Why Data Collection, Reporting & Fire Department Management Can Make Volunteer Firefighters a Little Grumpy
If you say “data collection” to a volunteer firefighter, you might see their eyes roll all the way around. If you say “records management”, you might get a finger poke in the chest for your efforts. Fire department management and the paperwork it creates falls to volunteers who feel like they are being asked to do more…often with less and rarely with thanks.
Firefighters rush into burning buildings and natural disasters to save people and their things. You are trained to think on your feet and make quick decisions. You rely on that training and your instincts to navigate things that would leave the rest of us ugly crying, with loud hiccupping sobs. Record keeping and paperwork seems almost trivial in comparison.
Not to mention…volunteer firefighters, and the departments they serve, often have to go it alone when trying to raise money to keep the fire department open and recruit volunteers to keep it running. There are no lines forming to offer help with that.
Firefighters know more and do more than they are ever given credited for…and, yet, still more is demanded of you. Rarely are you asked for your opinions on what you need to keep doing the important things volunteer firefighters do. Most would give their eye teeth for the support of an admin person just to help manage the paperwork created with the management of the fire department.
We think that you have a right to be a little grumpy.
FireQ Fire Department Management Tools are the Firefighter’s Solution
The administrative burden of fire department management is growing because we live in the age of Prove It.
As a firefighter, you are required to prove that the ladder was properly maintained, and all its rungs were there to be stood upon.
Prove that the firefighters were properly trained, and we don’t mean pottie-trained.
Prove that the air bottles actually have air in them and that someone smart said so.
Prove that you kept your eyes and ears open during an emergency and that you weren’t stumbling around in the dark…even though any firefighter can tell you that there is much dark-induced stumbling in a structure fire…most often completed while on their bellies.
Sometimes it feels like you are required to put more effort into proving things than actually doing the things. It’s enough to make your head spin faster than a fire truck on its way to a five-alarm blaze.
As firefighters, you know the data is important; and you know that you generate much of that data (with the work you do). What they need is recognition that data collection and management can be no small job and they need solutions that will help manage it. Adequate budgets to support the work, a plan for world peace, and a cure for firefighter cancers wouldn’t hurt either.
FireQ helps you “prove it” by providing affordable, effective, crazy-easy records management for fire departments. You can track incidents, training, certifications, equipment, apparatus, maintenance, and fire department activities. Firefighter hours are counted as easy as 1-2-3. Participation percentages are calculated in the wink of an eye. More importantly, it provides you with a framework to collect the data that YOU need for YOUR department…the data that ensures firefighters are trained and equipment is ready.
FireQ puts firefighters in charge of their data, helps with fire department management, and takes the grumpy out of paperwork.
FireQ & Incident Reporting
A critical component of fire department management is preparing incident reports.
Incident reports serve as a record of the actions taken by firefighters and other emergency responders, as well as any injuries, challenges or hazards encountered during the incident. They are used to document the emergency for future reference and to inform future training and planning efforts.
Incident reports are automatically created in FireQ with each emergency and firefighters who respond using FireQ are automatically included in the report. Each firefighter is automatically credited with the hours from the start of the emergency until the end. Tax credit season is no longer heartburn-inducing.
Moreover, benchmarks created at the fire station level can be time-date stamped and geo-coded at the fire scene more easily than falling down on the ice.
These benchmarks create an incident timeline that is automatically included within the incident report. Months later, should it be needed, detailed information about any incident is as close your fingertips.
FireQ & Training Records
As firefighters, you know that s*** happens and when it happens, you are going. You respond to fires, climate-related emergencies, medical issues, water rescue, motor vehicle accidents, all-hazard incidents, downed power lines, and more.
Whatever it is…firefighters will be there. The skills they need to deal with it are vast and evolving, so firefighters train. You train to increase the chances that everyone comes home safely.
You keep training records to prove their skills; to track proficiency and deficiency; and to ensure firefighter skills match the emergencies to which you respond. Management of these records should not be more challenging that the training itself.
Firefighters use FireQ to track the training they provide, as well as the firefighters who attend the training. With FireQ, firefighters can track training details and attendance. You can also attach supplementary files (like lesson plans and trainer notes).
FireQ & Certification Management
Level I firefighter. Level II firefighter. Incident command system. First aid. CPR. Air brakes. Hazardous materials. EMT. Confined space. The list of certifications firefighters hold can be long and keeping track of who has what and when it expires can be a real pain in the hose.
Sometimes it is the most tedious tasks, like certificate record management, that make fire department management seem overwhelming.
With FireQ, you can track certificates and the time it took to acquire them. A list of who has the certificate and another for who has not is easily viewed and it can send reminders 30 days prior to expiry. And, again, the hours firefighters spend acquiring the certificate are tracked.
FireQ & Fire Department Activities Management
Communities lucky enough to have a volunteer fire department know just how much more firefighters do than respond to emergencies.
They provide public education and outreach; they participate in disaster preparedness planning; conduct fire inspections; maintain equipment and gear; and organize community events. And anyone who has experienced a flood or been in the dark after yet another one-hundred-year storm has sought comfort, heat, potable water and device charging at the local fire station.
One FireQ department in Bath, New Brunswick gave 434 man-hours in the days over Christmas when their community was left without power for several days. Not only did they open the fire hall to serve their residents and source fuel for generators, but they also traveled door-to-door in their community with a portable heater to raise indoor temperatures…if only for a while. You can read the grateful comments of the Bath-ites they helped on their FaceBook page.
Bath firefighters tracked and managed these hours using the FireQ activities log. They recorded the hours as service to the community. We think they should have recorded them as alter-ego hours where their hidden superhero selves swept into action to ease the pain of holidays with no electricity for residents of Bath, NB.
Here they are (shared with their permission) having a meal together on Christmas Day after several long days of providing portable heat and comfort to their friends and
What a fine bunch they are!
Volunteer firefighters are the shelter in the storm…the comfort in the chaos…and the safe space in their communities. Sometimes even they forget all the things they do and all the services they provide. Creating and maintaining records of these activities is vitally important.
FireQ & Equipment/Apparatus Management
Every firefighter knows you can only be as effective as the equipment they use. (This is why firefighters spend so much time fund-raising to acquire the equipment they need.) Firefighters spend a significant amount of time maintaining and testing gear to make sure it is ready to go when needed…like you are.
Maintaining equipment and apparatus takes time and you perform these tasks like your lives depend on it…because they do. You make sure the saws start; the hoses are cleaned, dried, & rolled; the trucks are properly stocked; the nozzles are ready; the SCBA packs are set; and so much more than we have space here to list. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of routine tasks that firefighters complete regularly.
Creating and managing these records can be a full-time job…especially when you consider how many there can be.
FireQ tracks equipment and apparatus, as well as maintenance logs for each piece of equipment, each apparatus. You can even attach supplementary files to pieces of equipment and apparatus. Things like certification registrations, warranty data, testing results, insurance cards, and more can be right at your fingertips.
Firefighters Need & Deserve Help with Fire Department Management
Yes, firefighters are little grumpy and it probably past time to say so out loud.
They are not grumpy because they are required to keep records and manage data. Firefighters have proven over and over that they will do whatever it takes to keep their communities safe. It’s the very reason why they joined the volunteer fire department.
Firefighters are grumpy because there is very little support for the increasing responsibilities being assigned to volunteer fire departments and there is no recognition for the effort it demands. They are grumpy because they know that their volunteer departments are reaching their capacity for what they can do. And they are terrified of what will happen when that capacity is surpassed, and they cannot serve their communities in the way they always have.
Here at FireQ, we respect the hell out of firefighters because they are the best of us. They do the hard things…the dangerous things…for nothing more than the reward of serving their neighbours. It’s a rare thing these days. We believe that fire department management should be the least of their worries and that they deserve solutions that are affordable and effective. It is the very least that they deserve.
Edited to Add
Fire departments all over Canada are filled with ordinary people who do extraordinary things. If you want to be a part of something important…and bigger than self…that will reward you in ways you cannot even imagine, drop by your volunteer fire department. They could use you.