ESO Predicts Key Fire Industry Trends for 2023

The focus will be on provider safety, economic impacts on budgets, recruitment, and changing technology and supply chain impacts on the fire service.

January 26, 2023 – Austin, TexasESO, the leading data and software company serving emergency medical services (EMS), fire departments, hospitals, state and federal agencies, today shared the trends it predicts will have the biggest impact on the fire service in 2023: provider safety will be a top priority; the current economic situation will impact budget cuts; recruitment will be a challenge for many organizations; and supply chain logistical issues will impact equipment availability and safety.

“The current economic situation is expected to have profound impacts on our communities and public safety infrastructure,” said Bill Gardner, Senior Director of Fire Products for ESO and retired fire chief. “Additionally, as the application pool dwindles and first responders retire out of the fire service, we’ll see challenges related to recruiting and expansion of the fire service. It will become crucial for agencies to adopt new recruiting approaches to attract, hire, and retain the most qualified candidates. Actionable data will be crucial in making 2023 successful.”

Key Fire service predictions for 2023:

  • Budget restraints loom in the current economic situation:
    We are seeing economic indicators like 2008, which impacted fire service budgets and resources. The budget restraints and considerations will cause a ripple effect across many of the services agencies provide today. We will see a change in deployment models, with fewer engines on the road and a greater increase in commercial-type vehicles (SUVs). Staff will be asked to do more across a broader geography as resources become tighter. For the long term, we expect to see a more significant impact on budgets in 18 months as cycles get discussed and finalized in 2023 for 2024.
  • We’ll continue to see staffing shortages for public service roles:
    Last year, we predicted that staffing issues would be a challenge. We are continuing that prediction this year. We are seeing indicators that the number of individuals applying for public service roles has fallen by 50% in the last 3-4 years, making the applicant pool smaller. Additionally, we are seeing more and more responders retiring for a variety of reasons, putting extra pressure on agencies and departments to identify qualified personnel to fill both senior and entry-level roles. Moreover, evidence shows that approximately 40% of new recruits last about three years, creating high turnover rates that impact morale and institutional knowledge.
  • Supply chain and logistics issues will affect equipment availability and safety:
    The current global supply chain issues we are experiencing will continue to affect the fire service as well. We are seeing challenges ordering and receiving fire trucks, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), personal protective equipment (PPE), etc., that will affect the abilities of agencies and departments to replace items that meet industry standards. Additionally, Safety concerns for firefighters will be on the rise as gear breaks down and needs to be retired. Moreover, rural agencies will be particularly affected by these issues. Agencies and departments that better manage existing supplies (such as brake pads and tires on trucks) and anticipate key needs will place orders early in the process to ensure proper equipment is maintained and replaced regularly.
  • Organizations will need to rely on technology to combat recruiting, training, and community challenges:
    Technology will play an increased role in all aspects of the fire service, including response, education, safety, recruiting, and more. For example, we’ll see thermal-image cameras mounted to masks for individuals working in direct interior suppression. Additionally, we’ll see the evolution of continuing education in a format that matches the workforce. This will include a blend of video and simulation interaction delivered in an on-demand format with live skill performance. Moreover, agencies will need to demonstrate the value of services and the diversity of services, tied to reporting, to drive recruitment and retention, as well as justify budget requests.

Download the 2023 Fire Predictions white paper here.

About ESO
ESO (ESO Solutions, Inc.) is dedicated to improving community health and safety through the power of data. Since its founding in 2004, the company continues to pioneer innovative, user-friendly software to meet the changing needs of today’s EMS agencies, fire departments, hospitals, state EMS offices, and federal agencies. ESO currently serves thousands of customers throughout North America with a broad software portfolio, including the industry-leading ESO Electronic Health Record (EHR), the next generation ePCR; ESO Health Data Exchange (HDE), the first-of-its-kind healthcare interoperability platform; ESO Fire RMS, the modern fire Record Management System; ESO Patient Registry (trauma, burn and stroke registry software); and ESO State Repository. ESO is headquartered in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit www.eso.com.

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Andy Prince

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