Are Paper Workflows Costing Your Fire Department?

Did you know that more than 65% of fire departments across the US still rely on manual processes for crucial tasks like vehicle inspections and equipment checks? While paper forms offer a sense of familiarity and may seem convenient, they come with a hidden cost that can significantly have a negative impact on your department’s effectiveness and budget.

Imagine this scenario: A fire alarm goes off, adrenaline kicks in, and your team springs into action. But as you rush to the firetruck, a nagging worry persists— is everything in working order? Are there any crucial equipment malfunctions you might have missed during the last inspection?

This is where the importance of adopting modern technology comes in. In emergency services, relying on paper checklists and clunky systems can pose a significant risk to firefighter safety and operational efficiency, where every second counts. By utilizing inventory tracking program, you can ensure your equipment always functions at its best, and your team is confident in their readiness.


Hidden Costs of Manual Workflows

Manual workflows in fire departments come with many hidden costs that impact efficiency and effectiveness. Let’s consider one of the cost implications of manual processes. Firefighter schedules are anything but typical. Unlike a standard 9-to-5 job, firefighters often work extended shifts in rotations like 12 or 24 hours, with additional scheduling nuances. To provide a simple estimate for hidden costs related to administrative manual tasks, let’s assume a firefighter works a standard 40-hour workweek for this example—a very conservative number.

Consider a fire department with 20 firefighters, each devoting approximately an hour per week to paperwork. Over the course of a year, this amounts to 1,040 hours lost to administrative duties.

When you take into account the average annual salary for firefighters nationwide, which stands at $56,310, you’ll find that this results in a substantial $28,035 annually* spent solely on paperwork inefficiencies.

*Calculation for a 40-hour workweek, the effective hourly rate would be $56,310 / 52 weeks/year / 40 hours/week = $27.08 per hour, approximately. Using this hourly rate, the total cost of wasted hours due to paperwork becomes 1,040 hours * $27.08 per hour = $28,035.20, approximately.

It’s essential to note that this estimate doesn’t include additional expenses such as printing, storing, and rectifying errors in paper records. Manual processes introduce a host of other risks and extend costs beyond mere dollars and cents.


Other Sources of Risks & Costs

Manual workflows in fire departments incur significant hidden costs that extend beyond financial implications. Considering the administrative burden in a typical department, hours are lost annually to paperwork, resulting in wasted time and resources. Moreover, manual processes introduce risks such as data inaccuracies, communication bottlenecks, compliance challenges, and lost productivity.

This is especially true for controlled substance handling, which is why narcotics tracking software allows departments to digitally track their inventory for easy use management and restocking.

Although some processes can be difficult to quantify, collectively, they hinder operational efficiencies such as:

Time & Efficiency

  • Locating misplaced information, deciphering illegible handwriting, email searches, manually re-entering data, and the need for multiple firefighters to be involved in the same task, such as equipment checks, waste valuable time that could be better spent on core firefighting activities

Data & Decision Making

  • Manual methods are prone to human errors. Misreading a gauge or missing a crucial detail during an inspection can have serious consequences. Paper trails make it difficult to map and locate errors quickly, especially when decisions are needed immediately.

Accountability & Transparency

  • In a paper-based system, task ownership is unclear, so it’s easy to get stuck in a blame game when something goes wrong, which can decrease morale. Advanced digital tools remedy misinformation and keep accountability transparent with a digital trial.

Compliance & Regulations

  • Manual records are difficult to track and audit, potentially leading to compliance issues with regulations or safety standards. Investing in modern solutions can ensure a transparent and auditable record of all inspections and maintenance activities.

Communication & Response

  • If different firehouses rely on separate paper protocols and systems, communication breakdowns will occur. A central hub for all your data ensures everyone has the information to respond effectively.

Demotivating Frontlines

  • Firefighters shouldn’t waste time searching for misplaced documentation, struggling with illegible handwriting, or searching emails for critical data. Streamlining processes helps reduce frustration, allowing your crew to focus on what matters most – safer readiness and protecting lives.

Community Demands

  • The hidden costs of sticking to manual processes can seriously impact a fire department’s ability to serve the community. Delays, errors, and inefficiencies can erode public trust in the department and hinder operational effectiveness. With increasing demands placed on fire departments today, ranging from medical emergencies to natural disasters, they need effective methods to handle all areas of emergency response.


Benefits of Technology & Automation

Despite challenges, there’s room for improvement. Imagine a fire department where tasks are streamlined, data is accurate and easily accessible, and compliance is simple. This is the promise of modern technology, led by PSTrax.

Safety is paramount in emergency services. Modern technology enhances safety by drastically improving real-time inspections and accurate data collection through scheduled checks, automated reports, and easily followed chains of accountability. Regular, thorough inspections catch problems early, reducing downtime and extending equipment life.

PSTrax offers a comprehensive set of features to optimize checks and inventory management, increasing operational efficiency and saving costs. By replacing error-prone paper checklists with digital forms accessible from any device, real-time updates ensure everyone has the latest information. Features like pre-populated fields and drop-down menus minimize human error, while seamless communication ensures everyone knows about critical equipment issues.


Remove Hidden Costs with PSTrax!

Efficiency is critical in emergency response. By embracing innovation, fire departments can streamline operations and improve overall effectiveness. With PSTrax, fire departments can enhance communication, increase accountability, protect their crew, and better serve their community.


Remove hidden costs—switch to modern technology for operational efficiency with PSTrax. Request a demo of PSTrax today.