2. Tie the technology to a specific problem
It is much easier to deny a fire department budget request when there is no context for why it is important. Ditto if a budget request is something vague, like “improved performance” or “better reporting.” However, if you can tie your request to a specific problem or issue in the community, that helps the city leaders put it into context.
For example, if the problem is X, and the technology will help you reduce X by a certain amount each year or month or week, that is an easier sell.
Case in point – with the opioid epidemic hitting every U.S. community, it impacts the volume and types of calls firefighters respond to and boosts the dangers they encounter at the emergency scene, both of which stretch already thin resources.
But if you give emergency personnel mobile access to up-to-date information, risks, and tactics (such as proper decontamination protocols, medical orders, and best practices when administering Narcan), you can significantly reduce risk.
Citing local statistics on opioid-related fire services calls and showing how technology can help stem the tide will provide the type of concrete funding justification you need.
3. Know your city’s budgeting process
Do you understand the basics of your city’s budgeting process? If not, make it your job to find it out. When does the council meet? Who is the key individual or group you need to convince? Who are your advocates and what do they care about?
Gone are the days when you can expect everything you ask for to be approved. Instead, educate yourself so you can properly prepare and defend your technology request.
You need to convince your city’s leaders that you won’t be wasting taxpayer dollars, so be prepared to justify your technology needs. The more you know about the process (and decision-makers involved), the better you can tailor your fire department funding request.
4. Look for technology grants
Grants offer a terrific avenue to extend your fire department budget, whether you need to purchase tablets, buy a cloud-based solution, or fund technology training. The downside? Grants require a lot of work up front, and typically some tracking and reporting afterward.
Many fire departments don’t see the value in pursuing grants because of all the legwork involved. Other fire departments largely rely on grants to make ends meet. But if you are having trouble getting a key piece of technology funded, it is worth investigating if a grant exists that could help jumpstart your efforts.
5. Think outside of the box
While going through usual funding channels is a given, don’t rely completely on city budgets to bring much-needed technology to your fire department. Diversify your funding stream. Think about other means within your community, through your associations, or with your risk pool to obtain technology.
A great place to start for your software needs? Tap your city’s IT department. An existing solution might already be available to you. Or you might discover that you can get discounts on technology by working with the city’s IT department.
Risk pools will also offer discounts on software that will help reduce the risks associated with public safety. And finally, your state chief’s association or fire department association might have connections or partnerships with technology providers.
Another option? Ask around to learn about what technology other departments use. If you are considering a cloud-based technology solution like PowerDMS, for example, you might find that your city is already using it over in your police department.
You could simply ask your IT department to see what it would take to increase the number of users to include your fire department. On the flip side, ask what technology other departments would like to use. If you discover a shared solution that you both need, you can coordinate purchasing multiple licenses to the same resource.
Today’s threats and risks are rapidly changing, making it necessary to fund technology that keeps your firefighters informed, up-to-date, and ready to respond. While fire department finances will continue to be stretched thin, these tips can help you budget for the technology you need to fight modern-day threats with cutting-edge solutions.