ESO Predicts Key Fire Service Trends for 2021

Jan. 7, 2021
Provider safety, COVID’s impact on budgets, recruitment, and the expanding role of the fire service will all be focus areas.

Jan. 6, 2021 – Austin, TX – ESO, the leading data and software company serving emergency medical services (EMS), fire departments, hospitals, and state EMS/Trauma offices, today shared the trends it predicts will have the biggest impact on the fire service in 2021: Provider safety will be a top priority; COVID-19 will affect budgets; recruitment will be a challenge for many organizations; and the areas of responsibility will expand for the Fire Service.

“COVID-19 has had a profound effect on our public health and public safety infrastructure,” said Bill Gardner, Senior Director of Fire Products for ESO and retired fire chief. “And we’ll continue to see a significant impact in 2021, especially around responder well-being and budgetary challenges. We’ll also see some challenges related to recruiting and the expansion of the fire service. Data will become absolutely essential for organizations to navigate 2021 successfully.”

Key Fire Service Predictions for 2021:

  • Provider safety will continue to be a core issue: Responder and provider safety – especially around mental health and well-being – has been a key topic for the last few years. However, 2021 will see the safety and wellness of responders being stretched to the limits as we continue to experience a massive surge in COVID-19 encounters. There is significant risk of exposure to disease, physical exhaustion, and mental/emotional burnout across the board.
  • Budgets will be severely affected by COVID-19: While we’ve seen some fiscal impact of COVID-19 on fire service budgets, the worse is yet to come. We will see the true effect of COVID-19 over the next 6-18 months as organizations enter new budgetary cycles and experience constraints. Resources will be trimmed to minimal needs, fewer heads will be added, there will be small capital adjustments, and departments will be pushed hard to use data to show justification for allocated dollars.
  • Recruitment will be a key area of focus: Two significant events in 2020 will have an impact on recruiting in 2021. The stress and strain of COVID-19 is increasing retirement and decreasing the desire to enter the fire service (which is very different very different from the effects of September 11); and even though fewer heads will be added due to budget constraints, there is an increased focus and emphasis on inclusion when it comes to recruiting, meaning the fire service needs to be more reflective of the community it serves in terms of demographic composition.
  • Fire Service will grow in public health responsibility: Fire departments will be expected to take on increased responsibility in their communities around major events and public health emergencies. For example, in many places, fire departments are being identified as key sites for clinical care when it comes to the treatment of patients, supporting emergency management, and filling gaps in community safety – especially in light of COVID-19. Departments will be stretched to do more with fewer resources.

Download the 2021 Fire Service Predictions whitepaper here.

About ESO

ESO is dedicated to improving community health and safety through the power of data. Since its founding in 2004, the company continues to pioneer innovative, user-friendly software to meet the changing needs of today’s EMS agencies, fire departments, hospitals and state EMS offices. ESO currently serves thousands of customers throughout North America with a broad software portfolio, including the industry-leading ESO Electronic Health Record (EHR), the next generation ePCR; ESO Health Data Exchange (HDE), the first-of-its-kind healthcare interoperability platform; ESO Fire RMS, the modern fire Record Management System; ESO Patient Registry (trauma, burn and stroke registry software); and ESO State Repository. ESO is headquartered in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit

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