Technology has greatly improved how firefighters and emergency response teams approach and respond to emergencies. Responders no longer need to rely on potentially outdated fire pre-plans stored in binders. The age of data mobility combined with a fire pre-plan system enables responders to gather real-time scenarios details, facility photos, floor plans, and critical, on-site hazardous material information within seconds from any location. A timely response, in conjunction with accurate and relevant site-specific information, will have an enormous effect on the outcome of an emergency scenario and potentially minimize impacts to responders and employees, infrastructure, and the environment.
Although some may resist the concept of web based fire pre-plans, paper-based and document style plans present the antiquated challenge of outdated information, “version confusion”, and cumbersome accessibility. Combining database technology and fire pre-planning enables emergency managers to optimize response capabilities and efficiency, as well as maximize budgets and regulatory compliance.
The purpose of pre-fire plans is to ensure a coordinated, expedient, and safe response in the event of a fire. A web-based format elevates the implementation these principles and provides the following benefits to responders and firefighters.
Accessibility of plans: Systems with 24/7 web-based access offer immediate critical details that can be extremely beneficial to decision makers. The commonality web-based devices enables emergency managers, on-site responders, as well as approved stakeholders at any location to evaluate the scenario and real-time pre-plan information in order to stage an effective and timely response.
In the event of a fire emergency, updated paper plans and binders may not available from all company locations. Additionally, accessing plans housed on a company intranet may be dubious if an incident renders company servers inaccessible. Although the intranet approach has improved overall plan accessibility, a number of significant time-consuming challenges remain including plan maintenance, version control, and consistency across multiple plans.
Efficiency: The most advanced web-based fire pre-planning software utilizes a database, allowing for specific repetitive information to be duplicated and streamlined across multiple plans and plan types. As a result, maintaining up-to-date and actionable response plans amongst changing personnel, fluctuating external response contacts, and revolving equipment availability minimizes administrative efforts and dedicated time. Required changes and repetitive, identical edits are more likely to be transferred into the system if administrative tasks are minimized, optimizing the accuracy of the plans and improving the likelihood of an effective response if an incident were to occur.
Real-time updates: Web-based software allows responders to apply the most up-to-date information and tested processes while eliminating antiquated information and “version confusion” of the past. Both paper-based plans and those housed on a company intranet are often out of date with multiple versions in various locations, potentially misinforming response teams.
Superior functionality: Web-based fire pre-plans can provide simplified interfaces and tools such as webcam access, hyperlinks, forms libraries designed to improve functionality for plan users. Simplifying the user interfaces and documentation process during an incident enables prompt response progress, improved regulatory compliance, and a more accurate account of the response.
Multi-purpose data: Specific firefighting information, such as construction details, hydrant, and utility valve locations may be useful to responders when highlighted in a stand-alone format. However, the information listed in a fire pre-plan, such as floor plan(s) and details of on-site hazardous material(s), may also be required by multiple agencies (OSHA, DOT, EPA, USCG) as part of an overall emergency response plan. Web-based, database driven fire pre-plan information can be streamlined and shared with additional plan types under the same umbrella system including emergency or facility response plans, business continuity, hurricane plans, and others.