Home » Real, Actionable Information In Firefighter’s Hands At Times Of Emergency

We all know the leader’s intent of the Fire Chief is to minimize cost while maximizing the safety of department personnel and the public, and proper fire pre-planning and inspections are the right things to do in order to meet that intent. Further, with the right mobile technology, a fire department doesn’t have to resort to adding man-hours to meet a department’s fire prevention goals — quite the opposite, they can double their output and get the clearest view of their city, in minutes.


The Traditional pre-incident & inspection planning process was cumbersome, time-consuming, and unreliable – so much so that many Fire Departments have struggled to meet the standard.

You’re already aware that Fire Departments should aim to collect the minimum informational requirements for pre-plans, as outlined in the NFPA 1620 Standard for Pre-Incident Planning. However, the traditional pre-incident planning process was cumbersome, time-consuming, and unreliable – so much so that many Fire Departments have traditionally struggled to meet the standard. Further, those who were lucky enough to try out other fire department software with claims of it “being easy” quickly learned that it wasn’t, and that information was a pain to resurface or remove if needed. As a result of not being able to meet these standards, many Incident Commanders and firefighters do not have the information they need. The most effective tool in an Incident Commander’s arsenal is an up-to-date, site-specific pre-incident plan that could save lives — and they do not have it.

Imagine there’s a new addition on a building, in that case, you don’t just have to update your pdf, sync to your server, and then sync to your truck. You also have to go to multiple fire halls and hand-deliver the new printouts. Then you need to destroy the old ones. That became very onerous.

Aaron Clements

Captain Of Fire Prevention, West Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services

The Older (Paper & Pen) Way

If you’re still using paper and pen to fill out pre-incident plans and inspections, you’re not completely alone (although that group is quickly shrinking.) Paper pre-incident plans are a pain to fill out, take up valuable time, and often get lost in the back of trucks. Even if they are filed, they are next to impossible to quickly find in an emergency. 

The Old (Legacy Software) Way

Most record management systems that hold pre-incident plan and inspection information require time-consuming and repetitive data entry at the station. Users often have password and access issues, and accessing this data usually doesn’t yield very good results anyway thanks to long loading times in situations where seconds count. Further, we’ve heard horror stories of information not being accessible if phones and tablets are off-line, and it being extremely difficult to retrieve your information and integrate with other tools you already use. How is any of this effective in an organizational plan for fire prevention?

Is Your Fire Department Using The Latest & Best Mobile Technology?


This all means one thing: If you’re not getting the essential data to help make decisions and optimize your operations —with the most updated and best available software — you’re falling behind. This jeopardizes your response effectiveness and potentially the lives of your community members and firefighters. Further, you’re costing your team valuable time that can be used in more effective ways and leaving municipal funds on the table.

It now takes less than twenty minutes to digitally capture and catalog the hundreds of details required to pre-plan and inspect an entire property.

Luckily, capturing the right data in the field is far less time-consuming and more effective than ever before. Imagine being able to complete a comprehensive pre-plan in roughly 20 minutes with your smartphone — well you don’t have to imagine, because it’s a possibility. By using the right software and a smartphone or tablet, it now takes less than twenty minutes to digitally capture and catalog the hundreds of details required to pre-plan and inspect an entire commercial property. These pre-plans and inspections can be instantly accessed in seconds by your team and shared instantly with other first responders during mutual-aid or auto-aid calls.

The best mobile pre-incident, inspection & investigation software

  • makes it faster and easier to create, update, store, and access digital records.
  • integrates with tools you are already using, easily with no work from your end.
  • eliminates duplication of work by leveraging information common to both fire inspections, investigations, and pre-plans.
  • provides a visual, interactive layout, so it’s easy to find the information required in seconds.
    is instantly accessible on any tablet or mobile phone, to all emergency vehicles, Incident Commanders, and all first responders, the moment it’s created. A shared document ensures no one is working with outdated information.

The Monterey Fire Department, for example, used to take up to 12 hours using legacy methods to complete or update tactical pre-incident plans of buildings and sites in its jurisdiction. But after implementing the latest mobile application for pre-planning, the same process now takes around 20  minutes from start to finish — while also yielding far better and more consistent information. The department has seen a 20-per-cent cost savings while also achieving its annual pre-plan targets: a win-win.

At the end of the day, we’re all looking to protect our communities and our firefighters. And there’s no question the effective use of information can help us do that better than ever before. With current mobile software available it has never been easier to increase your department’s output, while keeping your community safer, and staying within your budget.

About the author: Paul Martin is the founder of www.apxdata.com – first to introduce smart mobile capabilities to Fire Departments meeting ISO, NFPA, FUS & State requirements.

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