Tracking Challenges in Fire Department Asset Management

The Problem

If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that we take certain services for granted until a catastrophe hits. One of these is the service provided by our fire departments: firefighters work to save lives across the country every day. But regardless of city size or volunteer status, fire departments in the US are almost always underfunded and underequipped. Firefighting assets are the tools fire departments need to save lives, both of victims and firefighters. This is why measures are necessary to maximize the ROI (Return on Investment) on essential firefighting equipment and solve many tracking challenges.

The Facts

Each fire station relies on an arsenal of specially upgraded trucks, pumps, rescue tools, PPE, and breathing equipment, which can cost a fortune to purchase and maintain. The total cost of a single firefighter’s complete worn gear can be over $7,000, consisting of turnout gear (a complete protective outfit) and breathing equipment (which includes an SCBA). In the field, firefighters often employ a hydraulic rescue tool, also known as the Jaws of Life, used to cut open vehicles can set a fire department back more than $10,000. The price of a firefighting fleet can be exceptionally high. To equip a fire engine costs $100,000-$150,000, and the pumper engine can cost $550,000. A single ladder truck sometimes costs up to 1.1-1.6 million dollars. Fire departments in small towns can save for decades to buy one new truck. And the costs just keep rising. It doesn’t stop there: the costs to maintain this life-saving equipment are surprisingly high. For instance, each firefighter’s air packs needed to breathe in a burning building can cost anywhere between $5,500 and $7,000. Air packs have to be replaced every ten years and require yearly maintenance, which is $160 per test. Some stations simply have to forgo testing them due to budgeting concerns, potentially making rescue calls more dangerous.

The Solution

The situation can look bleak, and tracking challenges continue to rise; however, fire departments and city leaders are looking to resourceful solutions like Enterprise Asset Management and automated inventory tracking to extend the lifespan of their assets and increase their return on investment. Implementing an asset management solution with IoT technology gives fire department chiefs real-time information, down to the asset level, on:
  • Warranty dates (to know when maintenance is next required, potentially allowing for staggered maintenance schedules to make them more manageable)
  • Wear-and-tear (mileage, etc.)
  • Where items and equipment are, to prevent loss at the sites of calls
Knowing that firefighting assets are performing as long as they can and less likely to fail on the job means more peace of mind when a call for help comes in. Sources:

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