How Volunteer Firefighters Solve Asset Management Emergencies

Volunteer fire departments face employee and asset management issues far above and beyond those of small businesses. In fact, efficiently maintaining and tracking their assets truly is a matter of life and death for them, and their volunteer nature means engaging and efficiently using employees isn’t a matter of profit, but a challenge to their continued existence. More than two-thirds of U.S. fire services are now made up of volunteer departments, and for the first time in decades the majority of firefighters are older than 50.


An emergency situation is no time to start tracking the equipment you need, and that’s true whether you’re facing a literal or a metaphorical fire. Lipscomb Fire and Rescue were manually tracking their equipment when they realized that the time lost, and the risk of error, was unacceptable. Liaison officer Jamie Pugh said, “Tracking by hand was very time consuming… Since we’re 100% volunteer, it is important for us to be efficient. For safety purposes, it’s vital our equipment tracking be very accurate. If our tracking isn’t accurate, we aren’t able to provide the public safety services we are committed to provide”.

Related Article:Asset Management Leads to Efficient Spending

Now your business can learn from professionals who have to apply the highest standards possible to what they do. Volunteer firefighters save American communities $37.3 billion (about £24 billion) per year in taxes. First, let’s look at the asset management problems Lipscomb Fire and Rescue faced with their old manual system.

Safety And Organizational Problems Resulting From Inefficient Asset Management

  1. Loss of time

A fire department must be ready to respond instantly, at all times, while prepping and tracking a large amount of expensive equipment. Pugh and his volunteers were wasting hours simply sorting through piles of gear by hand.

  1. Loss of accuracy

A large number of people tracking a larger number of small details inevitably leads to error. This is particularly true when everything is being tracked through a simple spreadsheet where manual entry means lags in updates and difficulties in tracking who did what.


  1. Loss of employees

Volunteer firefighters want to serve, they want to help, and most of all they want to fight fires. Forcing them to spend hours on laborious and repetitive tasks makes it difficult to retain even the most highly-motivated volunteers.

Pugh realised that such an important asset tracking task deserved to be done properly, not just laboriously. He researched asset tracking systems to solve his organisation’s issues, and found that Wasp Barcode’s MobileAsset could satisfy his requirements within his available budget. In May 2011, Lipscomb Fire and Rescue implemented Wasp Barcode asset tracking software and enjoyed immediate advantages.

How Asset Management Software Helped Lipscomb Fire And Rescue

  1. Barcode Labels Mean Easy Entry

Individual barcodes for each asset mean they can be easily and instantly scanned to a central database using the Wasp barcode scanner. “We are very pleased with Wasp MobileAsset and the efficiency we have gained”, said Pugh. Volunteers can now spend more time serving the community and less time sifting through piles of equipment. The time taken to track equipment on the trucks has dropped from about an hour per run to less than twenty minutes.

“Wasp provided the services we needed on our limited budget. When I called to get a quote, I received outstanding customer service”.

  1. Automated Data Entry Means Fewer Errors

The cost of making a mistake with firefighting equipment doesn’t bear thinking about, but it’s a problem Pugh faced every day. With instant, automatic asset tracking data entry by barcode, he now knows he need not worry about a manual data entry disaster.

  1. Centralized Data Accessible to Everyone

Asset Tracking with Fire Departments

The centralized database is automatically updated when anything is scanned, meaning that any member or volunteer with access can instantly find required equipment, or spot issues before they cause further problems.

  1. Effective and Professional Customer Service

When you use manual data entry on a spreadsheet you’re facing your problems alone. When you use dedicated asset management software, you gain all the advantages of professionals who’ve dealt with these problems before. Pugh was impressed with Wasp’s customer service. “Wasp provided the services we needed on our limited budget. When I called to get a quote, I received outstanding customer service”.

What’s more, asset management software will by design prevent problems that an already busy administrator might only learn about through costly errors. And where further help is required, it’s easily obtained. Pugh continues, “But we are most impressed with the friendly service we have received. Wasp stands behind their product and is always willing to help if we have any questions or need their assistance”.

“Since implementing Wasp MobileAsset, we have become safer, faster and more efficient”, said Pugh. “And when there is an emergency, the firefighters now know the equipment is there and they know exactly where it is on the truck”.

Even if your equipment might not save lives, can effective asset management help you save money and time?

Jason Sentell

Jason Sentell

Product Marketing Manager at Wasp Barcode
Jason Sentell is a Product Marketing Manager, responsible for development and execution of Wasp's product marketing strategy.
Jason Sentell
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