At this year’s Illinois Fire & Life Safety Education Conference, Iowa State Fire Marshal Director Ray Reynolds gave the Keynote address and emphasized that the fire service “is about people, especially the children of our community whose lives we need to protect.”
Director Reynolds also reminded those gathered about doing what’s right to make sure commercial buildings and homes are safe, and not just what’s easy or following the path of least resistance.
Across the nation, fire prevention bureaus face this daily of challenge of trying to maximize protection from fire loss in their jurisdiction with less staff: a reality of the current economic climate and budget pressures.
On the other side of the coin, Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance Companies (i.e. contractors) are trying to keep their businesses afloat in an ultra-competitive environment as are the property owners whose businesses they inspect.
New inventions are often born out of some pain that exists, and, thus, a question arises: are we using every tool and resource available to ensure the buildings our children and adults inhabit are as safe as possible?
Within the last ten years, a number of technological resources have been introduced to the fire service to help create efficiencies and help our professionals do things faster and more accurately. Having razor slim margins when responding to an incident or performing a fire and life safety inspection, fire service professionals have an obligation to review any advantage that technology can provide to reduce human error.
Some of the more recent introductions include Toughbook laptops in vehicles, tablet-based inspection software, and cloud-based operating systems. New technologies can be expensive and there is a learning curve for how to best incorporate its capabilities into a fire professional’s previous processes. We often hear frustrated requests for software programs that are easier to use, include better customer service, and are not cost prohibitive.
At the intersection of trying to do more with less in ensuring our communities are safe and finding technologies that are more cost effective and straight-forward to use, one can find The Compliance Engine, a simple, internet based tool for Fire Departments to track and drive code compliance, reduce false alarm activity, and provide a safer community.
After discussions with the Executive Board of the Illinois Fire Inspectors Association in 2010, Matt Rice and Bryan Schultz, the co-founders of Brycer and The Compliance Engine, developed the technology to help create a solution to address the pain of the manual, time and labor intensive, and frustrating process of tracking paper based code compliance documentation.
As Matt and Bryan conducted national research to determine the precise need for The Compliance Engine, they learned that approximately 30-50% of buildings nationally are not being regularly inspected and maintained as a result of reduced resources for the Authority Having Jurisdiction responsible for enforcing the code requirements.
The question Brycer wanted to answer was: if we can help the AHJ become more efficient in tracking and reviewing testing and maintenance information, while also offering a proactive notification service to help them drive compliance, would more commercial buildings and their fire protection systems get inspected, and would the community be safer as a result?