Strategies & Tactics

The most effective risk-reduction strategies are those that apply a broad-based approach utilizing a combination of prevention and mitigation strategies. Multiple strategies can be applied to prevent or mitigate community risks.

For each risk identified, consider who, what, when, and where.

  • Who is the audience of focus?
  • What is happening when events occur?
  • When are the events occurring?
  • Where are the events occurring?

The National Fire Academy (NFA) promotes the use of the “Five E’s,” in which intervention strategies are listed in one of five different categories. Using multiple interventions can prevent incidents from occurring, and when prevention fails, can reduce or mitigate the impact of an event. Using a combination of the Five E’s can produce a synergistic effect that is more effective than applying any one individual tactic. Ultimately, they can contribute to the development of comprehensive and effective solutions.

The “Five E’s” of Prevention & Mitigation


Education can influence behavior by increasing awareness, and providing information and knowledge with the intention of producing a desired behavior. Education is only effective if individuals apply this knowledge appropriately. Examples of educational interventions include:

  • School curricula
  • Fire station tours
  • Flyers and/or brochures
  • Traditional advertisements/articles
  • Lectures and slide presentations
  • Assorted media (TV, social media)
  • Door-to-door ; home visits
  • Websites (content and web tools)

There is a wide variety of different prevention programs and materials available for use in prevention education.


Engineering applies to changes in the physical environment. Modifying a product or environment to prevent or mitigate injury, death, or destruction of property is an engineering tactic. Changes are often the result of advances in technology. Examples may include:

  • Fire sprinklers
  • Automobile air bags
  • Helmets (bicycle & sport)
  • Double-wall chimney flues
  • Child car seats
  • Fire sprinkler systems
  • Smoke alarms
  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)


Enforcement applies to reducing risks (hazards) through the legislative process of strengthening and adoption of applicable laws. This includes enforcing those laws through various inspection programs or methods, and, in some cases, imposing penalties for non-compliance. Examples of enforcement are fire and life-safety codes; requirements for fire sprinklers; and mandatory smoke alarm installation.

Economic Incentives

Economic incentives are offered to encourage or influence individuals and organizations to make certain choices or behave in specific ways. Incentives can influence behavior either negatively or positively. Negative economic incentives result in monetary punishment for “inappropriate” behavior or making certain choices. Fines, citations, and tickets are examples of negative incentives intended to discourage people from choosing unsafe behaviors.

Positive economic incentives reward people for behaving in a certain manner or making certain choices. Free smoke alarms are one example. Sales, coupons, and discounts are examples used to persuade people to do business. In one U.S. community, local government uses positive incentives by offering a one-time reduction in property taxes for retrofitting a home with a fire sprinkler system.

Emergency Response

Fire departments, EMS providers, and law enforcement agencies apply their emergency response capabilities to mitigate risk. A community’s ability to provide adequate emergency services must be considered when developing a CRR plan. Simply, some risks can only be mitigated by enhancing current capabilities, or by adding new emergency response resources.

An effective emergency response can mitigate sudden injury and illness, save lives, and reduce or prevent property loss. An effective emergency response system will have sufficient personnel; sufficient equipment; adequate response times; and trained responders, to name a few. Scientific evidence indicates if fire department resources are deployed to match the risk levels, the community becomes less vulnerable to firefighter and civilian injuries and deaths, and property loss.

The appendix at the end of this guide contains a response-capability worksheet that can be used to assist in determining the personnel, equipment, and resources needed for a fire in a particular occupancy.

In disasters or other significant incidents, emergency services organizations may be overwhelmed by demands. In these instances, a well-organized and managed Community Emergency Response Team can be an effective resource.