Fire Data: Having an RMS Isn't Enough

5 min read
Jan 14, 2021 9:53:05 AM

Your fire department likely has a Record Management System (RMS). But it probably isn’t giving you the insights you need. This article explains why a standalone RMS isn’t enough, and why using a mySidewalk Fire Performance Dashboard as an RMS add-on will help you save more lives. 

What to Look for In a Good Record Management System

Before we can get down to why you need more than just an RMS, let’s spell out what a Record Management System is exactly, and what a good one should do for you.  

Fire departments use RMS software to enter and house their electronic records. Such as incident reports, training hours, scheduling, and more. An RMS is a necessary investment for most fire departments to manage their data effectively, data they're often legally required to track.

Some fire departments create their own RMS, and some purchase a ready-made solution. In either case, they’re often integrated with the CAD reports from their Dispatch centers, including linking the timestamp information from Dispatch to the completed incident reports in the fire department.

Fire Data Having an RMS Isn't Enough RMS Process

Regardless of the type of RMS you use, it should provide the following. 

  • Easy access to the data in raw format in a CSV or Excel file type. Your data belongs to you. Therefore access should be unrestricted (the best is facilitated, easy access.) Regardless of any additional analytics or reporting tools (like mySidewalk), you will always need a tool for getting your raw data.
  • Robust validation of incident reports. I.e., the system will prompt the user to complete specific fields based on the call type. Your RMS should also help your users understand what they need to add to reports to achieve better data quality.
  • Integration with Dispatch’s CAD to ensure timestamps capture is automatic, rather than requiring someone to enter them manually.
  • Anytime a field can be automatically entered rather than keyed by a person, it increases the data quality. Saving time and reducing human error. For example, pushing a button on an MDT to show a unit is en-route is always cleaner than typing a timestamp into a record. 

Why a Record Management System Alone Isn’t Enough

Fire Data_Having an RMS Isn't Enough Springdale Dashboard mySidewalk

So yes, every fire department needs a sound RMS system to capture data and comply with regulations. The problem is, an RMS alone isn’t enough, because fire leaders need more than a pile of raw, out-of-context data

You need something that helps you use, understand, and leverage that data. 

The mySidewalk Fire Performance Dashboard is not an RMS provider – we do not house records. Instead, our solution uses those records to do complex data science analysis – so you don’t have to. With other reporting tools, you must: 

  1. Run a query
  2. Find the data you need
  3. Put the information into spreadsheets
  4. Then perform analysis on that spreadsheet
  5. Then you have to work on visualizing it and creating a report

 And after all of that, you’re left with a static PDF that will soon be outdated. 

You can get more out of the data you’re already capturing. Fire departments switch from other reporting tools because mySidewalk does more than just regurgitate counts of records. They choose mySidewalk because our data gives them the insights they need. You get sophisticated analytics without any extra math or wrangling work.

In fact, we want your data as raw as possible when exported from your RMS. You don’t have to make any cleaning or adjustments. We account for cleaning in the process, ensuring it’s done the same way, every time. Repeatability is crucial to make sure that the analysis is comparable. If the cleaning process changed, the analysis can’t be compared to the previous analysis. Not to mention, it makes your job a whole lot easier. 

Your team has more important work to do than editing spreadsheets. Our Fire Performance Dashboard does that heavy lifting analysis for you, and it automatically updates. You get a beautiful new report full of insights each month. Plus, you can share dashboards with as many or as few stakeholders as you like. 

For example, here’s a quick video overview of our partner, the Springdale Fire Department, Performance Dashboard.  

mySidewalk Springdale Performance Dashboard Overview Video

Check out Springdale’s Dashboard.

Fire Performance Dashboard + RMS Helps You Save More Lives

If you're interested in using the best fire data to get to emergencies faster and save more lives, we can help.

Having an RMS Isn't Enough RMS vs mySidewalk Fire Data

Download the PDF overview here

Get more out of the data you already have.

  • Free up your staff to focus on their real jobs instead of wasting hours analyzing data and building reports.
  • Automatic insights are delivered each month.
  • Access highly accurate geofenced response performance data. We remove response times to areas outside of your department’s jurisdiction to avoid inaccurately high travel times. (While you might provide mutual aid to nearby departments, you don’t want those longer travel times muddying the analysis of understanding travel times in your coverage area.)
  • Customized apparatus-based response performance. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to track the turnout time of a unit, such as a cross-staffed unit. But that same unit could still be important for Effective Response Force. We work with our partners to determine which units to include in which analytics.
  • Tailored Effective Response Force analysis. A powerful metric to understand how long it takes to assemble the required units to handle specific incidents. We work with all our partners to understand their deployment models and ERF to create this analysis. (Check out our ERF webinar here.)
  • Helpful Mapping – easy-to-understand maps with clear answers to your important questions. So simple you won’t need a GIS specialist to interpret: 
    • Where are incidents?
    • What’s our travel time across the system of our fire department?
    • Where are units from specific stations going? And what kinds of calls are they going there for?
    • How long does it take units from each station to get to different areas?

Bottom line, a mySidewalk Fire Performance dashboard will take your RMS to the next level and give you the intel you need to get to emergencies faster. As our partner, the Chief of the Glendale Fire Department, put it:

"My goal is to leave this department better than I found it. mySidewalk has been a key part of that process and has empowered me to change the culture and improve turnout times. When we see that turnout time is decreasing, that means our productivity is increasing, and we’re trending positively.”
- Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas Glendale Fire Department. (Read Glendale’s story.)

See it for yourself.

Let's connect and schedule a demo, so you can see what better fire data analytics looks like firsthand.

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Meanwhile, here's a Fire Performance Dashboard example.

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