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In the U.S., a fire department responds to a fire incident every 24 seconds.
With so many incidents to cater to, fire departments need to enhance their operational efficiency by improving incident and fleet management capabilities. If your fire department relies on clunky spreadsheets and manual data entry, you're hurting your ability to respond in a timely, efficient manner—and save lives.
Fire department software can help your fire station improve overall operational efficiency by automating core tasks such as incident, fleet, and personnel management.
In this guide, we'll cover:
What is fire department software?
Fire department software is designed to help fire stations manage operations, personnel, equipment, and inventory. These tools help fire departments automate manual tasks such as record keeping and dispatch management, helping them respond to emergencies much more efficiently.
An example of a personnel management dashboard in fire department software (Source)
Common features of fire department software
Most fire department software products have common features, which can make it difficult to narrow your search and find a specific tool that meets the unique operational needs of your fire department.
Whatever product you pick, be sure it includes these most common fire department software features:
|Incident management||Records all fire-related incidents reported by the public and escalates situations to the fire department nearest the incident location.|
|Fleet management||Helps fire departments manage their fleet of firetrucks and emergency vehicles, including maintenance, mileage, locations, and department allocation.|
|Personnel management||Tracks personnel schedules, availability, and performance.|
|GPS tracking||Tracks the location of firetrucks and other emergency vehicles to coordinate operations from a central control room.|
|Dashboard||Centralized view to capture and track how all GDPR sensitive data is classified, labeled, protected, used, and stored.|
|Inventory management||Helps fire departments manage equipment such as extinguishers, fire hoses, and helmets to ensure all equipment is accounted for and available for incident response.|
|Scheduling||Schedule vehicle maintenance, equipment repair, and internal and external training for employees and the public.|
What type of buyer are you?
Fire departments vary in size and type depending on the density and requirements of the population where they are based.
Larger cities, for example, require more personnel, equipment, and vehicles than smaller towns. Airports, on the other hand, often employ private fire departments to handle emergency incidents.
Before you invest in fire department software, make sure you identify what type of buyer you are and what unique operational requirements you need your software to meet.
- Nonprofit fire departments: Also known as volunteer fire departments, nonprofit fire departments are often based in remote towns and smaller communities. Due to their distance from larger cities, local residents often create a dedicated team of volunteers to respond to emergency incidents on short notice. These nonprofit fire departments should look for free software that can integrate with fundraising tools to keep operational costs down.
- Small fire departments: Fire departments with fewer than 100 personnel and a small fleet of vehicles fall within this category. Often located in small cities or towns with a small population density, fire departments in this group require the core common features of fire department software such as incident, fleet, and personnel management.
- Midsize fire departments: These fire departments have between 100 and 500 personnel and are often located in larger suburbs close to metropolitan areas. Since these fire departments have more staff than the two smaller categories, they often require core features as well as optional features such as scheduling and inventory management.
- Large fire departments: Fire departments located within metropolitan areas and large cities often have over 500 staff members and a plethora of firetrucks and emergency vehicles. Since they are located in densely populated areas, these departments often have multiple stations spread throughout a city and require a fully featured software suite to cater to their increased operational requirements.
Benefits and potential issues
No matter which category you fall in, it's important to understand the benefits of fire station software. These tools provide the following benefits (among others):
- Faster response time to dispatch fire personnel: Once an incident is reported, the nearest station is notified through the software's incident management feature, and firefighters are dispatched quickly.
- Increased operational efficiency: Fire department software often offers a dashboard that highlights key performance indicators (KPIs), such as equipment inventory, fleet information, and incident location. By reviewing KPIs in one location, fire department managers can optimize the operational efficiency of their fire stations.
- Increased training and awareness of fire hazards: Most fire department software integrates with learning management systems, letting users create courses and training material to help new personnel understand fire hazards and safety measures.
When investing in fire department software, here are some considerations to keep in mind to make the most of your purchase:
- Pricing: Fire department software is available in various pricing options based on included features. These options are often divided into three plans: basic, intermediate, and advanced. If you are purchasing software for the first time, start with the basic plan to assess if it meets your requirements before upgrading.
- Third-party integration: Integrating fire department software with other tools increases the functionality of your current system(s) without making additional purchases. For example, if you already have a fleet management solution to manage firetrucks and are looking for fire department software to manage operations, make sure that the tools integrate with each other before making your purchase.
- Mobile apps: Since fire station employees spend most of their time in the field responding to incidents, a mobile app can help them stay synchronized and in contact with their station. Determine whether mobile app functionality would benefit your station and your employees, and look for fire department software that offers a mobile app.
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.