In the year 2000, Google began selling words for the purpose of making people click on the ads that contain those words. In the 20 years that have passed since then, data has become king. How data is collected…and used…can make or break an organization. This includes fire departments.
Measure Your Performance words on a wooden ruler, evaluating your work quality, skills or knowledge at a job or school
For fire departments, data can save lives and property. Because firefighters do dangerous work, most have been in situations that can (and sometimes do) become uncontrollable. Knowing how long it takes them to arrive on scene, or how long it takes to get a wetting agent applied, or how long firefighters have been in a burning building is critical. More importantly, this data needs to be available to the Fire Chief…the guy responsible for ensuring that firefighters are as prepared as they can be for situations that can go from controlled to dangerous.
Like elite athletes, firefighters train hard and they train regularly…to be better than they were the last time. They compete against themselves each time they train, each time they respond. FireQ benchmarks help firefighters measure their own performance at each stage of an emergency response. Data is collected and measured at the department level…quickly and easily.
How FireQ Benchmarks Work
Firefighters can time-date stamp important milestones of an emergency response, as well as include which firefighters and which apparatus participated in each task. More importantly, it can be done in three simple steps:
- During an active incident, a benchmark button is available on the home screen of the FireQ app.
- A complete list of the benchmarks is visible to all firefighters.
- Firefighters with the appropriate permissions, tap the benchmark to start a timer, mark the task complete, or tag specific apparatus and firefighter.
Some of the most common benchmarks are included in each FireQ system. Fire departments, however, can also add their own custom benchmarks…create their own metrics to measure their own goals.
How & Why Fire Chiefs are Using Them
Benchmarks (more importantly, benchmarks in the hands of the Fire Chief) are powerful tools. A Fire Chief, for example, may want to measure the response time of his department in getting to the scene to ensure that they are arriving in 9-14 minutes (depending on urban or rural location) 90% of the time; or, to measure how long it takes to safely commence an initial attack, to ensure that it is done within 2 minutes 90% of the time. A Training Officer may want to tailor training to when department goals are not being met.
Standard operating procedure for most departments requires that an incident commander should be assigned to each emergency scene; and that the incident commander is responsible for coordinating and managing everything that happens on the scene. Using benchmarks to create a department checklist of how the scene should be managed ensures that each scene is handled the same way, using the same criteria, regardless of who has been appointed incident commander. Benchmarks also provide incident commanders with timers for such things as when a team of firefighters makes entry to a burning building, letting them track the time remaining on air tanks.
Post-incident analysis with the department membership allows firefighters to see what went well and what did not. Each activity on the fire scene can be broken down and examined by the people involved,
giving firefighters a way to measure their own success by more than how much or how little people are complaining.
Most Fire Chiefs have, at some point, been involved in an emergency that resulted in the involvement of an insurance company or an investigative entity. Incident reports that contain time-date stamps of when the fire department arrived on scene, when the initial size-up was completed, when a wetting agent was first applied, when firefighters made first entry or when the fire was knocked down are extremely valuable. In the days and weeks following an emergency, investigators are empowered by fire departments that have captured the important data.
Regardless of the reasons, relevant fire department data in the hands of the Fire Chief can used to set department goals and measure their progress. FireQ benchmarks give Fire Chiefs relevant data that is captured, viewed, and shared easily. With that data, fire departments can measure their own success and compete against their own accomplishments…kinda like elite athletes who are always striving to be better than they were the last time.
So, the question is…how are you measuring…up?