Category Archives: Success Story

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Fire Prevention Staff

From paper nightmare to electronic efficiency

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Norman Loudermilk, the Assistant Fire Chief of Terre Haute Fire Department knew after search nine months for a fire inspection; things needed to change.

Our entire operation was kept on paper, we had nine filing cabinets housing fire inspections based on the month they were completed. There was no backup, no data management and no checks and balances. It was poor record keeping at best. Furthermore, business owners could change business locations and we had no way to track previous violations; no way to track trends in their multiple locations or trends in a single structure after multiple businesses occupied it.

Nine months to find a previous inspection report

In one incident, we had a fire hazard reported at a business. It took nine months to find the previous inspection. We found that sometimes old inspections were thrown away. In addition, signatures of owners were not required on inspections, which left us to wonder in some cases if inspections were done.

This was unacceptable. We needed accountability and a better way to serve our community. I searched the web for software companies and quickly became overwhelmed. It felt like a large undertaking. While attending a NFPA Certification class in Lafayette, Indiana; I spoke with Fire Marshal, Brian Alkire about my frustration and he told me about Codepal. After several discussions and seeing their reports, I visited the Codepal website. I was ready to make a change, I just needed the right tools.

I met with Lafayette Fire Department and the Codepal sales staff. Lafayette’s department is a mirror of ours, so I was able to see the software used in a real environment, not a boxed demo. I liked the Lafayette set up, but felt the investigation piece was lacking. I was sold when I heard “Tell us what you want, and we’ll provide it” by Codepal sales staff. Why recreate the wheel, just make it better? We purchased a pre-designed Lafayette’s set up and worked with the Codepal staff to design an investigation piece that suited our needs. The collaboration between departments and the ability to share ideas on how to use the software has been a bonus.

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Codepal helped us get on the right track

We went from 3000 business inspections in nine filing cabinets to everything on the server available on 3 surface pros’. I have access to every inspection based on business or owner and I can see all the details of any given inspection. It’s cross referencing and easy to use. With Codepal, it’s like Terre Haute Fire, take two. We’re building what we want, the way we want it. We’re collecting signatures in the field electronically and emailing reports instantly. This was imperative to verify every inspection is done. Customers are happier, and it has increased our visibility in the community. We’re able to complete our tasks quicker and we’re inspecting every property. Our department went from an average of 2 inspections a day/ 710 businesses annually, to 16-20 inspections a day*. We are looking at adding a new inspector and have the evidence to back up the request.

We are approaching the one-year mark of using Codepal and reaching our first round of next annual inspections. I suspect these numbers will increase now that we have the initial inspections set.

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Codepal gave us a system with checks and balances and keeps us in line with the law. Our Investigation reports have been challenged in the court system and held up. Everything is in chronological order and stood up against scrutiny making convictions easier.

Codepal’s #1 selling point, outside the software, has been their support staff. From sales to support, the staff is outstanding. We’re able to call when we have any questions or changes. Laws change and processes change, Codepal is always able to help us make the necessary changes.

*based on an average day with no fire investigations

Norm Loudermilk – Assistant Chief

Terre Haute Fire Department
Terre Haute, Indiana

Norm Loudermilk
Norm has been the assistant Fire Chief for 16 months. He has 11 years of experience with the Terre Haute Police Department, 17 years’ experience with the Fire Department and has served 20 years on the City Council.

Congratulations to the Fire Prevention Bureau on being named Fire Prevention Division of The Year for the State of Indiana by the Fire Inspectors Association of Indiana. The award was given at annual conference banquet in South Bend.

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Burke County Staff

Making the right decisions for your organization

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When Mike started with the team, he was looking for a way to streamline their processes, take the guess work out of where to find reports, and use a program that wasn’t frustrating and unreliable. “The office was still operating on paper, some of the forms still using carbon paper. Inspection billing was being done on a DOS-based system that was created in 1995, it was unreliable, difficult to manipulate and lacking reporting detail capabilities. Inspection records were in various locations depending on which inspector completed them. Inspection schedules were difficult to maintain. Fire Investigation records were equally antiquated.” He feared that the DOS program would crash, and they’d lose years of records. He needed a better solution than rows of filing cabinets and reams of paper.

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Mike found himself searching for an inspection/billing software to assist his office in streamlining their work, making them more efficient. “Several months of evaluation and demonstrations of various software packages led us to decide on Codepal. The Codepal Team was willing to listen to our needs/wants and committed to doing everything possible to adapt the software to our operation. “

Codepal’s Customer Experience Model is a welcome change from software purchases in the past.

“The customer service is outstanding; the whole team is willing to help. Not once do I recall anyone from Codepal saying ‘we can’t do that’. No matter how off the wall our requests were, everyone was receptive to helping us.” Codepal met with his team face to face to analyze their processes and then came back to spend three days with the staff, training them. “The training was geared to our level. I have experienced software training that would be very difficult for those who may be unfamiliar with computer/database operations. Codepal’s training was spot on, from how to turn it on to the depths of the system capabilities. They were very patient and understanding of where our staff was with the old process and where we needed to go with Codepal.”

“We now have a system that allows us to build electronic data that can be viewed quickly. We analyze data in countless ways and improve inspection scheduling. We maintain accurate/timely business names and locations. We’ve increased customer satisfaction by being able to email inspection reports and invoices immediately after the inspection. We added a means to incorporate Emergency Management calls for service into the package so that good data can be tracked. And we provide an effective Fire investigation database, just to name a few goals we’ve achieved.”

BCEM customers have noticed the changes too. “The biggest compliment we’ve received so far would be from the school system. They were very pleased after inspector Chad Houston went through all the county schools and provided a finished report at the end of the inspection. He emailed it immediately to all the parties within the school system at one time. They were impressed.”

With Codepal reports, Mike was able to decide how to handle invoicing.

While each Codepal customer chooses how they will invoice their customers, BCEM chose to include fee listings in their initial inspection report. “We seem to have an increase in payments, but it’s still too early to have a solid number of how much of an increase. So far, the customers seem to be more receptive to paying.” This could be from an increase in communication through reporting or it could be the way the process has changed. Regardless, increased revenue will aid any office.

“I’m sure there will be more as we work through the acclimation process. We’re still in the learning curve. Since we are a small county, our inspection volume is not overwhelming. Our staff continues to learn the capabilities of the software and discover its potential. Since we are somewhat old school, the whole electronic process is still challenging for the staff, each day gets a little easier for them.”

Communication is key in any industry, having software that helps prevent a breakdown of communication can be key to a successful office. With the right tools, you can gain knowledge of any situation. “For me as the Director, it is very helpful to have access to what’s going on in any given time frame. At a simple click, I can see about anything I need to, concerning our operations. I look forward to learning more about the Codepal experience!”

While finding the right software is crucial, the bonus is partnering with a friendly, knowledgeable software company, having them on your side assisting you along the way. “Everyone we have dealt with at Codepal has ALWAYS greeted our staff with a friendly, helpful and positive attitude, even when it’s the 3rd or 4th call of the day for the simple things we just didn’t remember from training.”

“These are some of the best folks I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and working with.”

Michael Willis - Burke County Fire Marshal
Michael Willis Burke County Fire Marshal / Emergency Management Director

Mike has been working in the
Emergency Service field for 36
years. Beginning as a volunteer
firefighter and eventually moving
into a career position. State
certified in several areas including
Firefighter, Emergency Vehicle
Driver/Operator, Fire Prevention,
Investigation, Hazardous Materials,
Emergency Medical Technician
and Instructor qualifications.
Became interested in the
Emergency Management side of
the service deciding to pursue
formal education and further
training in Emergency
Management. Currently serving as
Burke County Fire
Marshal/Emergency Management
Director. Credentialed as an
Operation Section Chief with the
NC AHIMT. (All Hazards Incident
Management Team)