FireLab

CREATING WEB AND MOBILE APPS TO

Digitize commercial fire safety inspections

Tech Stack

AngularJavaMySQLReact Native

Expertise

Custom Software DevelopmentDigital Strategy & ConsultingMobile App Development

The background

Fire safety inspections are a legal requirement for all residential and commercial buildings in the US. For years, the process has been manual and time-consuming, involving filling out and submitting paper forms by hand. In the digital age, this time-consuming process seems outdated and prone to error.

FireLab wanted to develop a range of software solutions aimed at bringing fire safety inspections into the 21st century. It needed a partner that could create both a mobile app to streamline the data input process and an automation solution to make the whole process simpler, faster and more accurate.

This solution had the potential to transform a process that impacts the private and working lives of millions of Americans each year. Of course, we jumped at the chance to be involved.

The challenge

The task of digitizing fire safety inspections was not a simple one. There were two significant barriers to success that stood in our way. Firstly, Wi-Fi and mobile data availability on inspection sites was a major concern. Fire safety equipment is installed across all floors in a building, including rooftops and basements where Wi-Fi signal and mobile data are either unavailable or unreliable. To make sure the right data is captured comprehensively and fully via a mobile device, our solution had to work regardless of whether mobile connectivity was available or not.

Secondly, the sheer amount of data that needed to be collected increased the complexity of our work. To complete a fire safety inspection, inspectors need to record around 200 data points on several different forms. Every building has a unique fire safety equipment configuration that changes based on architecture, number of floors, and floor area among other things. This meant inspectors would need to access the forms in a different order for every building they entered.

The solution

The app we developed with FireLab allows inspectors to use their smart phone to complete their jobs more efficiently, at no extra cost to fire inspection companies. The mobile and web app and supporting backend now handles the data capture, report generation and inspector signature processes.

For the web app, we developed three dashboards:

  • Fire inspection company – allows administrators of fire inspection companies to add and assign fire safety inspectors and buildings to the system.
  • Fire safety inspector – inspectors can retrieve, modify and remove old reports, generate and digitally sign new reports, on their chosen mobile device.
  • Admin – enables the company's administrators to generate billing reports, manage user account permissions, and manage customer accounts.

For the mobile app that would be used by inspectors during their daily activities, we implemented:

  • A third-party tool that allowed inspectors to sign the reports digitally using a stylus.
  • An open-source solution that generated PDF reports from HTML files with the press of a button, right from their mobile devices.
  • Auto-save so the application saves information to the backend in real time as inspectors input data into the forms.
  • Data caching to store information when inspectors are in locations in the building with weak signal - and when Wi-Fi or mobile data becomes available again, the form data is relayed back to the server automatically by the app for saving into database.
  • We designed the menu in a way that users can get to any screen in no more than two clicks.

The impact

The solution is helping drive digital transformation across the fire inspection industry. It is not only making inspectors’ lives easier but helping to reduce errors and speed up the entire inspection process. With all reports generated stored in a centralized cloud, the app is also helping to reduce logistical issues, clerical work hours and costs.