It’s Probably Time to Upgrade Pre-Incident Planning

It’s Probably Time to Upgrade Pre-Incident Planning

Tuesday, 01 November 2022 09:43

An important tool in any first responder or firefighters toolbox is the pre-incident plan. Having a working knowledge of how to deal with anything that the world throws at an emergency response crew can mean life or death for those involved. Sloppy planning often leads to sloppy execution, and this is why it is important to have a standard set for pre-incident planning. 


As times change, fire science improves, and we have a better understanding of how to effectively respond to incidents. It is important to update these systems set in place to align with modern technology and practices. However, with all that is going on in the world, it can be hard to sit down and update pre-incident planning protocols. 

What Is Pre-Incident Planning?

Pre-incident planning is vastly important. Experience firefighters understand the importance of effective pre-planning and the difference it can make in the field. Per the guidelines issued in NFPA 1620, effective pre-incident planning requires on-site pre-incident surveys. Your pre-incident planning surveys should include, at a minimum:

  • A building’s construction type and roofing material 
  • The fire suppression system and all alarms
  • Any and all potentially hazardous materials
  • Locations of fire hydrants or other water supplies
  • Whether or not there are people present at night and on the weekend
  • Impediments to access, such as fences or gates
  • Location of utility shutoffs
  • Key photos of any FDC, key box, floor plans, etc.

Preparing for fire incidents is just as crucial to your firemen and paramedics as it is to the individuals they are deployed to save. Your teams are safer, more effective, and have a better chance of successfully mitigating risks when they have the correct information at their disposal.

Signs It’s Time to Update Pre-Incident Planning

Once a relationship is built, and you have begun surveying and compiling data for pre-incident plans, you must have a database of information for each plan. However, many chiefs are using outdated methods of storing and relaying data, costing precious time in the field when an incident does happen. Here are some signs that it is time to update your pre-incident planning.

1. You Are Using Pen and Paper/Filing Cabinets

It is no longer 1986, and even though it is good to have a paper backup, filing cabinets full of handwritten data are not an effective system for pre-incident planning. For one, searching through thousands of pre-incident plans takes up precious time that could be used prepping your team for a safe and effective mission. 

In addition to it being time-consuming, pen-and-paper pre-incident planning is hard to communicate quickly and hard to update. 

2. You Are Using Outdated Computer Software

Planning software has progressed by leaps and bounds over the last few years. At one time, all that was available were poorly built spreadsheets and databases. 

Sure they were searchable, and the data was there; but at the end of the day, the data was only as good as the equipment running it. Older systems are prone to fail and have little to offer for any kind of backup. Also, older computers are cumbersome and slow, causing unending frustration for modern users.

3. You Are Unable to Sync with Other Departments

Especially when it comes to dealing with larger incidents, it is important to be able to sync easily with other departments. Many counties with multiple fire departments may not have set standards outside of the NFPA 1620 for planning software and data collection. This can cause breakdowns in communication and a lack of data for a building or neighborhood when things get intense.

4. You Are Using a System Designed for Someone Else

Sometimes we have to make due. Sometimes budgets introduce a bit of precarity to things, and it is easy to settle on a system not designed for your needs. 

This may be a self-created database or a borrowed system from another institution, such as a police department. While these systems may work o for a while, they will not have the specific needs for fire incident response. 

5. Get Up to Date With StreetWise®

Are you ready to update your pre-incident planning systems? To help you gain access to that crucial information, we have created a system. 

Additionally, we assist you in quickly gathering the information you require. Our pre-plan wizard guides you through acquiring the crucial information advised by the NFPA 1620 step-by-step. You may quickly add images with it. 

Most significantly, every updated pre-plan is instantly synced to all agency devices, including mutual aid partners who have StreetWise installed.

You should speak with the StreetWise team if you want to simplify your pre-incident preparation and enhance how those plans are carried out in real-time. We created a system based on our experiences and what we know needs to be improved for each station since we are both firefighters and paramedics. Contact StreetWise right away if you're prepared to enhance your firehouse's pre-planning surveys.