What Kind of Data Should Fire Departments be Collecting?
Every fire department needs to be able to make informed decisions on a day to day basis. Obviously fighting fires is part of the job, but there aren't always emergencies that need to be responded to. The most effective fire departments are proactive in creating prevention strategies so that they can make sure they are well prepared when the calls do come in. The only way they can do this is by being proactive in how they collect, store, and analyze their data both within their individual stations and the communities they protect. Once a department has an effective data collection tool, they need to know what kind of data to collect and how that data is going to support them in the important work that they do.
Tracking basic information related to incident response is incredibly valuable to see how your team is operating on a daily basis. By seeing what your most common calls are, the length of time your calls typically take, the time of day or day of the week those calls come in, and the equipment used on those calls you can get an idea of how to prepare better in the future. Maybe you need more people on shift on tuesdays, or you need to be prepared for more EMS calls than structural fires. Incident response data gives you a lens to see how your department actually performs and how you need to adjust to perform even better.
Fire Departments aren't just concerned with emergency response. A big part of the job is focused on preventing emergencies through community risk reduction programs. This means doing structural inspections, maintaining community NFPA compliance, and even educational programs. You need to be able to collect and track data that informs your decisions. You could find that one area of your city has a much higher rate of fire emergencies, so you could respond by implementing educational programs and encouraging fire alarm installation. Maybe the busiest areas need more fire hydrants? Use your collected data to decide where your attention needs to go and how to solve problems before they turn into emergencies. You could store photos, videos, blueprints, or maps to help inform incident response plans. Risk reduction is about being proactive, and data is the best way to inform your decisions.
Health and Wellness
You can't respond to emergencies unless you have a team that is healthy enough both physically and mentally to do the job. You need to be collecting data about your firefighters to make sure the men and women in your fire department are taken care of. You can use this data to dictate how you schedule them, when they need time off, and even when they might need counseling after a high number of traumatic calls in a short amount of time. By collecting and analyzing data about your team, you can be proactive and preventative in their health to the best of your ability, and also reactive when things get out of hand.
Operational data encompasses a lot of different types of data collected from various different sources. Overall, operational data is the data that shows how your department runs as a whole, with every single moving part working together. There are going to be plenty of times that you need to show operational data in order to prove compliance, plan budget requests, meet reporting deadlines, or apply for grants. You need to collect as much data as you can from as many places as you can, but then you need a way to organize, sort, and analyze that data. Operational data is the lens by which you see the true impact of your department on the surrounding community.
Data is Valuable. Array Makes Data Powerful.
It can be overwhelming to have so much data available to you, just waiting to be collected and interpreted. Data is undeniably valuable, but without a tool to control and direct that information, it becomes worthless. Array not only makes collecting all your data incredibly easy, but it collates it, organizes it, makes it instantly accessible, helps you transfer it, and analyzes it so that you actually have control over your data and can make it worth something. In other words, Array doesn't just give you access to all your valuable data, but actually makes your data powerful in the way it can work for you. Read more about how Array can help Fire Departments in their inspections, but keep in mind that Array does more than just assist in inspections. Our mobile form platform can help you collect data from every area of your department, build out insightful reports that help inform your decisions, and connect seamlessly with your existing RMS to make sure you get the most out of your data.