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Digitization Helps Ohio Fire Department Save on Costs

The Parma, Ohio, Fire Department’s transition to an all-digital operation became official late last year with Fire Chief Michael Lasky touting a more than $10,000 annual savings for the city.

The closed garage doors of a fire station.
(TNS) — The Parma Fire Department’s transition to an all-digital operation became official late last year with Fire Chief  Michael Lasky  touting a more than $10,000 annual savings for the city.

“It’s been on our radar for five years,” Lasky said. “We made the jump because the city backed us 100 percent by switching over to iPads. Previously, everything that we did — time sheets, medical runs, fire runs, billing information, run reports — was done on paper. Now it’s done by the computer.

“Each vehicle has an iPad. Each station has been upgraded computer-wise and with WiFi. So when they’re doing a run, everything is on the computer. Then as soon as they get back to the station, they send it off. We also file all of our state of Ohio paperwork now online.”

A perfect example of the Parma Fire Department’s antiquated system involved purchase orders, where previously requests sent to the city took upwards of a week to be approved. Now that process has been reduced to hours.

For nearly a quarter of a century, the Parma Fire Department was spending $6,500 annually to use an antiquated fire reporting system FIREHOUSE Software, which didn’t include inspections.

Now with the web-based Emergency Reporting the cost is $5,000 a year, which is not only good for a $1,500 savings. That’s also the estimated savings from eliminating the fire department’s inspector form printing costs.

While the initial transition included expected bugs, the fire chief the operation is now smooth with the technology-upgrade cost tied to the elimination of a fire department position.

Another area where the Parma Fire Department has entered the 21st century involves its ongoing training and communication needs. Using $2,500 in donations, Lasky recently purchased five 65-inch monitors for each fire station.

“Each monitor has a camera, so we’re holding classes with all five stations at the same time,” Lasky said. “It’s kind of like a Zoom meeting but it’s more secure.

“So instead of having guys get in vehicles and driving to the training center, we’re keeping everybody at their station. We’re saving on fuel, wear and tear of their vehicles and time.”

The Parma Fire Department’s conversion to virtual meetings should be completed in the new couple of weeks.

“We’re enhancing the efficiency of the fire department by going with technology to provide better service to our residents,” Lasky said. “By keeping us in our district for training, we’re not delaying our response to a resident in a time of need.”

(c)2021 The Plain Dealer, Cleveland. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.