Similar to other public safety industries, fire department personnel scheduling is a challenging task, that’s why it’s important to look for key fire department scheduling features. Firefighters work long hours, averaging approximately 56 hours per week, with overtime being an occupational hazard. Most unions and FLSA rules place restrictions on work hours, consecutive work days and the types of schedules that can be implemented. For these reasons, most firefighting chiefs recognize the importance of fire department shift scheduling software.
When looking for a scheduling solution for your fire department, we recommend looking for these five key scheduling features:
1. Automated Scheduling
The most important scheduling feature for fire departments is an automated and detailed scheduling system. An automated scheduling software provides real-time scheduling changes and updates, and schedules firefighters based on their rank, skill and training certifications. Automated scheduling enables your department to create error-free schedules quickly and efficiently.
An automated and detailed scheduling system also allows you to add key information regarding a scheduling shift, such as location, time, tasks that need to be performed, equipment required, pictures and more. Moreover, an automated scheduling system allows administrative teams to duplicate schedules, allowing firefighters to work the same routine schedule. In an industry like public safety where the hours are long and challenging, a routine schedule allows firefighters to have a set schedule they can rely on and get accustomed to.
2. Overtime Tracking and Management
The goal of every scheduling system is to minimize costs and reduce overtime spending. For this reason, the second most important software feature for fire departments is an overtime tracking and management feature. This feature allows for complete transparency and control of overtime for fire departments. Not only does this keep a real-time running total of overtime, but it also accounts for planned vs. unplanned overtime. With overtime tracking, your department has full visibility of where money is going, which allows you to make important decisions and changes that are in the best interest of your department’s budget.
An overtime management system also allows your department to automatically assign overtime shifts based on rank and training qualifications. This removes any risk of bias when assigning overtime shifts, and ensures the right firefighters are scheduled based on department rules.
3. Simple leave and approval process
Every fire crew deserves a break. Some leave management features, such as InTime’s Leave Management, have built-in alerts for coverage levels and time bank balances to reduce errors and enhance department-wide coverage. An easy-to-use leave and approval feature allows employees and chiefs to plan their vacations effectively and make requests and approvals straightforward, giving every employee a well-deserved break.
4. Enhanced training management
Since firefighters complete routine training courses, training management is a feature that every fire department scheduling software should include. An enhanced training management feature will help your department keep track of training certifications and performance, and in some cases, integrate the training schedule into the regular shift schedule. This integration will allow your department to create large, mandatory team training shifts and assign them to your entire crew automatically. An enhanced training management feature will also allow you to manage your firehouse’s training courses, certifications, hours, training levels and promotions.
With training management, you can report on training compliance, analyze training gaps and schedule training shifts easily. It’s critical that your department’s training is completed and up-to-date, and a training management system makes this task much easier for crew chiefs and administrators
5. Scheduling insights and reports
Finally, one last scheduling software feature to look for is scheduling insights and reports. Your insights and reports will allow you to make decisions regarding past scheduling decisions, so you can save money and engage your firehouse better. These insights will help you mitigate firehouse liability, reduce risk and run your department smoothly.
Scheduling for fire departments is a challenging task, and key insights will allow you to make decisions that are in the best interest of both your fire department and the community you serve.
The Bottom Line
A firefighter’s work schedule is something that managers and chiefs must get right. By reviewing our five best scheduling software features, you can ensure your fire department is scheduling shifts efficiently and saving money while doing so. Reach out to our team if you’re interested in learning about our other scheduling features for fire departments.