Portland Fire & Rescue

Case Study

Taking the Temperature for Urban Public Services

Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) is the largest fire and emergency services provider in the state of Oregon. However, the city’s population and infrastructure were changing, and PF&R needed to adapt and grow with its community.

A Growing Blaze
The Portland metropolitan area was growing, and demand on the city’s emergency services was climbing accordingly. These developments accompanied larger shifts in the field of firefighting, and the PF&R team was increasingly becoming the first line of response for medical emergencies. Despite this pressure, budget and resource restrictions that were set during the Great Recession had not been loosened, and the department was struggling. It was time for PF&R to carefully consider its future, how it delivered the most value, and in what ways the organization could evolve to meet future needs.

PF&R called on Coraggio to develop a new strategy that could address these mounting challenges. To ensure the continued safety and security of over two million residents, we would also have to account for natural changes in technology and infrastructure, as well as the Fire Chief’s nearing retirement.

Sparking a Discussion
P&R is a trusted community resource, so warm support from the city’s residents would determine the success of a new strategy. Coraggio began with a citizen survey and held several open meetings to take the public’s temperature: What were the community’s key concerns? Where were PF&R’s strengths and weaknesses? What should PF&R look like in five years’ time?

Around the Hearth
A diverse strategic planning team representing PF&R leadership, firefighters, administrative staff, Portland City Hall, the Portland Firefighters Association and Portland’s medical community came together to distill the citizen feedback and make key decisions.

This team collaborated to develop a plan that addressed local challenges, pinpointed opportunities, established strategic imperatives and framed specific, actionable initiatives. They shone light on PF&R’s need for innovation and service and a commitment to step up its role protecting and informing Portland’s diverse communities. At the end of the process, the five-year strategic plan described how PF&R could best serve its city and address ongoing changes in service, technology and funding.

Blazing Ahead
The plan was intended to be flexible and changing, designed for constant updates and new ideas. Its framework allowed for PF&R to review the initiatives, determine which had gone cold, which needed to be updated, what new initiatives could be added, and which objectives should be updated on an annual basis. Just like PF&R, it was ready to respond when the city called.

“ A strength of the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan is work done by Coraggio Group. The stakeholder interviews, focus groups, community meetings and survey, and insight report and SWOT analysis provided an excellent foundation from which the steering committee could complete their work. Coraggio was the right consulting firm for this project. PF&R is grateful for their assistance in helping to define the right direction for FR&R in the next five years and extremely pleased with the strategic planning development process and final product. ”

— Erin Janssens, Former Fire Chief