Have you ever wondered if ER could be used with any size fire department? Based on my experience, the size of the department doesn’t matter. ER provides the flexibility to manage any sized fire department.
Before my retirement, I was a six-year ER user in a suburban career fire department. After retiring, I accepted a part-time position as fire marshal for a combination department in a rural mountain community. After spending 30 years with career fire departments it was interesting for me to see the challenges that smaller combination fire departments have protecting their communities. The immediate challenges I observed were longer response times, staffing levels, significant WUI risks, limited water supplies, training, certifications, fire inspections, pre-planning, ISO, asset management, and maintenance. I was very impressed with the great job that they do with the limited resources but immediately realized that ER could help them better manage those limited resources to maximize their efforts.
Over the past few months we’ve been implementing ER one module at a time. I entered data for the 300 commercial occupancies and conducted a risk assessment using the VISION module. I then implemented a fire inspection schedule based on the risk assessment. As a part time fire marshal it was important to prioritize the use of my time. I then entered the location of water sources such as cisterns and ponds. The fire officers implemented the Incident module by importing response data for the past five years, then started entering current response data for 2017.
The next effort was to document and manage the efforts of the volunteer firefighters in the ER system. We took the current point system that includes incident response, standby time, station duties and training, then built the certification and training codes based on State requirements. We also built the current point system into the Incident, Event and Payroll modules using the 2015 IRS amount of $23.55 per hour. We can now pull current data that shows the points, hours and significant financial value that volunteers bring to the fire department and to the community.
One major ER benefit that was a big hit was the fact that ER is Cloud-based and accessible from any device wherever Internet service is available. For the first time volunteers could access fire department data from their mobile device or home computers. This keeps them actively engaged. Another major hit was the mapping integration that allows us to visualize the data on a map of our community. Using a mobile device or computer, we can map the location of occupancies, water sources, response history and burn permits.
In summary, size doesn’t matter. ER can help any sized fire department better manage their resources to better serve their community. It’s exciting for me to see how ER can energize an organization and motivate them to raise the bar even higher.
Fire Marshal and Emergency Reporting Trainer
Elk Creek Fire Protection District
Conifer, CO 80433