Communication & collaboration – a data driven approach

Communication & collaboration – a data driven approach

Aaron Johnson,  International Fire Strategist and jill cotton, a web-technology specialist and communications director at (IROL) examine the concept of web-based reporting technologies and its benefits, issues, concerns and the implementation of these systems.  

There’s no doubt the activities put in place by our fire services has assisted in helping prevent fire and other emergencies from occurring. Even in the past five to ten years overall codes have strengthened and continue to do so, our education across all levels has increased, and we’ve seen the growth in firefighter equipment and training. These gains have also brought about an increase in a fire department’s roles and responsibilities.

It’s no longer just about fighting fires.

While our prevention efforts are necessary and have brought much success, the fact is we’re still seeing the headlines regarding large and deadly fires. Between the increase in activities and decrease in human and tangible resources, the fire service is in the middle of an organisational shift; no longer are communities accepting the risk of deadly fires, which could be greatly reduced or avoided altogether.

Prevention is now heading in a new direction and we’re driving the concept of Community Risk Reduction (CRR).

Identifying actions & services

While the name seems obvious, Community Risk Reduction actual entails a data driven approach to help identify actions and services used by a community to prevent loss of lives and property damage. These efforts include building collaborative partnerships with the key stakeholders across our entire community and finding the common threads in which information, communication and response are easier, more efficient, and benefit all entities involved.

We know fire and life safety is a shared responsibility; especially between the fire department and building/property owners. These two entities have been seeking ways to connect and engage and until now, the technology hasn’t been available allowing obtainable information and direct communication.

A wider perspective 

Now, more than ever, the reliance on external data and information is necessary for our fire organisations to gain a wider perspective of the hidden threats within our communities. With the shift towards CRR, organisations are leaning towards modern technology and implementing web-based programs which are connecting and engaging the three key players in prevention and risk reduction: Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), Service Providers/Inspection Companies and Building/Property Owners.

Web-based technology has found a common thread linking the three entities involved in our efforts – inspections. Whether it’s fire department inspections or the receiving of fire and life safety system Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance (ITM) documentation, technology is contributing to both prevention and risk reduction efforts.

There are four key features in which the use of modern, web-based technology is increasing both prevention and CRR efforts:

  • Facilitates direct Communication, Collaboration and Response
  • Increases Records Management
  • Provides Notifications assisting in Awareness and Education
  • Increases Analytics helping build Sustainable Prevention and Business Models

Communication between stakeholders

Web-based systems provide direct and real-time communication. Information can be shared instantly. There is no longer a need to wait to do the inspection, go to the office, and submit or mail reports. Inspections can be conducted and the deficiency
report made immediately available to the building owner, AHJ, or other parties.

This is a great tool for local authorities and fire protection service providers for obtaining increased compliance and ensuring the readiness of fire and life safety systems. Web-based applications also provide a means of tracking all communications related to a specific occupancy and their inspections.

Having a better understanding of what’s going on regarding our systems and being able to communicate and build a history of our interactions allows us to determine what our response, if any, needs to be.

Management system

Utilising a web-based program provides quick retrieval of information and data needed by the end user. Details regarding an occupant, status of a system, complete history, upcoming or past-due inspections, or more, are all obtainable at your fingertips. In addition, these programs lessen our in-house IT infrastructures. Many web solutions provide secure data and hosting capabilities while also maintaining enhancements and upgrades.

Assisting in awareness and response

Part of our goals in the fire service is to increase the lines of communication and build better awareness and education for all entities.

Web-based technology can now take away the excuse of property owners that they will get their systems repaired “whenever the fire official tells them too”, or the excuse that “they forgot”. The best software programs provide a system or process that will simultaneously notify the building owner and the AHJ of any system deficiencies or critical impairments. These entities can also be notified of upcoming or past due inspections.

Taking it one step further, these notifications can be customised to help fire departments educate the owners as to what their responsibility is in regards to fire systems.

Gathering and analysis

As stated earlier, the reliance on data is a necessary part of building sustainable prevention and business models. The core backbone of community risk reduction and fire prevention programs is data and analytics.

The community wants to see the data as proof of an effective program and the fire department needs to show the data to secure necessary funding or an increase for insurance rating.

As inspections and communications are documented within the web-based software solution this data can be customised and retrieved as needed. Having easy and efficient access to information through web-based applications can assist in prioritising where fire prevention efforts would be best spent.

Prevention and risk reduction efforts are an important process in our community.

Web-based solutions provide the capability of not only increasing awareness and education, but also facilitating communication and increasing overall compliance. Technology in fire prevention is successfully tackling the challenge of efficiently and effectively maintaining safer communities with sustainable prevention and risk reduction models.

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