Spotlight Customer – Elk River Fire Department, MN




Approximately 35 miles northwest of the "Twin Cities" (Minneapolis & St Paul), in the land of 10,000 lakes, is the City of Elk River, Minnesota, and home to this quarter’s ProPhoenix Customer Spotlight, the Elk River Fire Department. At the helm is Fire Chief, T. John Cunningham, who also is the OEM Director and Safety Coordinator for the City. He also oversees the Building Inspection and Code Enforcement Divisions, which are recent additions to the Fire Department.

 Elk River is bordered by the Mississippi River and is located in the southeast corner of Sherburne County (also a ProPhoenix User). Enjoying a small town atmosphere, where the district covers 66 square miles with an estimated population of 35,000, Chief Cunningham identifies his biggest challenge as meeting the demands of this ever-growing community where response times are critical. There is an expectation of immediate service when a citizen calls 911 to report a fire, and by the time the call is entered, the pagers go off, the on-call personnel report to the station and then respond to the scene, precious moments have elapsed. Qualified personnel retention is also an on-going challenge due to the very nature of a paid, on-call environment, as well as managing all the scheduling aspects.

Elk River is using the entire Fire Suite within Phoenix to their full potential. Chief Cunningham was particularly anxious to use the Inspections Module for the city’s rental dwelling inspection program. "We have completely automated the process for generating renewal notices, scheduling inspections, and processing payments," says Chief Cunningham. Prior to Phoenix, they had been using a variety of methods to track these rental inspections but Phoenix "brought it full circle" by giving them the ability to fully track over 1,000 multi-unit rental inspections annually. On January 2, 2015, Elk River began issuing and tracking rental permits for single family homes and using the Inspections Module for the City’s code enforcement division, which also is under the Fire Department.

Chief Cunningham cites the most compelling reason to use Phoenix is that, "it is a very powerful software tool that provides a fully integrated solution" allowing himself and his personnel to make decisions and leverage all the tools available at their fingertips, especially on-scene, when they truly need them. He further recognizes that Phoenix is not your ordinary Consumer Off-The-Shelf (COTS) software because it allows customization that many departments desire. But, he cautions that Users have to make the commitment to allocate the proper resources to spend the time necessary to get the maximum return on their investment. Chief Cunningham states that this is "powerful technology" that not only assists him to manage his department efficiently, but to achieve the ultimate goal: a complete database of everything there is to know about any property within his jurisdiction. That is members of the Elk River Fire Department continue to work daily to "build a picture of a property and is viewable by all" who value this type of information such as: call takers, dispatchers, firefighters, supervisors, inspectors, and Chiefs as they make critical and rapid decisions every day in their effort to ‘save lives and minimize property damage.’