Fire Rescue Authority Goes 100% Digital, Deemed Success Story

Share Article

Woolpert and South Metro Fire Rescue Authority lauded for excellent partnership, saving customers time and money.

We held several training sessions and created training materials for architects, contractors, homeowners – anyone who would be applying for a permit that required a fire department review.

Woolpert and the South Metro Fire Rescue Authority (SMFRA) were honored recently as an Accela Success Story for transitioning the multijurisdictional fire department to 100 percent digital operations.

Accela, a California-based software company that provides civic engagement solutions, honored Woolpert and SMFRA at the Accela Connect Conference in Olympic Valley, Calif., on March 1-4.

Chad Weiffenbach, project manager at Woolpert, and then-SMFRA Deputy Fire Marshal Anthony Valdez spoke at the conference. Valdez, who has since been promoted to fire marshal, said he had wanted the Authority to go 100 percent digital for years.

“We didn’t want to have a transition period between hard copies and digital copies,” Valdez said. “We kind of wanted to rip the Band-Aid off fast. I had had this vision since 2010 to go digital; it just took a while for everyone to buy in.”

SMFRA provides fire safety services to more than 200,000 residents across 176 square miles of Douglas and Arapahoe counties. It is headquartered in Centennial, Colo.

Woolpert is a national architecture, engineering and geospatial firm headquartered in Dayton, Ohio.

At the Accela conference, Weiffenbach and Valdez detailed the critical problems experienced with SMFRA’s 15-year-old software. They defined the many needs of the Authority and discussed the implementation of Accela’s Citizen Access Portal software.

“We talked about what SMFRA’s decision to go totally digital would mean to them, and helped plan what the community outreach would look like,” Weiffenbach said. “We held several training sessions and created training materials for architects, contractors, homeowners – anyone who would be applying for a permit that required a fire department review.”

Woolpert also helped design SMFRA’s website and shape customer experience, and set up training for staff and community members.

“We had some builders come in with plans under their arms and we told them, ‘Here is a great opportunity to learn about the new system.’ We walked them through the process online, and they were trained on the spot!” Weiffenbach said.

Since the implementation in December, SMFRA and its customers have reported multiple benefits and efficiencies gained through the new processes.

“Because of the square mileage covered by SMFRA, people used to have to drive quite a distance to submit plans or apply for permits with the fire department,” Weiffenbach said. “That meant four or more trips to the fire department, even for a small job. It was a huge inconvenience for the Authority’s customers.”

Plan reviews and permit submissions can now be made around the clock from any location, and contractors and citizens can check the status of these and schedule compliance inspections online and from mobile devices at any time.

This upgrade also eliminated front desk traffic, enabled the fire department to reallocate staff and resources more effectively, and helped customers save money by not having to print out plans for submission.

Valdez said the Authority’s partnership with Woolpert was excellent, and he is pleased that they will continue their working relationship through the upcoming implementation of a laserfiche system.

“Woolpert’s team was very competent and helpful during the implementation,” Valdez said. “I describe it as if we were being spoiled by Woolpert. It was excellent working with Woolpert.”

About Woolpert
Woolpert, ranked by Engineering News-Record as a top national design firm, provides professional architecture, engineering and geospatial services to clients in public and private sectors. Founded in 1911, and with more than 600 professionals in 25 offices located throughout the U.S. Woolpert’s IAM-certified asset management professionals use best practices and proven asset/performance management tools to help maximize assets’ life cycles through sustainable infrastructure strategies and investments. Woolpert’s team also implements tools to automate and streamline the permitting process, reducing the time, resources and complications associated with disparate permitting systems. For more information on Woolpert, visit

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Jill Kelley
+1 (937) 531-1258
Email >
Follow >
Like >
Visit website