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Planning refers to arrangements made in advance to cater for some future event. Risk management planning therefore, is an outline prepared by project managers to foretell risks, to estimate their likelihood of occurring and to find ways of counteracting them when and if they do occur. A risk is any form uncertainty or incident that will cause a negative or positive impact on a project's goals if it occurs.
Good project managers should always keep watch on their respective project progresses so as to counter possible risks as they can arise at any stage of the project's implementation. Therefore a risk management plan should constitute a breakdown of probable risks of both low and high impacts to the project. It should also include a strategy for alleviating the risks in order to aid the project from failing to take off or prosper should they occur.
The management of a risk plan must also keep on updating to avoid its analysis from being stale and not well effected (Myron, 28). In other words, a good risk management plan should not be static but rather flexible to accommodate the ever changing environment.
Risk Management Planning Process
Because risk management planning is an ongoing exercise for project or programme managers, it should therefore have an outline of activities and processes of how they can be carried out. The outline can be drawn as indicated below;
First of all there is the identification of the possible risks. These are uncertain events that could happen.
What is the probability that they can occur?
Analysing the risk and its effects on the project then making it a main concern. In other words, what measures of impact they could have if they occur?
Creating and implementing risk alleviation or recognition measures.
Keeping track of risks and risk alleviation execution plans.
It makes sure that the risk information is availed or provided to all project or programme levels to avoid misinformation.
Finally, revelation of the risk or an outcome that cannot be avoided can be experienced.
The final stage refers to the actual occurrence of the risk, and this cannot be escaped but rather felt. This is a milestone which will aid in the measurement of the premeditated actions to know if they will happen. In most cases, it is just a clear-cut cost versus benefits method.
Risk Management Planning In the Fire and Rescue Services
All fire and rescue service providers world wide provide safety measures to individuals and corporations at all times. This is the most common area that deals with many risks and uncertainties in their day to day operations. To manage these activities, there is always a laid down procedure of events or steps to be followed in case the risk of fire or an accident occurs. These procedures are documented in their risk management plans and keep on changing or being updated every now and then due to changes in technology and our day to day activities.
Risks that are common in this area are mostly fire, building collapse and road accidents. Taking a look at fire uncertainties in the United Kingdom (UK), "new legislation has provided Fire Authorities with both the flexibility and more recently the statutory responsibility to focus greater resources into the prevention of emergencies rather than simply responding to them" (Isle Of Man Fire & Rescue, 201). This shows that the probability of these risks occurring is between 0.5 - 1.0 therefore a lot of emphasise should be put on them when drafting a risk management plan. For example, Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) in the UK attended to over 877, 000 hazardous cases of fire or fake alarm occurrences in 1 year ending on 30th September 2006. This was reported to be a minor increase on the preceding 12 months. In the statistics, fires in dwelling places were shown to be the lowest in a period of 25 years (56,400, down by 2%). "Fires in other buildings including workplaces and areas where people gather became lowest since 1963 (down by 7% to 33,200) and road vehicle fires fell (by 9% to 60,600) to their lowest total since 1990" (Bugbee, 78).
In the case the fire risks, the English authorities dealing with Fire and rescue services have now a vast array of legislative duties to perform and they include
Promotion of safety measures concerning fire
Guard people and property against fire and fight fires if they occur
Provide rescue services to individuals involved in road travel collisions (accidents).
Handle other definite emergencies such as terrorism and flooding.
Based on the above measures, the fire and rescue services have been involved in the process of educating individuals and corporations on the ways of safety promotions at home and work or office environments. These include the way safety precautions should be taken when in an individual's kitchen or office. The Fire Rescue Services (FRS) through county councils that govern fire operations in their areas of jurisdictions have implemented policies ensuring that all fire risks are mitigated efficiently and in a cost effective way. They conduct this in conformity to the Fire and Rescue Act 2004. The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004, corresponds to an all-inclusive reform of the legislative structure. This act, places prevention at the core of all fire and rescue activities because it centers on the promotion of societal protection and mortality prevention. In addition to this, the act addresses the issues of lessening injuries and an overall fire impact reduction. This act is initiated by several legislative bodies/groups together with the local government.
Investigations done have found out that most risks associated with fire occur due negligence by many people. Cigarette smokers leave cigarette butts burning after smoking and throw them in forests or road sides while driving. Most fires are caused by electrical appliances and gas appliances like cookers, iron boxes and other materials which when mishandled cause these risks. When it comes to driving and traffic collisions, most cases involve drivers being under substance influence when these accidents occur. Motorists have always been warned against drunk driving. At the same time, taking precautions and avoiding talking on mobile phones while driving. One can loose control due to lose in concentration hence causing an accident that may lead to a risk of losing ones life. Speed limits have also been set on road sides displayed on road signs to alarm drivers to drive at recommended speeds and avoid over speeding.
The fire and rescue services authorities have guarded individuals and property by providing written instructions on most home appliances on how to prevent the risks. If the risk of fire does happen in the home, fire extinguishers are available for home and small office users as the first aid to mitigate the problem. When this fails, the fire and rescue services will come in and help in the process of solving the problem hence dealing with the situation as it may be. Their first response to the situation is, to save human life and stop the spread of the fire to other property. There are laws which govern the fire and rescue services in dealing with these risks. When this risk does occur, their priority task is to save life and property, but an investigation will be carried out to determine the cause of the risk as required by the law. If it is deliberately set up, then the person responsible will be answerable to the law.
In all these, the evaluation of risks should be done putting in mind the costs involved financially or otherwise. Mostly, risks that occur, for instance fire, have a pattern of occurring and therefore require regular planning and mitigation measures to be undertaken if the do occur. The cost and effect of these risks should be indicated or estimated in a good risk management plan. The costs may include the tools and instruments used in fighting fires and rescue operations and general resources which may be available or are required in order to facilitate the rescue operations or risk mitigations. Training of personnel is another task that should be put in mind when dealing with the costs of implementing a good risk management plan.
When a risk does occur, it will have either a positive or negative impact to the project. In this case (fire), a positive effect will only be, it's being contained in its early stages to prevent damage to life and property. This should be done according to the available legislative measures for a standardized mitigation strategy. On the other hand, a negative impact will often result in loss of life and property. Therefore, measures should be taken to plan for these risk impacts on the society and these can be done through getting insurance policies against fire or accident and even life assurance. Fire prevention measures can again be taught to individuals through seminars or organising special events by the fire and rescue service departments. This is important as it informs the public not only about fire hazard mitigation measures but also about how to act in the event of a fire hazard. They also help in sensitizing the public on the necessary fire fighting equipments they need to have in their dwelling places.
In the case where by a risk has occurred, measures of dealing with the risk should be taken in urgency to show relationship of the risk and its costs during a particular time or stage. Delays in solving the risks, for instance a road collision or fire will result in more risks hence leading to a wider negative impact on the community and the project managers. Therefore, when drawing a fire and rescue management plan, the emergency services should always be given the first priority in order for it to provide speedy and reliable services during disaster times. A contingency plan should again be drawn to indicate the steps to be taken in solving or counteracting the risk.
Project managers in the fire and rescue services should always keep in mind the fact that the risks that face them do not have a particular time or date stated for them to happen. A good risk management plan therefore, should have a structure of how a risk alleviation plan should be undertaken. This can be in form of a particular set of steps to be followed and can be arranged in the form of hours or days according to the disaster at hand. For instance, the earthquake disaster that took place in Haiti on 12th January, 2010 was so massive that rescue operations of the country could not do anything but rather depend on the whole world to come and lend them a hand. This also indicates that a risk can not be quantified before it really occurs.
A good risk management plan should therefore have in it information that is up to date on matters that concern this risk and should be availed to the concerned parties at all levels of a project. In the case a fire and rescue service provider, information should be well distributed to individual's homes and corporations about the risk of fire and its alleviation strategies in order to make the community a safer place. They should again include all stakeholders in order to come up with viable strategies that are not only cost effective but also compliant to legislative requirements. The cost of carrying out these activities should therefore be included in the risk management plan.
In order for the fire and rescue services to be successful in carrying out their activities, property owners are advised to provide the "police, fire departments, and emergency response teams with the layout of their facility, properties of hazardous waste handled at the facility and associated hazards, places where facility personnel would normally be working, entrances to roads inside the facility, and possible evacuation routes" (U.S. Fire Administration/Technical Report Series, 371). These would lessen the risk of fire spreading to adjacent buildings in case of a fire outbreak. It could also help to facilitate easy access to the buildings or facility in question. The facility layouts would also be helpful to rescue operations in general.
Integrated Risk Management Plan
To come up with viable and cost effective measures for controlling such hazards an Integrated Risk Management Plan should again be initiated in the risk management planning process. Integrated risk management is a "framework that delivers on the commitment to strengthen risk management practices across many levels in organizations and the public as a whole" (Mathews, 243). This is necessary in many hazardous situations as it plans for an effective and efficient fire and rescue service. This is because it reduces fire occurrences together with its overall effects. "IRMP also reduces life loss, accidents, reduces severity of hazards, and safeguards the environment. The integrated risk assessment plan also identifies risks of these hazards in a given area and carries out the evaluation for the initiation of preventive measures" (Mathews, 42).
In order to come up with a successful hazard reduction method in the modern world, there is an integrated move towards managing hazards. This move joins together fire and other safety edification for the sole purpose of preventing recognized hazards from occurring, "fire protection for businesses and commerce (to ensure they comply with fire safety legislation) and effective emergency response ensuring that there is the right resources in the right places and that the staff is effectively trained" (Mathews, 42). The IRMP (Integrated Risk Management Plan) is one of the responsibilities of the Fire-Authority and is created by the council's FRS (Fire and Rescue Service). It is again an assessment and a tactical instrument in advising the community on the possible consequences of recognized hazards threatening everybody in the community. It also informs the public how the fire rescue service intends to lessen and manage the hazards by employing traditional and inventive deterrence and intervention strategies. "This ensures that, the right resources are in the right place at the right time while enabling firefighters to respond to emergencies in a flexible and effective way" (Lee, 201).
To get rid of fire outbreaks in buildings for example, identification of the sources of ignitions and reducing them significantly should be done. Fuel for these fires should be identified and appropriate actions which include proper storage and removal them done. Ways of handling the issues of oxygen or aeration is supposed to be considered as well. Measures of ignition reduction are as follows; putting policies in place that encourage no or safe smoking (if there should be any smoking it should be done away from the building and in safe smoking zones), items like ash trays should be supplied to institution where there are a lot of people for making sure that cigarettes are properly put out after smoking. Again making certain that electrical appliances function properly and according to instructions given by the suppliers and finally making sure that all construction work involving electrical usage is carried out in a proper way that does not put the buildings at risk is helpful.
The risk reduction measures in dwelling places are supposed to entail "provision of early fire warning using automatic fire detection, reducing fire by removing combustible materials, controlling the number of people in the accommodation centre and increasing awareness together with student training" (Jones, 69). In addition to this, buildings need decent fire warning systems that electronically detects fires. Recommendations for these systems are that they should be fitted with smoke signals and a control panel for better monitoring. The issue of false alarms that are activated maliciously should be addressed as well. To tackle this problem, activation should be monitored to make sure only genuine alarms are activated. All these risk reduction measures must comply with the fire and rescue services act 2004.
Fire fighting equipments in buildings are needed for extinguishing any kind of fire that could possibly erupt. The fire fighting equipments should comprise of adequate fire extinguishers put in strategic places for easy accessibility. These must have signs showing where they can be found and notices showing the directions of usage and the kind of fires for each specific extinguisher. Horse reels are also required which often need special people trained to handle them. The extinguishers again are supposed to be checked regularly to make sure they are operational and for refills.
Another important measure is the placing of notices and signs which are essential for guiding people to ways of escape, location of fire extinguishers and warning systems. The buildings are supposed to be equipped with this as they are required by the health and safety regulations. These signs are to be in picture form to enable everyone to know the meaning easily. All these are supposed to be strategically placed for better viewership and understanding.
When it comes to risk management planning, budgeting is an important aspect that should not be sidelined. All the resources that are involved in the fire and rescue services have a monetary aspect attached to them. The fire fighting equipment, labour costs and even risk alleviation training materials constitute costs which should be included in the risk plan in advance. Risks can not be measured in advance but the costs can be calculated basing on past occurrences. This will help the project planners in the long run to realise the efficiency of a risk management plan when it succeeds. Budgeting should therefore be done by experts in the field of planning.
Risk management planning should be thoroughly carried out and implemented for a good project to succeed. The decline or lessening of risks and uncertainties will have a positive impact on the project out in the long run. Strict adherence to the set guidelines in the risk management plan should be encouraged by programme managers at all costs. Any decision which they may undertake can determine the future of a project (Williams, 2000). Risk analysis is categorised into three groups; these are low impact, medium and high. From this kind of rating, the most devastating ones are the medium and risk. Therefore during planning, these two should be given the first priority. A good risk analysis and mitigation process should be presented in tables to make it easier when conducting assessments. All in all a risk assessment should serve its purpose which is to identify the risks, evaluate them so as to aid in the process of decision making in matters dealing with safety to individuals and property.