It is crucial for Fire Departments to track the assets it needs to efficiently respond to unpredictable medical and fire related emergencies. It also needs to track the people it helps save, treat and transport. This document provides insight to the challenges of these tasks as well as available solutions.
Typically fire rescue vehicles are inspected once per day. Inspections are done in order to verify that each piece of; fire-fighting and life-saving equipment is accounted for, and working (testing pumps, extending ladders, etc.). On average an inspection requires about an hour (30 minutes for the equipment check and another 30 minutes for testing).
With these inspections, complacency is a common problem; in the form of missing equipment that is not typically used, but when needed can prove to be helpful in an emergency. For example: a piercing or oscillating nozzle is not typically used at a structure fire, but at a car, trailer (mobile home) or cellar fire can prove to be the tool of choice. The inspecting Engineer might just check the compartments he/she typically uses and omit compartments where equipment is stored, but not often used. It is equally important to know that something is missing as soon as it goes missing, as this helps with tracing the item’s last whereabouts. If the inspecting engineer does not normally use any particular tool, he/she could easily overlook the fact that it is missing. This is where an RFID tag system becomes invaluable to confirm that all the equipment that is supposed to be on the apparatus is accounted for.
Common items that become misplaced can be many; tools (Halligan, sledge hammers, pry bars, saws, etc.), appliances (hose clamps, gated wyes, couplings, etc.), as well as much more expensive items. In one case a thermal imager went missing for a month and the department was unable to locate it. Apparently, at a fire scene, someone inadvertently placed it in the controlled drug locker on one of the Rescue trucks. During the daily routine inspections no one checked that particular locker, so the imager turned up missing. When asked, everyone said they checked their particular vehicles, but did not find it. The result was the department had to purchase another Thermal Imager at a cost of $5000!
An RFID system will provide reliable verification that each and every Engineer has thoroughly checked his/her vehicle and all of the equipment issued to that particular apparatus is present. If the equipment is not there, the system automatically detects this fact. Using a mobile RFID reader this inspection can be reduced (on average) to 10 minutes. Missing items can be located using the back-end database and make simple arrangements to retrieve it from the apparatus that accidently picked it up at a fire, extrication or other emergency.
Transparency and accountability are crucial towards; applying for and receiving grants, sustaining audit in regards to how a grant was used, and towards the ability to meet ISO requirements. This in-turn helps achieve and sustain Class ratings, which in-turn solidifies businesses in a city with lower insurance rates.
In addition to the automated vehicle checking, the Lockwood systems address how each and every item is purchased (general fund, grants, donations, etc.), and is used to track supplies more effectively; which in-turn restricts waste, duplicated purchases, validates incoming items to purchase orders and so on.
The Lockwood Mobile Information Systems, most notably the Smart Tracker – can be deployed to track patients in an emergency – and to conduct a variety of field activities such hydrant inspection and maintenance.