Town of Newtown

The Search for New Software: Why First Due was the Front Runner

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Daniel Cragin

IT Administrator, Hawleyville Fire Department

Location

Newtown, CT

Response Area Population

29,000 People

Personnel

150 Firefighters

Q&A

The Need for New Software

First Due

What started the search for a new software vendor? And what was your criteria and scope of range that you were looking for in a new solution?

Daniel Cragin

I am the IT Administrator at Hawleyville Fire Department, so I was actually on the hunt for new iPads while we were in a transition from Tyler Technologies New World legacy version to their enterprise version. A lot of our existing tools didn't transfer over, and things were broken from our CAD migration, so we began the discussion of needing new software and then started evaluating different solutions. Through this process, it was decided that I would work on behalf of the town of Newtown to find a new software that all five agencies we cover would use. At just about the same time, ESO announced the acquisition of Firehouse Software, so we were in the perfect storm.

As far as my criteria for new software, a high priority was finding a cloud based solution. Newtown Hook & Ladder, Dodgingtown Fire, Hawleyville Fire, Sandy Hook Fire, and Botsford Fire, would all be making this transition, so I didn’t want to have be responsible for a server and maintain the hardware on that side. The amount of maintenance, the upkeep, the capital expenditure, and the propensity that it could get, becomes a big problem. I also wanted to have a large enough team behind our software solution that could provide technical support since there are several departments involved in this project. We also needed it to be an easy to use platform, that had a good user experience and was easy to train people on. And then finally, it had to be robust. We needed a solution that could manage our incident reports, our personnel files, asset management, training records, and that also had a good trajectory of development in the future.

The Selection Process

First Due

What stood out to you about First Due that ultimately led to your selection? Why were we your front runner?

Daniel Cragin

I was coming in with a different technical background than probably most Fire Department’s come in with, so seeing how you had been developing your product, and seeing the First Due roadmap in action made a big difference for me. I liked that it wasn’t stagnant. When looking at other software providers through this process, a lot of their growth and additions of new features only came with an acquisition. They wanted to sell us different modules that weren’t integrated together and would market that it was all under the same company, but then during the demos we would find that certain modules were under other companies, and that we would receive a license for both but that weren’t actually linked together yet. That is exactly what we were trying to avoid in our search. From my perspective, it felt like we were just another number to these other vendors, which is understandable in the software world. When I really started looking at what we wanted and what we needed, which came down to a vendor with a solid roadmap and connected software, the only answer for us was First Due.

That is exactly what we were trying to avoid in our search. From my perspective, it felt like we were just another number to these other vendors, which is understandable in the software world. When I really started looking at what we wanted and what we needed, which came down to a vendor with a solid roadmap and connected software, the only answer for us was First Due.

That is exactly what we were trying to avoid in our search. From my perspective, it felt like we were just another number to these other vendors, which is understandable in the software world. When I really started looking at what we wanted and what we needed, which came down to a vendor with a solid roadmap and connected software, the only answer for us was First Due.

Diving into the First Due Suite

First Due

What features are you most excited about using in the First Due suite?

Daniel Cragin

First and foremost, the incident reporting. Our old legacy Firehouse software was not easy to use and would not allow all of our different departments to work together under the same umbrella. Through years of updates, it still was never connected to our dispatch, so everything was manually generated and the process was long, messy, and inefficient. In the First Due suite, our incident report workflow will be at ease, and it will integrate with the Responder App so that we can tackle a lot with our pre-plans. That in itself takes loads of work off of us. Another feature I am personally excited for, since I am a big part of managing our assets and personnel, is the Assets & Inventory module. That is going to be super helpful for my daily workflow, just having a seamless system that can flow together with all the other modules I need it to connect with. Things are meant to be simplified, and First Due is going to help me do that.

Things are meant to be simplified, and First Due is going to help me do that.

Things are meant to be simplified, and First Due is going to help me do that.

Implementing First Due

First Due

What is your approach to make sure that the First Due software is well adopted within your agencies?

Daniel Cragin

Since Firehouse is sunsetting, it’s basically a force of adoption, so that is an easy transition for us. We had a quick buy-in from our leadership. There are five Chief’s separately involved in this, and although we work together as part of one town, they are still autonomous as managers. While I sat down with each one them and asked them to explain their priorities for over the next five years, I looked at how we could work those priorities into First Due. By allowing them to see how this software switch was going to help them achieve those goals, rather than forcing it on them, was really important and I think has made a big difference in the overall adoption.

As far as how we are going to implement this, we are going to have a central committee with a representative from each department. I will be running that committee and overseeing the entire implementation phase, and from there will work down responsibilities of each module to personnel within the department where it makes sense. That way we can ensure that each module is appropriately set up for each Chief’s needs, and they can feel like this is something they wanted rather than it being forced on them. This system will give them a chance to really enjoy the platform. As far as training, we are going to execute specific trainings for each module since we have the five different departments involved, so we will break it down based on what people will be using, rather than having a several hour long training on things that won’t be useful for us. We are also going to use a central internal tool where everyone can go in and see project notes and related contact information for each department, so they can all collaborate on this as well.

A Piece of Advice

First Due

What advice would you give to another agency that is replacing their RMS?

Daniel Cragin

The first step is to sit down and really look at what you are currently using. Go through each module and figure out what processes really need to be improved, and then prioritize what you can and can’t live without when moving to a different software solution. You need to identify your needs first, and then look at the modules that come into play that will be affected and address the change that you are looking for. On the vendor side, look at the usability of the platform you’re considering, and also look at how the communication is with the vendor. If you have a specific need, make sure you are not pigeon holed into what the vendor is telling you to do. If that need is important to you, make sure it is put into your quote or your request for proposal so that you ensure you get what you are looking for. With First Due, I was able to highlight what it was that I exactly needed right from the start. Both parties knew the expectations, which is the foundation we both needed to begin working together.

With First Due, I was able to highlight what it was that I exactly needed right from the start. Both parties knew the expectations, which is the foundation we both needed to begin to work together.

With First Due, I was able to highlight what it was that I exactly needed right from the start. Both parties knew the expectations, which is the foundation we both needed to begin to work together.

Products

End-to-end Solutions for the Fire Service

Pre-INcident
Planning

Fire
Prevention

Incident
Reporting

Mobile
Responder

Scheduling & Personnel

Community Connect

Assets & Inventory

Pre-Incident Planning

Automatically aggregate critical information on every structure in your response area so you have pre-plans on every structure within weeks with no effort from your team.

Every Structure

Pre-Plan in Minutes

Analyze & Manage

Respond

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Fire Prevention

Complete any type of inspection using intuitive and flexible checklists with full integrated pre-planning for company level inspections.

Next-Gen Inspections

Virtual CRR

Enterprise Management

Responder Friendly

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Incident Reporting

Document fire company responses with fully scalable, NFIRS and NFORS compliant reporting system designed for ease of use by field responders. Automatic submission to state and federal regulatory bodies.

Next-Gen Incident Reporting

Automation

Compliance

Sophisticated Reporting

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Assessor
Data
PATIENT Data
Pre-plan information
CAD Integration
Schedule and Assignments

NFIRS

Province/ Local / State

NFORS

ePCR / NEMSIS

And
More

Mobile Responder

Complete mobile response functionality enables your crew to receive notifications immediately from dispatch - status, track vehicles / personnel and route to an incident.

Respond

Access Critical Data

Share Information

Available Anywhere

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Reinvent Cross Agency Collaboration

Seamlessly Share Critical Pre-Plan Data with Neighbors

EMS

dispatch

AUTOMATIC & MUTUAL AID

OEM

POLICE

YOUR FIRST DUE
ENABLED AGENCY

Scheduling & Personnel

Schedule personnel with simple drag & drop functionality utilizing a best-of-breed scheduling platform.

Improved Scheduling

Automation

Compliance

Enterprise Management

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Any shift
type

Fully
integrated

Any device

Community Connect

Community Connect allows Residents to create a Household Life Safety Profile in minutes and empowers your agency with the marketing engine you need to get the word out and drive on-going engagement.

Engage Residents

Engage Businesses

Automate Processes

Respond

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Assets & Inventory

Real-time insight and statistics into apparatus & equipment health, usage and compliance - seamlessly linked to First Due Scheduling, Incident Reporting & more.

Enhanced Asset Management

Next-Gen Vehicle Checks

Work Order Management

Powerful Automation

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