Fire Department Callbacks: How Does Your Department Ensure Coverage?


When an emergency strikes, the public isn’t thinking about their fire department’s shift staffing levels. They are expecting a timely response from firefighters and EMS personnel to perform life-saving procedures or prevent property loss. Unfortunately, the challenges of ensuring adequate coverage in public safety can be lost on those who do not experience it day in day out. However, both public safety personnel and community members are feeling its impact.

Understaffed fire departments are a major problem experienced by agencies across the country. As fire service leaders advocate for more hiring and more personnel per shift, how are stations filling gaps in staffing? They’re relying on mutual aid partners and performing fire department callbacks.

The Need for Callback Staffing in the Fire Service

Executing firefighter callbacks allows departments to fill open shifts or bring on more personnel to relieve first responders out on a call. However, this solution can yield costly results due to budget limitations for overtime pay, time delays of contacting personnel and work exhaustion.

Due to the demand for personnel and budget concerns, fire agencies must be mindful with how and when they conduct callback staffing. Without an effective workforce management system for fire departments, it can be especially challenging to keep track of outreach attempts, whether positions are filled, and hours worked.

Learn how innovations in technology in the fire service are utilized by departments to simplify callback staffing and make better decisions based on callback history and other data.

Streamline Your Fire Department Callbacks with TargetSolutions Scheduling™

TargetSolutions Scheduling™ by CrewSense is a flexible workforce management solution created by firefighters, for firefighters. Dynamic features in the integrated mobile or desktop application allow departments to schedule employees, oversee live roster information and perform callbacks in just a few clicks.

Designed for the unpredictability of mission-critical industries, the Callbacks module in TargetSolutions Scheduling™ helps fire departments quickly fill open positions manually or automatically using an intelligent, rules-based system.

“We can be on scene for a large incident. Use the mobile app to initiate employee recalls to have people come back in and back fill our stations. No longer do we need somebody in the station to do so.” Craig McVey, Engineer and Staffing Administrator, Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District (CA).

Automate Callback Staffing for Your Fire Department

If you’re relying on individuals to manually contact firefighters when a position is available or first responders need backup coverage, you’re losing time and effort with inefficient processes. TargetSolutions Scheduling™ offers fully customizable tools to automate your fire department’s callbacks.

The system allows dispatchers or officers to save time in their outreach efforts and contact personnel through their preferred channels. With TargetSolutions Scheduling™, individuals can choose how they are contacted. They can receive auto-generated phone calls, text messages and push notifications in the application. Not only do these options make callbacks more convenient, it also increases the likelihood that personnel will view the message and respond.

“Receiving a callback used to be just a phone call,” Craig McVey, of the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District (CA), explained. “But now we have a phone call or text message or an app notification – making it very flexible and personal in how the actual individual would like to be notified of a possible overtime.”

Reach Qualified Personnel for Overtime Hiring

Intelligent callback automation tools make decisions based on the rules you determine. Using the Callbacks module, administrators can ensure the right people are contacted for overtime. Set preferences to reach out to specific individuals first or customize qualifiers based on factors such as job title or rank.

Rules-based callbacks in the TargetSolutions Scheduling™ system reduce human error and eliminate schedule grievances.

Track Callback Metrics, Overtime Hours and More

With budget concerns, tracking callback metrics such as number of callbacks done, employee hours and the personnel executing callbacks are all crucial. Reporting capabilities in TargetSolutions Scheduling™ pull all data relating to your fire department’s callbacks and provide filters to narrow information and assist in decision-making.

Reports are also exportable in a variety of file formats for external agencies such as payroll. With these features, fire departments can identify trends in their stations’ callbacks, consider budgeting and use findings for future callbacks.

Fire service agencies across the United States are managing staffing concerns and challenges in annual budgets for overtime hiring. Callback Staffing, although useful in filling open positions in shifts and providing additional coverage, need careful management to prevent excessive spending and fatigue. TargetSolutions Scheduling™ is a workforce management solution designed by fire service members to help agencies perform and track all data related to callbacks.


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