7 Features In Fire Inspection & Pre-Planning Software
Whether your fire agency has a dedicated fire inspector, or the task falls to a combination of staff and field personnel, inspection and pre-planning is an important and necessary part of fire service. While it may not be the most exciting or glamorous duty to undertake, doing it properly offers numerous benefits to both the department and its community – perhaps the most important being making it easier to fight a fire at an inspected location, thanks to collected data on potential fuel sources, on-site chemicals, and other potential hazards.
Additionally, some states and cities require certain sites to receive inspections on a regular basis, helping ensure that communities remain as fire-safe as possible, but consequentially also raising public aware of overall fire safety precautions and potential dangers on their properties. Finally, some cities also utilize the fees from fire inspections to help fund the fire service, making inspections valuable financially as well.
So, since the importance of fire inspections and pre-planning is established (and most likely required) for your department, is there a way to make it more efficient – both on-site in gathering information, and off-site in accessing and sharing the data as required? The good news is that today’s technology – specifically portable data collection software – makes it easier than ever to gather, store, share, and access important information. But how can ensure that you have the best inspection software for your needs? Below is a checklist of 7 most helpful features to look for in your inspection and pre-planning solution.
1. Configurable Checklists: It’s no secret that every fire agency has its own way of doing things based on its own needs and internal processes. Being able to define and edit your own inspection checklist ensures that your inspectors do not miss a thing, regardless of whether they are new to the job or seasoned pros. Additionally, agency-defined checklists can be created once and used across multiple inspection types.
2. Expansive Code Library: Your inspection software should offer a seemingly endless supply of fire codes, and also offer the ability to add your own. Additionally, code sets should be searchable within the platform and allow you to complete a variety of inspection types.
3. Accessible Historical Data: Being able to access historical data on an inspection site can be an important element in understanding a site fully; information on previous occupants provides insight on what types of businesses were in that location prior to the current inspection, as well as what type of violations may have occurred there. For liability reasons, your software should also retain data on historical chemical and fire codes that existed when past reports were developed, in the event that code numbers were changed at a later date.
4. CAMEO and NFIRS Integration: Since pre-planning and inspections are only a portion of the services that fire agencies provide, pre-planning and inspection software should not operate independently of other essential fire agency software. Inspectors should be able to easily look up chemicals in CAMEO and then track them according to industry standards. This extra information could make the difference when it comes to keep firefighters safe during an emergency.
5. Easy-to-Use Interface: It may seem like a given but ensuring that your inspection software is truly user friendly can affect the efficiency – and job satisfaction – of your inspectors and field staff. Today’s top inspection software walks users through an inspection in a step-by-step process and offers a common-sense workflow. Features like being able to sort and filter properties make inspections more efficient as well.
6. Scheduling Features: Flexible scheduling capabilities – including the ability to schedule re-inspections onsite or even schedule an inspection over multiple days – can save your staff hours of headaches, emails, and phone calls. Inspectors should be able to verify and update contact information within the system while onsite.
7. Photo and Print Capabilities: Whether you a capturing an image of a violation, documenting the layout or locations of a property, or even snapping a shot of a signature, it’s extremely helpful to be able to add attachments and photos – with notes –to the property record. Inspectors should also be able to easily record signatures and print the inspection report onsite, or even immediately email the report to property managers and owners. Capturing key information when it is convenient is imperative to making the most of your resources.
Taking advantage of today’s technology to make your inspections and pre-planning more efficient and effective can mean not only fewer on-the-job headaches, but – more importantly – better-informed decision making when emergencies arise. This means improved safety for not only the community, but for the firefighters working to protect it as well.