5 Features You Need in Fire Inspections Software
A large portion of a fire department’s service to its community is fire inspection. From new construction to regular checks on existing properties, fire professionals’ time making buildings safer pays off in lives and property saved through prevention.
However, as construction materials and plans become increasingly complex and customized, and cities continue to grow at increasing rates, the old method of paper-and-pen inspections struggles to keep pace. Additionally, the valuable benefit of utilizing inspections to create fire preplans means adding another time-consuming step in the fire inspector’s handwritten work.
As a result, many fire departments are transitioning to fire inspection software that makes their jobs more efficient and complete during the inspection, and later in creating an incident preplan. Created specifically for fire inspections, these software tools digitize the checklists and forms used for property inspections. These digital records can then be easily used to create a digital fire preplan, saved to the cloud to safely store and maintain, and shared when needed to all responding personnel during an incident.
The efficiencies that fire departments can realize by using fire inspection software are impressive. But it’s important to do your due diligence when shopping for the right tool for your department. New software tools represent a significant investment in money and training time. Consider these five features you’ll want to ensure are included in your fire inspections software tool.
1. CAMEO Integration
Some of the properties you inspect may store potentially hazardous materials onsite. It’s essential to ensure they are correctly stored, and those responding units are aware of their presence in case of a fire incident. CAMEO Chemicals is an extensive hazardous chemical database that includes critical response information, such as physical properties, spill response, health hazards, air and water hazards, and recommendations for firefighting and first aid.
During inspections, you may encounter chemicals that need to be recorded or tracked. Instead of memorizing “METHYL 2-CHLOROACRYLATE” or keeping a physical copy of the CAMEO booklet with you, you can instead look to your inspection software with built-in integration. Your inspection tool should allow you to search by all or part of the name in the CAMEO database and then easily record pictures, amounts, and storage location on your digital inspection record.
2. Historical Property Data
Occupancies and owners can frequently change in a community, and it can be a challenge to keep track of all of the businesses that have been in a single building over the years. However, knowing that information can be critical. For example, if the previous occupant of a building stored hazardous chemicals onsite that were known to be carcinogenic to humans, the fire inspector would want to conduct an extra level of inspection to ensure the building was safe for human occupancy.
In the past, information about the previous occupants, chemicals stored onsite, historical violations, and more wasn’t trackable in software. If inspections and occupancies were documented on paper, you had to be exceptional at note-keeping and organization. Now, however, fire inspection software can help you store this information digitally for easy access. On your digital property records, you should be able to see associated contacts, past occupancies, deactivated chemicals, and other pertinent information. Preplan details also increase your situational awareness in the case of a fire incident and response.
3. Batch Fire Inspection Scheduling
Depending on your inspection type, you may need to schedule multiple types of inspections across numerous properties throughout the year. While pen-and-paper and spreadsheets can help you organize inspections, they don’t have the automation factor that software can offer. Look for software that allows you to do batch scheduling to assign and schedule multiple inspections in one-go.
Additionally, make sure your inspection tool allows for on-the-spot scheduling that you can complete while in the field. These time-saving features and calendar tools mean your inspectors will spend less time manually shifting schedules and following up for appointments. As fire departments are increasingly being asked to do more with less, decreasing the busy work for your crew means higher job satisfaction and the ability to accomplish more.
4. Images and Attachments
One complication with spreadsheets and pen-and-paper methods is that you can’t attach images of violations, chemical storage, or other essential details. Taking a photo can help better define violations and spot areas that may need to be addressed during a response. A strange custom setup or a particular construction piece that is hard to describe in words can be simply conveyed through an attached photo.
Similarly, documents and signatures can be instantly attached to the inspection record, reducing paperwork and making organization and storage simplified. These images and attachments automatically stay with the digital record for reference by all who view it now and in the future. Making the most of these digital technologies can change how your fire inspectors stay organized and drive down the amount of time they spend tracking paper documents.
5. Permitting Capabilities
Permits are an essential task tied to inspections and about which most property owners are especially concerned. Look for fire inspection software that offers permitting capabilities, such as adding a permit to an inspection record, issuing a permit for an event, and managing permit requests. Additionally, your tool should also allow you to print or email a permit in a displayable format for the property owner in minutes.
Integrating your permitting tasks with your fire inspection software also helps you easily track your overall permitting and inspection business, record fee revenue, and ensure compliance with local ordinances. Automated permitting tools can also alert you to which permits are expiring soon, helping you plan and prioritize your inspection schedule for the months to come.
Fire inspection software can truly make significant improvements in how easily your fire inspectors can do their jobs. The tools and integrations allow them to shift their focus away from the paperwork and spreadsheets to get to know local properties and identify fire risks. Just like the other tools in the fire station, powerful and easy-to-use fire inspection software helps your team do its job more effectively for a safer community.