4 Ways to Keep Your Fire Station Organized
A fire department is much more than the image of firefighters running to the fire truck and speeding off to a burning building. While that is, of course, the most iconic and well-known duty of a fire department, there are countless other responsibilities that must be fulfilled on a regular (sometimes daily) basis. These range from other services provided to the community, ongoing training, equipment, and facility maintenance.
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a hefty fire checklist manual – or attempted to compile the training needed by your entire station, individual employees, EMTs, and other specialized response teams – you may have that overwhelming feeling that there’s more to do in a single day than possible. Fire departments are expected to fulfill daily logs, training requirements, and checklists. Add to that the need to communicate between shifts on broken equipment or other important items that need attention.
In the hustle and bustle of daily station life, it can be hard to get to those projects that seem to always be pushed to the bottom of the “to-do” list. Handwritten notes or captain logs just can’t keep up with the increasing complexity and volume of what must be accomplished within the station. The good news is that with a little organization, and specialized tools created specifically for fire department asset management, you can have your station operating like a well-oiled machine.
1. Simplify Daily Checklists
A checklist is a valuable tool that can help ensure you’re accomplishing everything needed consistently. However, when your lists become too long, too numerous, or aren’t kept updated, it makes the process much more tedious and harder to enforce.
Take a look at your current checklists process. Are checklist items frequently missed? Or are some checks skipped entirely? Maybe some crewmembers aren’t sure which checks to happen when. You may need to simplify your daily checks into a more manageable process. You can walk through the checklists with a fresh set of eyes and see which steps are no longer applicable or should be updated. Ensure that your team members understand each step and have a chance to give feedback on why certain steps are skipped. Streamline wherever possible to make the job quicker yet still complete.
Additionally, leverage technology where you can. You may have been relying on spreadsheets but see that your needs are exceeding those functions. An easy-to-use software tool like ESO Checklists offers digital checklists that can be used from any Internet-connected device and allows you to create customized checklists that include notifications, scheduled maintenance, and automated alerts. Customized checklists also make it exceptionally easy to pull reports and view data on station assets with a few clicks.
2. Keep Communication Channels Active
Consider how your station lets someone know a check couldn’t be completed or a repair needs to happen? If you’re still using paper and pen methods, you might not be using the best communication process.
The easiest way to eliminate confusion and miscommunication is to create a defined process for sharing updates through a daily digital pass down log or report. Outline what is to be shared each day and how it should be shared. Then, ensure that everyone on the team understands the process, their role, and your expectations for compliance. While they’ve likely formed their ways to communicate by necessity, it eliminates gaps to institute a standard that all can follow.
Again, there are digital tools that can help automate this communication loop within the fire station. The ESO Activities software tool offers a wide range of scheduling, to-do lists, and CRR engagement trackers, but a key feature is its digital pass down logs. These logs are easily sharable and reportable, making it easy to communicate with your entire team on what tasks have been completed and which still need attention. Additionally, these digital logs are reportable, making it simple to view a historical view of certain projects or activities within your department.
3. Track Repairs & Maintenance Digitally
If you’re involved in your fire department’s budget, it’s no shock to you that fire equipment is costly. Today’s top of the line fire trucks come in at almost $1 million dollars, and outfitting a single firefighter can exceed $12,500. It’s a part of the job, and firefighters need this high-quality equipment to do the job they’re asked to do safely and effectively.
That said, it’s imperative to properly maintain and repair this equipment promptly to ensure longevity and proper performance. Repairs can be costly and add up in a hurry if they aren’t caught early. Daily equipment checks, logs, and immediate communication – and response – on needed repairs play an important role in ensuring that your station is in top condition at all times.
Tools like ESO Asset Management can convert your equipment checks into a digital experience, helping you track detailed information – including status, maintenance records, activity, quantity, and profile. You can scan an unlimited number of items into the system from your mobile device and track them from a computer, phone, or tablet and add images or PDFs. The tool’s notification system alerts you of any needed repairs or replacements. These functions make it easier to be aware of and keep ahead of your station’s maintenance and ensure response readiness.
4. Leverage Reporting to Identify Station Organization Needs
Spreadsheets and pen and paper can only take you so far in understanding your station’s organization’s status. You need in-depth, real-time reporting to truly keep your station organized and aligned. No one wants to spend hours combing through printouts and punching numbers into a calculator; going digital with your station operation records not only saves you time and headache but helps reduce the risk of error.
The reporting tools included in ESO Asset Management and ESO Checklists offer up-to-date insight from your phone, tablet, or computer. Whether you are walking into a budget discussion or need a quick answer on repair status, you are always informed. Additionally, the ability to review historical data over the past months offers more insight into your station’s operations and what might be improved.
Better Organization Means Increased Readiness
The benefits of going digital with your station maintenance and asset management are numerous and far-reaching; besides ensuring your station is always ready to respond, and your team has everything they need to be successful, it takes a heavy mental burden off of the shoulders of the management team.
The ability to quickly access all station data in a single location – and trust that you will be automatically alerted to any issues – allows you to focus on other proactive improvements, new training opportunities, or beneficial QI/QA programs that have been on your agenda. Making the most of today’s technologies and tools for fire department maintenance can help you take your station to the next level of performance.
Watch introduction videos about the full suite of ESO software tools for fire departments.