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Digital Dashboards Eliminate Death-by-Email for South Adams County (CO) Fire Department

“Firefighters do not check their mail on their days off so a lot of what was being sent out was not retained.”

The South Adams County Fire Department started in 1942 as an all-volunteer fire department. Today they are a combination department of over 80 personnel consisting of career firefighters, reserve firefighters, and administrative staff. The department protects over 76 square miles of residential, commercial, and industrial properties, open land, and Colorado’s only oil refinery. They respond to over 9,000 calls a year out of eight fire stations. According to Kevin Kellar, IT Manager for the department, communication was a struggle.

“It was a death-by-email environment for us,” said Kevin. The department used individual and all-members email as the priority means of communication for everything from SOPs to birth announcements. “Firefighters do not check their mail on their days off so a lot of what was being sent out was not retained.”

Kevin said the department liked the First Arriving dashboards and initially thought they would be good for displaying information to the public when people came to the administration buildings, but they then decided the dashboards would benefit the firefighters more. South Adams has a total of 12 dashboards and is using Google Slides, Google Sheets, Weather, CrewSense, Target Solutions, Halligan, NFORS, Google Calendar, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram integrations.

“Our crews have loved it,” Kevin said when asked about the initial reactions. There is 25 staff in the headquarters, in their own offices, and they have the platform displayed in their offices through one unit in the building.

“It’s been huge. Most of our all-member email has gone down significantly,” Kevin added. Dashboards are showing road closures and hydrants out of service. The fire chief’s quarterly address is filmed and then loaded into the platform to run.

Turnout times are getting better, and they are considering a second display to go into the bays that will show the incident map and running route to calls as personnel get on the apparatus.

“These dashboards have been solid for us,” Kevin said as explained how the information that is constantly displayed has had a positive effect on training. Training information is tied to Target Solutions, and they can now see upcoming expiring certifications. “I don’t think we were fully aware of how behind we were on assignments.” In one month, the department dropped from years of backlog to approximately four days.

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