You Are Not What You Say You Are; You Are What Your Data Says Your Are
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You Are Not What You Say You Are; You Are What Your Data Says Your Are

By Brian Marcos, CFO, Deputy Fire Chief & Deputy Director of Emergency Management, Smyrna Fire Department

Brian Marcos, CFO, Deputy Fire Chief & Deputy Director of Emergency Management, Smyrna Fire Department

Chief Brian Marcos is responsible for operationalizing the overall strategy of the Smyrna Fire Department and provides executive level oversight to all day-to-day operations.

Chief Marcos’s educational accomplishments include receiving; an Associate Degree in Fire Science from Columbia Southern University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Administration, and he is a 2017 graduate of the Leadership Cobb program.

Chief Marcos was named by Cobb Life Magazine as one of its "20 Under 40" for 2019, he holds a Chief Fire Officer Designation (CFO) from the Commission on Professional Credentialing, he is a Georgia Certified Paramedic, and he is a Georgia Smoke Diver.  Chief Marcos is a commended instructor on leadership practices within the fire service.  His writings on fire-service leadership topics have received publication by fire-service trade magazines and he is regularly sought to provide informative lectures to Fire Departments and Fire Service Organizations.  He is currently serving as the Area 7 District Vice President for the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs and as the Georgia State Director for the Southeastern Association of Fire Chiefs.

Brian is thankful for his seventeen-year marriage to his wife Ashley and their three children: Bryson 15, Kyla 14, and Levi 10.  He enjoys coaching his children, traveling with his family and volunteers as a greeter at West ridge Church.

A little over six years ago, I participated in the New Fire Chief orientation program at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland,where the instructor said something that would forever change my view on data and its value on the fire service. He said, “You are not what you say you are, you are what your data says you are.” This statement brought clarity to the importance of sharing the organizations story accurately.

The 21st century fire service has certainly seen advancements in the use of technology and the critical role it plays in supporting the delivery of premier services.  We have seen in the last two decades, an integration of mobile computer terminals (MCT) in response units, dashboard displays in fire stations and the utilization of records management systems (RMS). All these technological advancements are exciting and undoubtedly play an integral part in shaping the future fire service profession. However, there is a growing challenge facing our profession with every new development. Our ability to confidently make decisions with good data and key performance goals are reliant on smart technology strategies.

THE CHALLENGES OF TECHNOLOGY

It would be a fair assumption to say we have more platforms and widgets available than ever before. Many organizations have several options to track response times, vehicle maintenance, incident call data, and much more. It’s tempting for leaders within these organizations to feel reassured with all these mechanisms for tracking and displaying data that it’s a smart strategy. Is it? Having multiple technology solutions can create duplication, confusion for the end user, and ultimately distort goals and objectives. So, what do we do?

SMART TECHNOLOGY STRATEGIESFOR THE FIRE SERVICE

Never underestimate the frontlines: The frontlines are essential to the success of any new technology strategy and must be informed by the “why”. It’s imperative when introducing change to create a sense of buy-in through collaboration with those closest to the work.

Build your technology strategy around key performance indicators: What performance indicators do you need to track? What do you need to measure in order to improve performance? Answering these questions will lead to the ‘right’ technology purchases.

It’s a force multiplier: The fire service is undergoing rapid changes and many city and county officials are asking for public safety professionals to consider cost saving options as a part of theirplans. The caveat, of course, is doing so without reducing the quality of services. This ensures technology will be a strategic imperative and the force multiplier in service delivery.

Data supported decisions: In an era where data drives the decisions, the fire service is not in the business of quotas and bottom lines but rather being mission focused. Our mission is to protect the lives of our citizenry, mitigate emergencies, and educate the community. There are times when doing the right thing is not cost effective, however those instances do exist in our industry. This is one reason data and technologies are better suited for supporting the strategy and not driving it.

I expect in the next decade even more advancements in technology to emerge, and we must be ready. We will see these emerging advancements affect who we recruit, and it will challenge our core and traditional services. These adaptive challenges are exciting and will necessitate that fire service leaders take an introspective look at their organizations to see if they’re ready for what is to come.

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