that are one shift will be able to take the information back to their shift and come in the next day with ideas from others.

“We want to make sure we hear from everyone even though everyone can’t be in the room.”

During the public meeting, participants expressed their opinion on department priorities, strengths and opportunities for growth. McKeel said the information from the public and the staff will be collated into a report by the end of September. Once complete, the strategic plan will be posted online and distributed to staff.

“It is a living document and it will continue to evolve,” said Deputy Chief Ben Smith. “The strategic plan is a road map for the organization with goals and objectives. As the department grows and evolves, we have to evolve, and the plan keeps us relevant to the community, making sure we’re providing the services the community desires and at the level they desire.”