Despite a long gestation period and initial reluctance from users, the New
South Wales Fire Brigade’s transition to its new IT system has been fairly
In fact, the team met all of its goals for the first phase of the project:
; Create a dependable system
; Achieve 100 percent use by operational commanders and operational
; Gain an accurate view of firefighter location down to station level
; Get firefighters paid correctly and on time
“It’s been a win-win for everyone,” says Sean Nairn, New South Wales
And the feedback about the new system has been so overwhelmingly
positive that plans for phase two are already under way.
Within the next year, Mr. Nairn hopes to move the system down to the
station level so each station head can enter data, a task currently handled
only by duty commanders.
Some of these firefighters
had been using the old
system for 25 years, and
we targeted them with
extra training and support
because we felt if
we could win these
people over, the newer
managers would follow.
simple enough for non-computer literate
people to use.”
ONE OF THEIR OWN
While developing the software, Mr.
Nairn hosted a number of forums to
update employees about the project, get
suggestions and give them a sense of
He also brought in one of their peers,
Robert McGowan, to advise the developers from an operational perspective.
“I explained how the duty commanders
and managers do their daily human
resources management/change of shift
and suggested how it would be done in
SAM,” says Mr. McGowan, inspector at
the New South Wales Fire Brigade. “We
tried to base a lot of the SAM functions
on the paper-based processes so the
change wouldn't be too great.”
Using the new software, for example, a manager can fill gaps by clicking
on a firefighter’s name and dragging it
to the station that needs a resource.
The next day, that firefighter would
automatically return to his or her base
Despite the benefits, Mr. Nairn
knew he still had to get people to actually use the system.
“The IT section would never have
been able to do this alone,” he says. “I
needed someone to be a front man and
sell SAM to his or her peers to ensure
they would use it.”
That front man was Mr. McGowan.
His background as a teacher, and
his long and varied career as a firefighter meant that he had a rapport
with his colleagues. And that made
him the obvious choice for training
and supporting the staff members as
they learned the new system.
“I am definitely not an IT guru,
which I think was an advantage in my
role,” says Mr. McGowan.