Speaker: Fred Windisch, Fire Chief, Ponderosa Fire Department
Please introduce yourself. Describe your agency and the community you serve.
Fred Windisch: Hello, this is Fred Windisch, Ponderosa Fire Department, in the Houston, Texas area. We are a smaller combination department with three stations. We have 27 full time positions, a group of about 25 part-time and 12 volunteers. As typical in our area, volunteers are hard to come by, especially with the with the number of runs that we make. We are an ISO rated department. I've been with the department since 1975. Started as a pure volunteer and we progressed over the decades to become a pretty strong combination agency. I'm actively involved with the International Association of Fire Chiefs and I'm on the Volunteering Combination officers Section Board of Directors since its inception in 1995. Actually the volunteer committee prior to them. So it's been a good ride. Everything's good. I've written a book called "The Leadership Guide" for combination fire departments. So I was a Volunteer Chief of the Year then for Fire Chief Magazine in 2000 and I've been blessed with a 53 year marriage, 52 year old son who is Deputy Chief with us and Battalion Chief with the Woodlands Fire Department full-time. Everything is good. Our grandson Cody just graduated Fire Academy and is gonna be 24 pretty quick and he just signed on to Lake Conroe Fire Department. He starts next week in fact, so everything is good health is good and I appreciate PSTrax as an organization.
What solution(s) did you use before PSTrax? What challenges were you having?
Fred Windisch: Prior to our marriage to PSTrax we were doing the typical checklist clipboards, pencils and paper and lions and tigers and bears and everything was a mess. And this guy called Scott popped in and said, "Hey, I have a new product I'm putting on the market. It's called PSTrax." Typical of my personality, I gave him a hard time and we eventually became very good friends, in fact. I could go on with that but we will get into the details. PSTrax changed the way we do business. PSTrax allows us to communicate at such a high level now to where we're actually, our people understand problems better, and they report them better, and they get fixed better and faster. I don't know what more to ask for from PSTrax.
Why was PSTrax the right fit? How are you using it at your agency?
Fred Windisch: We started with the vehicle and station checklist, which again was just a huge step for us. As we learned it, we found out how powerful it was and how much value it added to our operations, our efficiency, and taking care of business - daily business, hour by hour, minute by minute. And it actually accelerated the way our people communicated with one another. We, a couple three years ago, by the way we got PSTrax in 2016, so we're one of the early adopters and then a couple of years ago we got the assets portion of it and again, everything is just working absolutely fine. We rely on it every single day.
What's the best thing about PSTrax? What specific results have you achieved?
Fred Windisch: I spoke earlier about the improvements that have caused that impacted our organization. I can't overemphasize the way it allows us to do our business. It is so simple, it is so effective. We have the right people who get the same notices, they're actively involved. They even, I mean they put silly stuff on which really isn't silly. You know the light bulb, the headlights burned out. You know, in my world, I say we'll fix the headlight and don't put a PSTrax but there's more to the story. When you put something like that, it shows that they care about what they're doing and that they're telling someone, they're communicating which is our human trait that doesn't work too well, and it allows us to fix the problem. So many times in the past, the headlight would be burned after a week until somebody with enough gumption, old word for us old people, but had enough gumption to come up and fix the headlight. Now it's automated. What a great deal.
Would you recommend PSTrax? And why?
Fred Windisch: I would recommend PSTrax for a couple of really, really important reasons. Number one the people that work at PSTrax are helpful, they're friendly, they're nice, they understand and they're willing to work with us. We in the field aren't always the smartest when it comes to using software , especially new software, but they were so helpful at the beginning, and are still helpful as we've been with them for over six years now. And so it's something to look forward to, not to use my typical complaints against IT. This IT solution really is a great innovation and I know there are competitors out there but I believe, and I firmly believe, that PSTrax is the best on the market. It's the best bang for the buck. I mean they even have a loyalty program that reduces your cost a little bit. Anything in today's world is great when it talks about reducing costs because things are going crazy right now.