In the previous article, we talked about a three-stage system volunteer fire stations can use to prevent understaffing and to provide a reliable, timely response to incidents.
The first of these stages is Planning Ahead. The need for this may sound obvious, but many volunteer fire stations don’t schedule the availability of their crew, and rely on paging all volunteers during emergencies. Some others use basic planning that allow fire chiefs to see available who is available on a certain day, at a certain time. But knowing who is available is not enough. What is often missing is a simple way of knowing whether there is enough crew available in the upcoming days.
Using pen and paper or spreadsheets to establish a roster demands too much time to set up and, depending of the size of the crew, can be quite complex to schedule each individual into a 24/7 calendar and verify there are enough to crew the appliance. In addition, these systems often do not consider dynamic roster changes. And if they do, they require a single person in charge of scheduling to manually input these inevitable changes. When this happens, it might be too late to alert off-duty personnel and the station is at risk of facing understaffing at the time of an emergency call.
All too often, many things will happen between creating the schedule and an emergency call. On-duty personnel could be too far away from the station, in an unplanned business meeting, or they may not have even heard the pager. What is needed is a system that allows personnel to update their availability at any time, and gives them insight into the crewing status of their fire station.
Enter FireServiceRota's color coded warnings. These resource availability warnings are one of FireServiceRota’s unique features. By keeping track of real-time crew availability, all personnel can see how many people, and with which skills, are available. At any time.
How does it work?When you set up the station’s resource availability check (you can do this in less than 5 minutes), you will determine how many people, and their required skills must be available at all times. Let’s say you need a Commander, a Driver and four firefighters to operate an appliance (apparatus). This is only an example; you can always add more skills and positions according to your station’s specific needs.
FireServiceRota also takes into consideration that one person can’t be in multiple roles at once during an incident. For example, in The Netherlands, a commander cannot simultaneously be the driver. This is because the commander needs to be able to prepare while driving to the scene of the incident. You can use the mutually exclusive skills feature to make sure that all positions are covered by different people if needed. This is how you set this up:
Once everything is set, FireServiceRota will continuously monitor crew availability and notify crew when (imminent) understaffing occurs. This is displayed in the app, on the website, on a (big) monitor in the fire station, and can even be received on pagers and via SMS.You will be able to see in your dashboard the status of availability in advance and plan accordingly. Since personnel schedule their own availability with the touch of a button, you and your crew always know in advance that there are enough people ready to respond.
The color coded warnings are shown for the upcoming week (but you can look further into the future), for the periods understaffing is imminent. This way, everyone can plan ahead and take action to resolve problems before they threaten the station's ability to respond. In upcoming articles, we will be reviewing some of FireServiceRota’s other main features. If you’re interested, subscribe to our blog to get notifications when a new article is available. In the meantime, you can also request a demo and experience for yourself how FireServiceRota can benefit your station.