Using Emergency Reporting, I consider myself a “Digital Fire Marshal.” Before becoming an ER user I spent 25 years using paper files and Excel spreadsheets to try to manage my fire prevention programs. I was doing the best I could with the limited resources I had at the time. I now realize that I wasn’t productive, efficient, or effective and I was always in reactive mode.
Several years ago I started using a smartphone, cloud-based technology, and apps for email, text messaging, contacts, online mapping, shopping, online file storage, social networks, video sites, etc. to organize and manage my personal life. This technology radically changed my behavior and lifestyle. Yet on the job I was still using paper in the field and spreadsheets in the office to manage the fire safety of my community. I was frustrated that I couldn’t use existing technology to better manage my fire prevention program.
I finally realized that as technology advances, individuals quickly adapt. However, organizations adapt more slowly. It’s challenging for Fire and EMS departments to keep pace with accelerating changes in technology, especially with limited budgets. I was fortunate to be working for a city that made the decision to place a high priority on improving technology to better serve the community. The fire chief was “digital-ready”. He took advantage of that opportunity and gave me the green light to transform our fire prevention program into the digital age. We implemented Emergency Reporting, including NFIRS, Hydrants and the Occupancy Module with VISION Risk Assessment™ and mapping integration.
About that time a draft version of NFPA 1730 was released encouraging fire departments to use data analytics to conduct a community risk assessment and develop a community risk reduction plan based on local data. Using the ER VISION Risk Assessment™ Module and NFPA 1730 as a roadmap, I began to redesign our fire prevention program into a more agile model that we could adapt to the needs of the community.
• We changed the title to Community Risk Reduction to better identify our focus and mission.
• We became more employee-centric seeking collaboration and feedback from the fire inspectors. Together, we customized the Occupancy Module to better manage the building inventory, inspection process and permit process to improve employee productivity and efficiency.
• We customized our inspection form wording and started using the camera on our tablets to add photographs of violations to better communicate fire safety violations to the business community.
• We used tablets to conduct inspections, gather preplan information and to engage the business community with educational material from the ER Library Module.
The transition was very successful. The fire inspectors enjoyed coming to work and using digital tools to interact with the business community. They were more productive, efficient and effective. Code compliance increased. They got compliments instead of complaints. In summary, we transformed our program from reactive to proactive using digital technology.
ER transformed me into a modern day “Digital Fire Marshal”. I use my smartphone to manage my personal life. I now use my tablet and ER’s cloud-based software to manage my community risk reduction program. I have 24/7 access to every business, contact, fire protection system, fire hydrant, inspection, permit, calendar, event and incident response in my community. In addition, I can run reports, search data, map data and email the data. Most importantly, I can now make data-based decisions. With the introduction of the new ER app InspectER™ I’ll now be able to do my inspections offline in areas without a good connection.
The future of work is already here! ER has reinvented the fire prevention model to help you deliver fire safety solutions for your community. It’s easy and intuitive to use. Upgrade your title to “Digital Fire Marshal” using ER.
In future blogs I’ll go into more detail on how to implement specific “Digital Fire Marshal” functions using ER. Send your questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fire Marshal and Emergency Reporting Trainer
Elk Creek Fire Protection District
Conifer, CO 80433