With the help of FireServiceRota, Jersey Fire and Rescue Service was able to streamline their crew scheduling, saving over 900 hours and £16,000 (Over £13,000 in efficiency and £3,000 in costs) annually in the process.
Jersey Fire and Rescue Service operates two stations serving a community of over 100,000 people. Their headquarters, located in St. Helier, is crewed by wholetime and retained duty firefighters. The Western station in St. Brelade operates solely using the retained duty system.
Managing up to 50 on-call firefighters used to take more than one hour daily and involved setting up a spreadsheet with the daily rota. Of course, this was only part of the challenge. To paraphrase a famous military strategist, “even the best rota does not survive contact with reality”: as soon as the daily rota was set up, firefighters needed to make last minute changes.
According to Ryan Hall, Watch Commander at Jersey Fire and Rescue, if on-call firefighters wanted to make changes to their availability, they had to go to the station to log on to the local network, open the spreadsheet, and update their status. This was, to cite Ryan, “a real pain”. The alternative was to call the Control Room and request a change in the rota. These calls went like: “Can you take me off duty from this time to that time?”, or “This guy is covering me from that time to that time, can you put this in the rota?”. These calls were cumbersome, wasted precious time of multiple staff, and were prone to error.
While searching online for rota cards, Ryan came across FireServiceRota’s website. FireServiceRota is scheduling software for (volunteer) emergency services, and is built by firefighters, for firefighters. FireServiceRota has been active for over a decade in the Netherlands at more than 200 fire stations and was recently introduced in the UK. It is a powerful remote access system that allows on-call firefighters to plan their own rotas, while ensuring a full crew compliment by sending out warnings in case of (imminent) understaffing. This allows firefighters to take the necessary action well before pumps need to be taken off the run.
Ryan signed up for a free trial and easily set up the account for the Western Fire Station on his own. In his enthusiasm, he then added the HQ station and also extended the use of FireServiceRota to schedule senior Duty Officers.
Ryan describes the setup process as follows: “Experiences working with FSR are refreshing. The team is very proactive and efficient. Building our account to what we use today has been nothing but first class service.” Ryan continues: “We were able to use FSR to get exactly what we wanted. Using their standard package we were able to make just the right adjustments to suit our needs.”
As a result of implementing FireServiceRota in both HQ and Western Fire stations, on-call firefighters are now managing their own availability without needing to call in any changes. One on-call firefighter expressed that “It is handy being able to manage your own manning. If something unexpectedly arises you are able to swap nights with someone from another crew without having to bother the control room or officers.“ Another firefighter added that “[…] FireServiceRota allows individuals more flexibility to organise their own manning and shift swapping while being alerted to any crewing deficiencies.”
In addition to the advantages experienced by firefighters, the Control Room can now monitor crew availability in real-time and get notifications alerting of crew deficiencies in advance. In Ryan’s words: “There’s benefit to both Fire service operations and the Control Room, and the amount we are saving in both cost and efficiency is phenomenal. I think Control Room alone is saving 470 hours just avoiding unnecessary calls. There is a price to that because it’s time spent. The figures answer everything, really. And the flexibility is great.”
These savings, combined with retained duty officers avoiding 50 hours of administration annually, 286 hours of duty watch updates, and 104 hours of RDS liaison checking and maintaining, Jersey Fire and Rescue is saving over 900 hours a year compared to their old system. This boils down to roughly £16,000 annually, according to internal hourly rates.
In summary, Jersey Fire and Rescue Service is benefitting from FireServiceRota in multiple ways. It helps them save time and money by increase productivity and reducing the need for cumbersome processes. Perhaps more importantly, it gives simultaneous and instant access to availability, it provides a tool for internal communication, and it identifies threats of crewing deficiency well before they become critical.
Interested in knowing more about the saving potential and scheduling benefits of FireServiceRota? Contact us, or start your free trial today.