Case Study

Bridgeton (NJ) Fire Department

Holding firefighters accountable to excellence while cutting costs

The Old Way

A week-long, paper-based revision process.

Chief Todd Bowen of Bridgeton (NJ) Fire Department is involved in almost everything at his agency.

As a result of a 44-person staff, responding to emergencies and putting out both literal (and figurative) fires are all within his purview.

Ensuring his staff knows what's expected of them in the field by storing, editing, and disseminating crucial content is a big part of his job.

Without a trusted system to facilitate and track policy sign-offs, there was no definitive way for the department's leaders to ensure employees were getting all the information they needed to perform their jobs with excellence.

Before PowerDMS, when a policy needed to be created or revised, the administrators followed this process:

  • Edit or create the policy in Microsoft Word
  • Have the appropriate leaders sign off on the revised/new policy
  • Print and copy the policy (sometimes several dozen pages)
  • Put each copy in the three separate SOG binders in the building
  • Hang a sign-off sheet in the office with copies of the document
  • As shifts come through, make sure every employee receives a copy for their records

His new process consists of making the change electronically in PowerDMS and sending out the revised document with a few clicks. PowerDMS automatically archives the previous file so nobody has outdated information.

"Disseminating a directive with the old process took weeks. Now, I can have the same amount of work done in PowerDMS before noon."

  • Todd Bowen
  • Fire Chief
  • Bridgeton (NJ) Fire Department

A Costly Process

Disorganization prohibits true accountability.

Storing policies before PowerDMS was very disorganized and "helter skelter" as the chief put it. Everything was printed three times, one copy for each massive SOG book at the agency. This didn't include the 44 extra copies printed for each employee.

Not only was the revision process a nightmare, but according to the chief, there was absolutely no definitive way to make sure employees had all the correct information.

Memos and directives lived on a bulletin board, and if the chief was lucky, he might get an attestation from all employees via a sign-off sheet that hung nearby.

But what about people on vacation or another shift? Additionally, how could he ensure staff who signed the documents understood them and acted accordingly when it counts the most?

This inability to measure accountability was a significant obstacle to the agency’s operational excellence.

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A Better Way

Automation and accountability with PowerDMS.

"I don't think you'll find a department that has achieved operational excellence without accountability. PowerDMS makes that possible."

Chief Bowen understands accountability is not mainly about punishing wrongdoers. The primary objective is to have precise information available so fire personnel can perform their jobs with excellence.

“If it's clear, consistent, and easily accessible, that creates operational excellence. If there are questions about what to do in a certain scenario, they can jump on PowerDMS and check. It's that easy.”

Accountability to civilians and outside entities is another thing that PowerDMS affords Bridgeton Fire Department.

“If somebody outside the department asks for a particular policy we can quickly produce it,” Chief Bowen said. “If we need to go back in time to a particular event, PowerDMS archives every version of a policy.”

Chief Bowen’s primary goal for his staff is to have everything they need to do their job well. Clear information enables clear accountability. And accountability is a prerequisite for running a fire agency with excellence.

"I can't even put a price on the time-savings and efficiency PowerDMS has afforded our agency."

  • Todd Bowen
  • Fire Chief
  • Bridgeton (NJ) Fire Department

    Problem

  • Document revision process took weeks
  • Disorganized policy processes were hard to manage and introduced risk
  • No tangible accountability that firefighters understand crucial information
  • Excessive paper and time costs

    Solution

  • Revising and disseminating policies in PowerDMS takes minutes
  • PowerDMS stores all critical content in one central repository
  • Reports show who has seen and signed each policy
  • Bridgeton has saved $2,200 to date on paper costs alone

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