I had a conversation this past month with a Deputy Chief regarding this subject of CAD Systems NOT BEING the optimal records management system. Five years ago his department built a new dispatch facility for three fire departments, implementing a new CAD system commonly deployed in the area. Today, this department is talking to us about our records management capability. Why, because their experience over five years is the CAD system is not performing as expected: it is not user friendly, no easy access to operational data and does not offer the tools to effectively view and report on the details of his operation. This department has realized that the CAD system was not designed for fire operations. It is an adaptation of a police system. Fire department’s work flow is site or address specific: where are the most runs, what is the inspection history for a building, etc? Changing an incorrect site address in the CAD system required a support call to the CAD vendor, which is inconvenient & time consuming. It speaks to a poorly designed user interface. Needless to say the process is an inefficient way to correct a simple item: an address. How often is dispatch going to issue a support ticket to the vendor for a simple address correction? The net result is command staff lacks a solid platform to effectively manage the complexities of their operation.
Over the past seven years, talking to Chiefs about their data management, we consistently heard the same concerns. The CAD system was built for police and poorly adapted to meet the needs of fire operations. Or, their existing records management system is used in conjunction with a mishmash of paper, excel spreadsheets and a variety of software applications which have to be supplemented with unnecessary man hours to effectively manage and report on the complexities of the operation.
The impact of poor records management is the inability to make the case for initiatives such as funding for additional staff, equipment and apparatus. Applying for grants is routinely dismissed given the lack of data. More could be with existing resources, but work flow becomes unnecessarily labor intensive because of inefficient systems.
Given your operational experience and years of expertise you are the authority on what you need- a unified, easy-to-use, fully integrated system supporting and connecting functionality across your operation: rostering, apparatus maintenance, inspections, tracking training, preplans and site records along with accurate and flexible NFIRS reporting.
Our vision is one of transforming department workflow by utilizing a well designed and mobile records management system. In effect putting real time data in every command staff member’s hands to better manage the operation, paperless and in real time – by ensuring the availability of critical information where and when it is needed, thus enabling more information-rich decision making.
If we can help you realize this vision for your operation, let us know.