Case Study: Kingston Fire & Rescue

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Why Lean?

The fire service is embedded with a strong history and culture of tradition. Throughout the years change has occurred out of necessity and we have developed operations through necessity. I wanted to take a modern business approach and quantify a process to enhance efficiency and improve our business processes.  Lean provides a unique perspective which can identify waste, provide consistent service delivery and inspire morale and growth. I didn’t want to rely on past practice to determine future operations.    

Chief Rhéaume Chaput

The Challenge:

The fire service has developed based on a long history of tradition and reactive service delivery.  Kingston Fire & Rescue (KFR) was experiencing demands for inspections and complaint requests which created disruption to flow and planning for proactive and focused inspections and enforcement.  As a result, this was causing shifting priorities with little control on time management and efficiency plus creating frustration as the staff knew they could do a better job if some of the ‘wasteful’ activities were removed.

There were two main goals –

  1. to make the ‘inspection’ process FLOW and eliminate the waste such as rework, searching for information, redundant activities, inconsistent procedures and increase the value activities versus the non-value.
  2. to learn a new more effective structured change method that creates sustainable change across the ‘system’ and moves us away from ‘point’ improvements that don’t allow us to meet our expectations.

The Action:

Lean Advisors worked with KFR Fire prevention and administration staff on a customized process to examine, analyze, and detail the transformation plan for the end-to-end process at their site over a very intensive 5 days.  The focus/goal was diverse and challenging – to resolve the complaint and request inspections process to reduce waste and improve efficiencies while maintaining customer focused service delivery.  The staff was provided a one-day training session on “Lean” concepts and then immediately applied these concepts to both understand (‘see’) their current state and then develop a new way of operating in the form of a Future State and Future State Implementation Plan.

The Outcome: Quality, Cost and Time (lead time)

    • Annual financial savings of in excess of $255,000.00 was identified
      • $98,000 in actual processing time
      • $65,000 in delays in processing requests and complaints
      • $27,000 in processing defects
      • $138,000 in other non-value activities

The Learnings:

They learned that “Lean” is not about job reduction but about increasing capacity.  The identified savings resulted in increasing the team’s capacity, thus enabling a 25% reduction in lead time for processing requests and complaints, and reducing the inventory of work in progress.  The results of ‘their’ plan will also reduce the stress and frustration they feel for not being able to complete their work at the quality and speed they expect.

The cross-functional Kaizen Event team was the primary factor in achieving these results.

They recognized that there was an opportunity to improve their processes and be able to increase ‘value’ within their processes. As a pilot, the team decided to look at their Inspection process. They knew it was a critical process for the safety of the citizens in the City and any improvements would allow them to accomplish more and do it quicker and better.

Neville Murphy, Deputy Chief