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Preplan Today, Protect Tomorrow:

How to Increase Public and Provider Safety with Preplanning & Inspections Software

ESO Staff

Data is everywhere on the fire field and information is constantly being recorded and shared. Whether it is new “smart” PPE that can monitor hazardous chemicals in the air, trucks that monitor and alert on hose pressure or just simple measurements like call-to-door time, data points are imperative to making the job of a firefighter safer and more effective. Additionally, fire agencies are constantly asked for metrics on a wide range of measures, over various periods of time, by organizations at a local and national level.

With this abundance of information comes the realization that the days of handwritten notes and records in the fire station are quickly coming to an end. This rich data has the potential to truly make a difference in the daily work life of a firefighter if it can be harnessed and understood. Fire agencies looking at making the switch from paper record systems and protocols to digital tools can be assured that the time invested in making this switch is sure to yield huge returns for their teams, in both time-saved, reduced duplication of work, and – perhaps most importantly – more efficient responses to fire events.

Possibly the most practical example of how digital data can make an immediate impact on a fire agency is the use of preplanning and inspection software in creating response plans. Building inspections represent a huge portion of a fire agency’s operating workload. New construction requires it, along with annual inspections, to ensure buildings in the community are up-to-code and free of fire hazards. The challenge, however, is how to ensure that these inspection records are not only complete and consistent but easy to access and up-to-date.

The answer comes in the form of inspection software that is tailored to the fire industry. Fire agencies can use this software, deployed to handheld smart devices, to make their observations and records during a property inspection. Inspectors can add photos and note a wide range of important property specs, such as the number of entrances, onsite hazardous materials, occupancy, and much more. At the end of the inspection, they can use the tool to schedule the next appointment.

Additionally, inspection software can be configured for each agency’s needs, from verbiage to key points needed in the inspection. A progressive, wizard-like setup ensures that all required fields are completed before moving on to the next screen, ensuring that even the newest inspectors don’t miss a thing. Dropdown menus ensure that the same terminology is used, making it easier to compare and process metrics later, and reducing communication confusion when reviewing properties. Finally, fire code databases can be instantly accessed, as well as property occupancy history and any past violations. Your team’s time spent on a property can become exponentially more efficient and complete.

Of course, the additional time-saving benefit of not having to go back to the station and manually re-enter your inspection report into the station’s system is attractive enough, not to mention reducing the chance for human error when copying data from paper to computer. Another benefit is that inspection records can be easily accessed and stored in the Cloud, meaning no single piece of hardware (or spreadsheet or binder) has to hold all the information; it can be updated digitally and accessed and shared as needed.

This leads to perhaps the most practical result of having accurate, easily accessible inspection records: making more efficient preplans and responses during fire events. Preplans, of course, involves knowing the ins and outs of the properties in your community, including essential protection features such as standpipes, lockboxes, stairwells, and occupant shelters. Details as simple as where to park the truck during a response can save valuable time; more serious items such as where hazardous materials are located also are extremely helpful to incident command onsite.

For example, a responding crew can review a building layout on a tablet while en route. Incident command can utilize the wide range of details to make a most effective plan of response. Where are occupants located? Where are the fire suppression systems? Where are hidden dangers lurking? Inspection and preplan data can be shared with EMS and 911-dispatch centers to help coordinate efforts across first response teams for a safer response by all parties involved.

More complete and easier-to-access inspections and preplans can mean safer communities, a reduction in property loss, and in some cases, lives saved, whether in the community or firefighters themselves. Using today’s software tools, specifically designed with the fire industry in mind, can really change data points into useful information, from the firehouse to the fire field.

Find out more about ESO Fire software at eso.com/fire.

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