Fire departments and law enforcement agencies both have high demands for managing equipment and gear. Yet, fire and police have very different structures and requirements in their asset and inventory management processes, as was discovered by Mcmtech when developing its Quartermaster software. Understanding these differences is an important part of configuring the right software for your public safety needs.
All mission-critical resource management involves effectively, efficiently, and accurately distributing, tracking and maintaining vast amounts of equipment and supplies to a complex network of users. But first responder agencies are structured very differently from one another in ways that significantly impact workflows and channels.
The primary challenge for fire departments is capturing the complex hierarchy of how and where assets and inventory are used. Fire departments manage firehouses that in turn manage fire engines, EMS and respective crews. Records need to reflect this in a way that allows items, costs, usage, and more to be tracked and managed according to each subgroup. The primary challenge for law enforcement is the broad variety of items, users, and specifications to be accounted for. Their asset and inventory management system should make it easy for a wide range of people to interact with a wide range of items, using detailed permissions and processes to reduce errors, excess, and loss. The paragraphs below give more specific insight to what this looks like for fire and police.
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A fire department often manages multiple firehouses. Each firehouse has a huge range of inventory and asset needs. Firehouses will request standard items such as axes, chainsaws, turnout gear and Personal Protective Equipment. They also need serialized wearables like custom-fit air masks and color-coded helmets, as well as properly configured technology like radios and devices. Firehouses also need house management supplies, like cleaning liquid and mopheads, and living comforts like mattresses and pillows. And of course, they need fully outfitted fire engines with pumps, hoses and all their parts.
Fire departments also manage Emergency Medical Services, often through their firehouses, but not always. This includes managing their vehicles, stretchers, AEDs, and health monitors, as well as their large list of medical supplies and drugs, which also have to track and account for lots and expiration dates. Firehouses have to find, pull and replace all perishable inventory in circulation before it expires. And many firehouse items, from hoses to air masks, require detailed records of preventive maintenance and inspection.
Managing the request, distribution, and tracking process is a gigantic and important task for fire departments. Being able to track costs down to the firehouse, crew, engine number, and more is extremely helpful for maintaining responsible usage and future resource and supply planning.
While fire departments will manage items through a firehouse tier, law enforcement agencies tend to issue and track directly with individuals. Clothes needed for bike police are different than those issued to horseback, motorcycle, animal control, car patrol, and SWAT officers, and a department may need to have 30 pairs of women’s size 8 patrol pants, 20 pairs of men’s 30x32 and 20 pairs sized 32x32 just to cover half the individuals on their car patrol.
Police departments issue serialized bodycams and radios configured with the right ID and range for the individual’s service area. Different officers have different types of serialized vests, tasers, gear belts and firearms they are permitted to use. All of these must be requested and distributed according to their user’s specifications.
When an officer’s service with the department ends—whether due to relocation, termination, retirement, or [heaven forbid] loss of life—the agency needs to pull a detailed report of his or her outstanding items to determine what needs to be recovered. Even a rogue badge can cause issues in the wrong hands.
Like fire departments, many police items require regular preventive maintenance and inspection. These items need to be returned by the user for rotation. Users also need to be alerted when their consumables are about to expire so they can exchange them.
Specialized requirements for each type of officer, multiplied by the number of officers, plus having to manage individually serialized items, makes this an extremely challenging yet critical task. Being able to customize inventory so that a user sees only what they are permitted to request, and being able to sort detailed histories for each user, is a vital function for law enforcement asset and inventory management.
While we focused on the differences between the two, there are of course similarities, particularly in their roles as part of a larger public safety network. Sometimes, the software used to manage and distribute their equipment and gear is a shared solution owned and run by the city, county or even state. In fact, this can be extremely valuable for multi-agency emergency responses.
Conversely, there can be significant differences from FD to FD or PD to PD that impact how their asset and inventory management system should be configured. And of course, everything changes over time, including structures and processes.
Fortunately, all of this is accounted for with a good flexible, scalable software solution. Agencies in any public sector should work closely with their software provider to ensure that their solution best meets their evolving needs.
Mcmtech is a leader in public safety asset management, inventory management, and work order management software. If you are interested in learning more about their solutions, view an overview of Mcmtech solutions or contact the Mcmtech team for a personal follow up.
Updated December 1, 2023, 2:41 pm