Middlefield Vol. Fire Co. Uses Slates to Manage & Inspect SCBA Bottles & Packs

Written by Steven Tyc, Asst. Chief Middlefield Vol. FD & Brian Bannon, Owner Slate Pages

Steven and Brian met at a meeting in early 2019. Slate Pages was looking to introduce its inspection app to the emergency services market. Steve is responsible for his department’s maintenance/safety inspection and was looking for a cost-effective digital solution!

About Middlefield Vol. Fire Company

Established in 1934, the Middlefield Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. (MVFC) protects and safeguards the lives and property within the boundaries of Middlefield and Rockfall, CT by doing everything within its power to provide firefighting and rescue services, as well as provide mutual aid support to surrounding communities. As well as fire response we are the first responders to medical calls throughout the town. We operate out of a single station that covers 13.3 square miles, and a population of over 4,000, averaging about 325 calls a year.

About SCBA & Pack Inspections & Management at MVFC

Prior to Slate Pages, we conducted all of our inspections like most do: pen and paper. We did our best to stay organized, having separate binders for each inspection item to try and keep track of them. We had a binder at our SCBA fill station to document bottle inspections and fill logs each. We used a binder with all of our SCBA data in it, with separate pages for a monthly inspection as well as pages to document the inspection after each time the pack was used. The challenges we faced was keeping those binders up to date and organized. When you’re using something so frequently, paper becomes worn out, pages were falling out, and binders were not always put back in the same spot.

We had a tough time making sure inspections were being done accordingly and when we found an issue with a pack, it was tough to track down info on the packs current usage at incidents or its maintenance history. Our officers recognized the need for something more reliable and consistent, and began with an electronic spreadsheet to try and get away from paper forms which posed different issues, such as technological requirements and training hurtles.

About Slate Pages, LLC

“Slate Pages was created to help electronically track “stuff” throughout our divisions and companies. As our manufacturing and service business began to grow and accumulate assets, there was a need to inspect and maintain these assets.

All of our assets information was being recorded and stored on paper or in the memories of our amazing employees. You could never find the paper record you needed when you needed it, and the employee or maintenance worker who knew the information was out that day or on a break when you were looking for the answer.”
Brian Bannon Co-Founder of Slate Pages, LLC

Slate Pages, LLC was created and tasked with developing a smartphone application-based inspection platform with these 5 points in mind:

  1. Cost effective. NO MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION FEES.
  2. QR code driven to enable quick scanning using any smartphone.
  3. Customizable by the users.
  4. Inspection information needs to be available on the phone, at the asset, or remotely from an internet connected computer.
  5. Easy to use.

Middlefield Volunteer Fire Company Meets Slate Pages

Steve was able to populate a spreadsheet which contained his Cylinder and Pack information. The columns in that spreadsheet were as follows:

  • · Packs
    • Pack number
    • Serial Number
    • In Service Date
    • Last Flow Test Date
  • Cylinders
    • Bottle Number
    • Serial Number
    • Inservice Date
    • Original Hydro Test Date
    • Size (minutes)
    • Fill Pressure
    • Photo

Cylinders and Packs were assigned a unique Slate QR Code / URL and the spreadsheet information was quickly imported into the Slate web portal. NFPA inspection questions were added to an inspection record field, stickers were shipped and inspections began.

When we first jumped on board with Slate Pages, we were awaiting delivery on an order of 26 packs and 50 bottles. We were able to send Slate Pages all of the equipment info in an excel spreadsheet where they were then able to import the info into the Slate Pages database. This saved us so much time rather than having to enter info for each piece of equipment manually and allowed us to get online with the system as quickly as possible.

Once they had all the info, they were able to print stickers for us which we received very fast, and were personalized with a unique QR code, our logo, and the name of the item. It did not take long to label all of our new equipment before it was placed into service. We were originally concerned with the durability of the stickers and how they would hold up in the harsh environments we encounter, and we were surprised with how rugged they ended up being.

The app has a very user friendly and responsive layout which made customizing our Slates a breeze. We had existing iPads on the majority of our apparatus where we downloaded the app to conduct our inspections. Since the app is free and there is no limit on downloads, a lot of our members downloaded the app to their personal phones too, which made it even easier for them to complete their inspections, and only took them a short time to learn how to use it.

Firefighter using Slate Pages app

After the first few weeks using Slate Pages, our members became more proficient with the system and were coming up with new ideas to use with Slates. We now have them on all of our medical bags, AEDs, apparatus, personnel accountability tags. The web portal saves us so much time as we can see in one place equipment that needs to be inspected, items that are expiring, or things that were damaged or needed service. Rather than walking around checking each item, all the info we need is at our fingertips.

Between all the different requirements fire departments have today, a huge part of what we do is documentation. This was a huge help for us by finding a simple, fast, and reliable way for our members to complete the necessary inspections. Other systems we looked at had reoccurring costs and were subscription based. Slate Pages will save you money, no doubt, as it is a one time cost. As a smaller volunteer department, we value the time our members sacrifice every day and finding a system that gets them back to their families quicker is priceless!

-Steven Tyc, Assistant Fire Chief Middlefield Vol. Fire Company

Visit our Fire Department Applications page for more information.