With assignments clearly posted on their Digital Dashboards, crews at the McPherson, Kansas Fire Department are now always aware of their daily duties and training requirements.
“All of our personnel understand the expectations we have of them each day, and that pushes things forward,” says Chief TJ Wyssmann. Not only does it streamline the process of assigning duties, but it also takes the burden off leadership to keep reminding staff until the work gets done, “So it’s also alleviating that stress between admin and line personnel,” Wyssmann adds.
The McPherson Fire Department is a combination department serving a population of more than 14,000 in the city of McPherson, King City, McPherson Township, and part of New Gottland Township.
The department installed their dashboard system about a year ago based on advertising on social media, Wyssmann says, replacing a makeshift station board that was difficult to use. “It made that communication so much better,” he says, and solved their main goal of accountability.
It’s really easy, Wyssmann notes, for crews to get side tracked from their duties by the many calls they run. Now, when they get back to the station, they can easily see what tasks they still need to accomplish and get back to them. “Everybody’s much more fulfilled and they achieve their expectations, so I think it’s a win-win for both the administration and the line personnel,” Wyssmann says.
When assignments are past due, the names of those assigned pop up, and the team members hold each other accountable—so management doesn’t have to.
“It really promotes everybody getting everything done and we don’t have to hassle them,” Wyssmann says.
The dashboards have aided additional types of accountability as well, the chief adds.
One is the department’s responsibility to keep track of where their personnel are at all times, which had grown increasingly challenging as the combination department gets bigger. “Now it gets plastered up there, who’s in town or out of town, available for calls or unavailable,” Wyssmann says.
Another benefit has been accountability with equipment (TargetSolutions Check ItTM ), Wyssmann says, with the dashboards helping staff remember to enter all problems and stay on top of maintenance. This is particularly important for their volunteers, he adds, because it’s otherwise difficult for them to keep track of what equipment is in service or out of service. Now with a quick glance at the board, they can see what apparatus is out of service (red), has limited service (yellow) and what’s wrong with it, and what’s good to go (green).
“They feel comfortable when they come in, in a split second,” Wyssmann says, and can immediately make good decisions. “So that’s a huge feature and we really were attracted to that,” he says.
Furthermore, the dashboards help the department fulfill NFPA 1710 response standards and maintain their ISO rating, and even work to improve it, Wyssmann says.
And to top it off, implementation has been easy. “You don’t have to be a computer whiz to operate this platform,” he adds. Personnel of all ages have welcomed the system because it integrated their existing technology and required virtually no training. “Everybody has been really supportive of it,” he says.
The department was pretty much sold when they learned it could integrate Active 911 because they already had that, Wyssmann says. “The ability for your program to integrate with everything else was huge.”
They now have dashboards in staff offices, their day room, apparatus floor and training room. Additional features they use include the constant display of weather, turnout times, and hydrants showing on their map.
Wyssmann is currently watching how the system affects the department. There has been an uptick in turnout times, he says, and he’s collecting data on training compliance. He ultimately expects to share data with the community as part of an ongoing community risk reduction effort. His philosophy as chief, he says, is not to hide any problems, but to show them, and what the department is doing about them.
Looking forward, he will continue to evaluate the system’s impacts to consider new features.