Wood Dale Fire District Completes 1,019 Pre-Incident Plans

By: Battalion Chief Chris Steines

Wood Dale Fire District

The Wood Dale Fire District is pleased to announce that we have completed 1,019 pre-incident plans, covering every pertinent building in our district. Our pre-plans are now also easily accessible from the computers in each rig and from any handheld device during response.


The Wood Dale Fire District needed to implement a sustainable pre-planning program to complete, maintain, and easily access pre-incident plans on all commercial occupancies.


We recently completed our 3-year goal of having pre-plans for all of our pertinent buildings within our fire district, over 1,000 commercial structures. Duty crews use these pre-plans every day during response.

Main Goals

The Process

Choosing a Program

Ineffective Paper Pre-Incident Plans

Before discovering FlowMSP, Wood Dale Fire District never had a great pre-incident plan program. Pre-plans were old and hand-drawn and kept in a 3-ring binder in the BC car. There was no follow up or uniformity to the ones that we had. The total number that we had was about 20-25, so it was not an effective program.

In 2013 I took over Training and Lt. Walker took over Fire Prevention. We decided to bring back pre-incident plans and to try and get a better program. However, the pre-plans were still being completed and printed out. Like before, each person had their own way of doing them, and they were not uniform or easy to decipher.

ISO: The Turning Point

2018 was a big year as we received an ISO evaluation and also got a new Fire Chief. Our evaluation went well, and we moved from a 3 to a solid 2. We did however take a hit for our lack of pre-plans. In those ISO evaluations, the pre-plans are part of the training points.

I asked to take this program over at that time. My new Fire Chief and Deputy Chief went to the IL Chiefs Seminar and came back with details about FlowMSP. We had an orientation with the neighboring departments already using the program, and WDFD signed on.

Department Buy-In

When it comes to department buy-in, the entire department participates in the pre-planning program. The program itself is exactly what I wanted it to be, and my fellow firefighters quickly got on board with the program. Here we are three years later, and I am still a huge fan and use the program on every call I go on as a Battalion Chief.

We have also integrated FlowMSP into an officer development program. We encourage our officers and acting officers to use the program to help locate the property, hydrant location and flow, building construction, and any fire protection systems in place. We also use the routing from the hand-held devices in each rig.

Completing Phase 1 Pre-Incident Plans

Wood Dale Fire District contained 1,019 commercial buildings which needed pre-incident plans. We broke the work into manageable chunks, dividing the pre-planning tasks into phases. The Wood Dale Fire District recently announced that we completed Phase 1 of our pre-plan program.

We have called the last three years our Phase 1 of pre-planning. The goal of Phase 1 was to get a base layer of pre-plan information for every commercial building. That way, no matter which location our crews responded to, they had a piece of up-to-date, helpful information to aid tactical decision-making.

Phase 1 included our duty crews going to all 1,019 buildings and walking around/through them, while also taking pictures. We designated buildings as high hazard and completed a survey on each of them, then added it to each pre-plan as a PDF. The survey sheet let us know the location of the Knox box, alarm panel, utilities, hazards, fire protection systems, and construction type.

During Phase 1, we also traced some apartment buildings in large complexes top help our people find them. We did not do a complete pre-plan on them because we have access issues getting into peoples’ homes. However, we included exterior photos, apartment unit designations, parking areas, and building access, which we indicated on each pre-plan.

Dividing Labor

Pre-plans for these 1,019 buildings included thousands of pictures and diagrams that were entered by the firefighters as they walked around/through the buildings. To get the work done, we took all of our properties and divided them equally across all three duty crew shifts.

Then, each shift gave me a representative that could run their shift’s pre-planning tasks. This was efficient because I could check in with each representative, and they would then go to the firefighters to make sure everything was done correctly.

Each shift will keep their assigned pre-incident plans until Phase 2 is complete. After that, we will rotate annually, which will allow each member to view all 1,019 pre-plans every three years.

Prioritizing Pre-Incident Planning Tasks

To prioritize the tasks, first we designated our High Hazard buildings in the district and completed those. Then, we worked our way through the medium hazards. Finally, we completed the low hazard properties.

At Wood Dale Fire District, Mondays were our pre-plan days, and crews would also work on other days when things were slow. We made it part of training and sent the crews out every Monday to do pre-plans.

If they caught a call, they picked up where they left off when the call was complete. Pre-planning was very fluid, and if a crew was busy on a Monday, they would complete it on their next shift (Thursday).

No Overtime Expenses

At WDFD we had the duty crews do all of the pre-planning. We do not have light duty (injured employees doing office type work), so we did not have that option. And we did not allocate (nor did we ask for) any overtime to this endeavor. All members were on shift while this was being done, logging the activity as training hours.

According to our training records, we logged 1,484 hours of Pre-plan Training into the pre-plan program. I am fortunate to have a young and dedicated department that enjoys training. It is not viewed as punishment, but instead is viewed as what it truly is: an opportunity to learn more and perfect our craft.

It was easy to make this part of our regular training. Mondays are Pre-plan Day, Tuesday-Thursday are Fire Company Training Days, and Fridays are EMS/Paramedic Training. It was just a regular part of our training program with no additional costs to the Fire District.

Beginning Phase 2 Pre-Incident Plans

We are now entering Phase 2 where our members will complete the following:

  1. Addresses: Confirm location pin drop in Google Maps by typing in the address and making sure it drops in the correct spot.
  2. Survey: Check for accuracy and completion. Some have errors in building construction types.
  3. Hydrants: Edit the designated hydrants for each building to be the ones that we want. Some default hydrants are across railroad tracks or adjacent streets.
  4. Building data: Update along with the survey. There are some errors that need corrected.
  5. Pictures: We want the pictures in the same order for all pre-plans. This will make things uniform and easier for the BC’s. We want an aerial picture first (for location purposes), the alarm panel and its location annotated, and all four sides of each building with annotations for key items such as Knox box and utility shutoffs.

We have most of those things completed already, but they need to be cleaned up. After this, we plan on having crews pull a pre-plan every Monday and go to the site. Then, we will have the crews discuss how they would operate there for an emergency incident. We plan on this being an ongoing program and training opportunity here at WDFD.

From this point on, the WDFD will review these pre-plans annually, and the FPB will let us know of any occupancy changes or new construction. This is a cohesive working relationship with our Fire Prevention Bureau.

Benefits to WDFD and the Community

Incident Mitigation

Our crews use FlowMSP while responding to every call to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and life safety of the firefighters. First, the mapping portion (tied to our CAD) shows us the exact location of the call and if there is a pre-plan for the location. We can also get turn-by-turn routing to our calls so we can get there quickly.

Then, if there is a pre-plan in place, it will pop up and allow crews to see the mapped location of the incident, details of the building construction, any fire protection systems in place, Knox Box and alarm panel location, hydrant locations, and pictures of all sides of the building with utilities annotated. We know the 360 before we arrive.

Finally, all pre-incident plan information is automatically shared with neighboring departments when they respond to our calls. The second engine into the incident can look up the hydrant’s locations and water main size while they are responding. This makes operations more efficient and effective when they arrive on scene.

Impacting Our ISO Rating

With the work our department has done, we anticipate a favorable outcome on our next ISO review. Because we missed points in pre-planning last time, we hope to capture the full amount of available points next time. FlowMSP is helping us prepare for our next ISO evaluation, so we are looking forward to it and hope to see an improvement in our score.

Summary of Pre-Incident Plan Activities

Over the last 3 years, WDFD crews have completed the following:

• Verified and corrected 500-600 addresses with Google Maps so that the red pin drops in the correct spot
• Color-coded 1,100 hydrants and entered the NFPA flow and color along with the water main size for
each hydrant
• Traced 1,019 buildings/POI in the fire district to provide building square footage and required fire flow for each structure
• Walked through approximately 600+ buildings and completed a detailed pre-incident plan. Also added pictures and Google Earth imaging
• Determined hydrant locations for all unincorporated areas. The closet hydrant will light
up for each address in those areas. If two hydrants are the same distance, then both will light up. This lets
us know where to set up a water operation if needed.

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