How your fire department can benefit from online scheduling

New technology makes it easy to assign overtime through text and email

By Chad Clay
Aladtec, Inc.

Does your department use a "callback list" or "overtime list"? Do you manually call firefighters one at a time or spend HUGE amounts of money on auto-dialer software to call the list?  This made sense 15 years ago, but these days it’s a huge waste of your time and money.  

Remember what things were like 15 years ago? You drove to the video store to rent a VHS movie for your VCR. Your camera used film that you paid someone to develop. You used pay phones, looked up how to spell words in a dictionary, and complained that gas was almost $2 a gallon. You don't do these things anymore. Why are you still calling firefighters one-at-time when today, 96 percent of adults between 18 and 50 own mobile phones, the Internet is everywhere, and there’s a better way to fill overtime shifts.

Image Aladtec

Imagine this:  You click a button and all firefighters qualified to work the shift receive a text message, email, or page. You give them 20 minutes to sign-up for the shift. They can sign-up via their phone, computer, or tablet. Voila! You now have a handful of people willing to work the shift displayed on your screen and you assign the shift to the person with the least amount of overtime. Or, you can award it to the person highest on the overtime list.

Firefighters will no longer feel like they only get called on the days they can’t take the shift. No longer will they check their caller-ID and ignore your call, making the process even slower. This new method fills shifts faster, is easier and gives everybody more opportunities for overtime while evenly spreading the overtime hours across all employees. Everything is fair and any concerns about favoritism can be eliminated because the entire process is tracked with date and time stamps.

This method can be accomplished easily and inexpensively by using an online employee scheduling system built for fire departments. Search the internet for "online firefighter scheduling" and compare prices, ease-of-use, functionality and customer support between the different products. I’m confident you’ll find most online crew scheduling systems are one-tenth the cost of that old fashioned auto-dialer system mentioned above.

About the author

Chad Clay is a Partner at Aladtec, Inc., a company specializing in the development of online workforce management solutions for the Public Safety Sector. Aladtec products include EMS Manager, FIRE Manager and Zanager

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