5 Features You Need in a Fire RMS

Selecting a Fire RMS

Posted on July 23, 2020
Tags: Fire


Hello, my name is Bill Gardner. I’m a retired fire chief with 35 years experience in public safety — both fire and EMS. One of the most important things that we have in the fire service today is the ability to protect our reputation, as well as the ability to show the value of your organization. And that’s only done by how we are public facing. And one of the tools that we use in that market, in that world, and in our industry across all different parts of the country, is what we do with records management systems. And the ability to have solid records management systems in this day and age, when there’s so many out there is a challenge.

It’s a huge investment, but it’s not just an investment in a software, you’re investing in the reputation of your organization, and the workload of the people that represent you on the street every day. A couple of things that I’ve learned as a chief over the years from talking to other chiefs in other places that have gone through the same challenges, and spending time with a cup of coffee around the station table, to learn about what works and doesn’t work, helps me talk to you a little bit about what you need in your records management system.

There are certain things that we know that have to match the workflow of the industry. It has to match how your men and women work in their system so they can collect all the information they need in one spot. They don’t want to go and try to collect it in eight different softwares. They want one spot. They want to see their schedule. They want to see what’s involved in their daily tasks, they want to enter their incidents. They want to keep up with their equipment. Make sure that it’s all in one place.

You’ve got ISO reporting, you’ve got FEMA, NFIRS reporting, you’ve got state reporting, you’ve got to have a system that provides you data that allows you to report that and send that in a timely manner, without creating a bunch more work that you don’t have time to do.

Also, that data is going to be yours. You need to be able to use it to report to your governing bodies, to your community. There’s nothing more powerful than walking in and providing data into an area of your community that’s specific to them. Showing them what you’ve done in incidents for that area. All of the data should be yours. No data should be held hostage. If you put it in, you ought to be able to find a way to get it out because you don’t know what don’t know, until you run that information.

It’s got to solve problems for you. That system has to be able to collect data and allow you to constantly improve and understand areas that you need to improve. Using that data to get good factual information about your performance gives you that.

The ability to have standardized information, and the ability to have data that shareable is crucial for you as a chief. More importantly, for the fire service as a whole to make sure we have a unified voice in talking about our needs. The ability to configure and add additional items is important for local reporting needs and studies, but making sure the standard reporting pieces are there every time helps all of the fire industry and helps your organization.

So remember, when you’re walking through your RMS, good data going in is good data coming out. Make the platform usable. Make sure that it has standardization reporting. Make sure that you have the ability to use it to drive and improve your organization. And that data is yours and doesn’t belong to anyone else. Good luck in that selection process. Be safe, take care of each other.