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Fire districts moving to digital files

Staff Reports
The East Fork Fire Protection District is moving to a digital new system called idtPlans.
Kurt Hildebrand

The East Fork and Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection Districts are making the move into the digital world of fire and life safety plan reviews, permitting, and inspections.

After more than a quarter century of doing business the old-fashioned way, by paper and blueprint submittals followed by a manual mark up, both districts are taking advantage of digital technology and software to conduct state mandated Fire and Life Safety Plan Reviews.

Each agency has current agreements with the Nevada State Fire Marshal to conduct reviews, issue permits, and provide inspection services. The agencies are required to review and issue permits for several different types of projects and work under county and district adopted codes and under the Nevada State Fire Marshal. A complete list of these required plans and permits for submission are available on each District’s respective websites at eastforkfire.org and tahoefire.org.

The coronavirus outbreak served as a catalyst to accelerate the process for the East Fork Fire Protection District.

“While the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District has accepted digital plans for over a year now, we are excited to partner with the new program that offers much better customer service and workflow providing a superior review process, permit program and inspection system.” said Tahoe Douglas Fire Marshal Eric Guevin.

The new system, idtPlans, will allow the districts to improve efficiency, increase transparency, and empower the customer and constituents when submitting plans for review. The software and application is built to allow for the submission of construction documents, permit applications, specifications, and other related development documents in digital format.

“No longer will customers, engineers, architects, or developers have to submit rolls and rolls of paper plans,” East Fork Chief Tod Carlini said. “Due to record retention requirements, East Fork has had to maintain two large shipping containers full of rolled plans and other project documents. We will no longer have to increase this storage space due to the digital plan review process.”

The new program will provide for a customer access portal, customized application forms for each district, an automated workflow, robust security, real time project tracking, online payments, and increased transparency, all on a cloud-based system. idtPlans has more than 18 years of experience in public sector software solutions.

Once the system is up and running, customers will be able to submit their application and plans directly from their office or place of business. As plans are received, the Districts will conduct the review using the Bluebeam software tool, which will provide for digital mark ups and comment tracking. Once complete, instant access is available to the customer to review, amend, question, and comment. Once project plan review approval is received, the customer may then review and schedule inspections for their projects accordingly. Under the current practice, this process can take up to four weeks.

Carlini said digitizing the process has been a long-term objective for East Fork and with coronavirus, has now taken on special meaning in terms of keeping employees and the public safe from possible exposures under a paper process. The district has been accepting plans and applications under a “drop off” and “pick-up” procedure at its County Road Administrative Office since coronavirus took hold in the area.

The new system is set to be officially in place in late September. Several area developers and contractors, have agreed to serve as “system test customers” during the trial period. The desire is to do this right from day one, and to allow input from local customers.

“We appreciate those who are willing to participate in our test trials and offer input on the new process to streamline efficiencies and improve customer service,” Carlini said.

While the digital plan review component is a significant part of the software, the management of district and state required permits and inspections is equally important. The two-click permit creation feature will allow input from the applicant to automatically populate the permit documents. Permits can be issued inside and outside the workflow process to best meet the needs of the agency and the customer.

“The Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District is constantly looking for ways to excel at meeting customer needs and I believe this system will meet our mission values of care, professionalism and respect,” Tahoe Douglas Fire Chief Scott Baker said.

The districts launched the program on Monday.

East Fork Fire Protection District will allow a 60-day transition period where they will still accept paper plans. After that time, only digital plans will be accepted. The applicant may submit digitally through idtPlans or they may have their paper plans scanned into the proper format and then uploaded and submitted digitally. Additional information will be provided as to the specifics of the system once it is ready for public use. For more information, call (775) 782-9040 with questions specific to East Fork or (775) 588-3591 for Tahoe Douglas.