New Brunswick

Saint John firefighters update records system, add peace-of-mind feature for residents

Saint John council approved an agreement with Locality Media, a U.S. based software company, for a new records management software called First Due.

Department will follow Moncton in moving to cloud-based platform

Saint John city council approved the subscription for a new records management service during Monday night's meeting. (Lane Harrison/CBC)

The Saint John Fire Department is modernizing its records management process by taking it to the cloud. 

City council has approved an agreement for a subscription to First Due, a cloud-based records management system developed by Locality Media, Inc., a New York-based software company.

The approval is for a year-long subscription that will automatically renew for a total of five years. The total cost across five years will be $230,050, with the first year costing $41,600.

The software will provide a range of services in one user-friendly platform that were previously spread across multiple systems. 

A one-stop system 

"Saint John fire has really been working from a number of really legacy or older systems, some as old as 20 years old, that just didn't have the ability to talk to each other," said Leah Robichaud, manager, analytics, risk and support for the fire department. 

This disconnect made it difficult for the department to create reports and metrics, Robichaud said. 

"This new solution will really provide kind of a one stop for everyone within the department, and just pull all of those key pieces of information together," she said. 

In one platform, First Due offers pre-incident planning, fire prevention inspections, fire incident reporting, medical reporting from the field, vehicle and personnel tracking, asset and inventory management, personnel scheduling and community engagement, among other services.

Robichaud expects the department to have some of First Due's modules up and running in the next three to six months. 

Residents can plug in details

The software is not just for the fire department's use.

"There's also an exciting section called Community Connect, that actually allows individuals and businesses to go in and report on key information for their particular address," Robichaud said. 

Using this function, residents can share information such as the number of pets in the house, hazards on site, or if there are individuals with special needs living in the home.

Currently, the department primarily receives information about particular buildings after conducting individual inspections, Robichaud said.

But firefighters wouldn't have this information at their fingertips when responding to an emergency. With First Due, she said, responders would be able to access that information from any mobile device. 

'A really easy, easy platform'

"So en route, the incident commander will be able to see the particular address that they're responding to and see if any information has been included for that particular address," she said.

This aspect of the software will be valuable to internal operations and the community, Robichaud said. 

"Just to give [the community] peace of mind that you're able to provide that information to the department [on] a really easy, easy platform." 

Robichaud said Saint John isn't the only place where fire departments are modernizing. 

"Fire departments don't always have that kind of technology focus," said Robichaud.

"But I think it's becoming more and more important to be able to capture the information, so that when we're being asked to make decisions about our resources, we have the information to back up the decisions that are being made." 

Already in Moncton

In June, the Moncton Fire Department began using parts of its new cloud-based records management system from ICO Technologies inc., a Quebec-based technology company, said Conrad Landry, Moncton's fire chief. 

He said the department hasn't been using it long enough to generate data that would prove its increased efficiency. 

"But compared to the system that we had before, which was a little better than an Excel spreadsheet, of course, it's a lot better," Landry said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lane Harrison is a reporter for CBC New Brunswick based in Saint John. You can reach him at lane.harrison@cbc.ca

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