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5 must-have features of the best fire dispatch software

Two firefighters in full equipment review a fire incident report on a tablet computer.

From real-time updates to unified communications, these features aid fire departments and their communities

Dispatch software plays a critical role in emergency response services, and fire departments are no exception. Fire dispatch software, sometimes called fire department incident reporting software, allows firefighters to respond to emergencies with the appropriate resources and coordinate efforts between the station and the field. But not all fire safety dispatch software has the same features, and it’s important to choose a solution that gives fire departments the best chance at successful outcomes.

As technology evolves, it’s never a bad idea to survey the fire dispatch software landscape and see what advancements other solutions have to offer. But before making a decision, be sure to consider the five fundamental features that the best dispatch solutions have in common. These features better equip operators and firefighters, allowing them to respond to emergencies without wasting a moment.

Ready to dig deeper? Check out The complete guide to fire reporting systems.

5 must-have fire dispatch software features

Advanced computer-aided dispatch

Dispatchers from every emergency service generally use computer-aided dispatch (CAD) to prioritize emergencies, identify the caller’s location and send the correct resources to the site of the emergency. While CAD is pretty much a given in any dispatch software, some fire dispatch software offers more advanced features that allow dispatchers to accomplish more with less effort.

For example, Axon Dispatch is equipped with a powerful computer-aided search function that helps dispatchers quickly find relevant prior events by simply inputting search parameters like dates, event types or keywords. This software also provides operators with type-ahead suggestions for known data elements, as well as helpful messages to keep them on track. In other words, it’s important to look for CAD features that go beyond the bare minimum and help streamline the emergency response process.

Intuitive interface

All software strives for an intuitive user experience, but it’s especially critical for emergency dispatch. After all, operators of varying levels of tech-savviness are going to be using this software; it shouldn’t require an engineering degree to understand.

Look for solutions with easily navigable dashboards that show both map and list views of the current active emergency situations. Menus should be clearly labeled, with critical information no more than a click or two away. Alerts should only pop up when absolutely necessary to minimize distractions. The last thing you want is for your fire dispatch software to cause a delay in emergency response, so be sure to carefully evaluate the hands-on experience before choosing a solution.

Real-time situational awareness

In a crisis, there’s no time to waste. The ideal fire dispatch software should provide real-time updates that incorporate data from sensors in the field, geographic information systems (GIS) and your own equipment, like body-worn cameras. This presents dispatchers and firefighters with the most up-to-date information about the emergency at hand, including whether there’s a need to send backup for potential escalations. Real-time traffic data can also help firefighters find the most direct driving routes, while satellite imagery can provide additional context about the scene.

For true real-time situational awareness, your fire dispatch software needs to be able to connect with the critical systems that provide this data. Make sure any solution you choose can access information from federal, state and local databases, as well as field sensors and records management systems.

Unified communications

Successfully navigating an emergency situation requires clear communication among all parties involved. In the heat of the moment, you don’t want your dispatchers struggling to figure out the best way to relay messages to firefighters in the field. That’s why your fire dispatch software should have a unified communications system that simplifies messaging, allowing operators to send the right information at the right time via voice or text.

Here’s how that works in practice: With Axon Dispatch, users assigned to an event are automatically added to event-specific channels. Rather than dispatchers having to find the appropriate contacts across multiple emergencies, all of which demand a speedy response, they can simply send a message to specific event channels and ensure that the emergency responders at the scene will get the information they need.

Automatic updates

When choosing the fire dispatch software your department will use, you’ll generally want a solution with the most modern features. But the nature of advancing technology means that what’s new today could be obsolete in a year or two. You can future-proof your choice by choosing a cloud-based solution that allows the software provider to automatically dispense updates and upgrades as soon as they’re available. That way, you’ll always have access to the latest and greatest fire dispatch software features without having to go through the painstaking process of finding a new solution every few years.

As an added bonus, cloud functionality generally makes it easier to access your software from a wide variety of devices. This means you won’t incur any headaches when upgrading the department’s hardware and can ensure continued access across computers, tablets and smartphones.

Make Axon your fire dispatch software partner

When it’s time to upgrade your existing dispatch system, Axon can help. Axon Dispatch provides a faster, smarter, computer-aided experience that allows dispatchers to communicate and dispense resources effectively. Our real-time operations platform comes with unified communications, built-in situational awareness and access to critical systems – all within an intuitive, easy-to-navigate software environment. Better yet, our cloud-based software includes all updates and upgrades without additional costs. Want to know more? Get in touch.