Located in the fourth fastest-growing city in the state, the Leander (TX) Fire Department protects a total area of 34 square miles. The department’s 67 uniformed firefighters and 9 volunteers have been using Lexipol since 2019.
When David Lincoln became Battalion Chief of the Leander Fire Department (LFD) in 2007, he began reviewing the department’s policies and procedures. “Like most fire departments, our policies were ‘borrowed’ from another department. Previous chiefs would call around asking other departments if they had a policy for whatever they were trying to update, and then try to mold the borrowed policy to fit our department,” he says. “That didn’t always work, so we wound up with policies that were odd, and hard to adapt to our department’s growth.”
An additional challenge: the inability to efficiently update a policy across divisions within the department. “In the system we were using at the time, it was hard to collaborate or have more than one person working on a policy,” Chief Lincoln says. “Training would make changes and then send them to Operations; then they would make their changes and send it back. We would end up with a really long email chain and it took forever.”
While the department had dealt with these issues for some time, a new challenge emerged: The LFD decided to pursue accreditation through the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) but was reluctant to begin the process until they knew their policies and procedures were solid.
Understanding that fire policy lays the groundwork for operational excellence, the LFD needed a policy solution that would help the department through their rapid growth and the intensive accreditation process. “The big stimulus for our department was accreditation. That’s what flipped the switch to lead us to Lexipol’s Fire Policies and Procedures,” Chief Lincoln says. “I knew that Lexipol and the product would play a huge role in how we move forward with our strategic planning. Lexipol incorporates statutes and law into the policy, making it a solid document. We can show we have a policy and training plan for every situation.”
In addition to providing policies the LFD could trust, the accessibility of Lexipol’s online platform allowed the department to collaborate on policy revisions. “From an administration standpoint, I can put something into draft, and we can all put our fingers on it. I can make suggestions or edits, and those updates can be in progress while the policy is still out there for my staff to read,” Chief Lincoln says.
To help the review and implementation process go more smoothly, the LFD took advantage of Lexipol’s Implementation Services. “We had meetings with the implementation specialist every other week. He was easy to work with and available by phone or email all the time,” Chief Lincoln says. “I was able to ask questions and go over what was completed and what still needed to be done.”
This experience underscored that the LFD had made the right decision in selecting Lexipol. “You don’t always get the assistance that’s promised, but we got that with Lexipol. The implementation specialist continually checked to see how they could help or how they could fill in gaps. If we didn’t have that sounding board, we might still be trying to fill those gaps, and I don’t think we could have implemented in a timely fashion,” Chief Lincoln says.
Well into the first year of the accreditation process, the LFD now has confidence its policies are kept up to date and specific to the department’s needs. “The primary result: We have the best set of policies and procedures since I’ve been here. They make more sense, and we can easily update and change them as needed,” Chief Lincoln says. “As things change, such as NFPA guidelines or legislation, those updates come out to us via Lexipol. We are more productive because we’re not stuck weeks on end trying to review policies.”
The accessibility of the new policies had a positive impact on the entire department. “The staff couldn’t wait for the implementation. They were ready a year prior to implementation,” Chief Lincoln says. “It was exciting for our staff because it’s a better platform for our policies and procedures that’s user-friendly. It keeps the staff familiar with the policies and procedures.”
By providing 24/7 access to policies from mobile devices, the LFD is also able to hold firefighters more accountable. “It’s super easy to push policy updates to staff and get an acknowledgment back,” Chief Lincoln says. “With my experience as an end-user, and in every interaction with Lexipol, everyone has been outstanding. Everyone from Lexipol is committed to the product, and it shows.”