As a former fire chief, I know all too well that no matter the era, first responder agencies –large and small—located all over the United States make tight budgets stretch as far as they can. The most rural volunteer fire departments struggle to afford new vehicles and equipment or even basic maintenance. Many struggle with making the best purchasing decisions with limited funds.
That’s where DHS S&T can help. Our System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders (SAVER) program, provides agencies an easy-to-use resource to enhance their purchasing decisions and maximize grant funding. And thanks to a recent change, this information has been made, searchable, filterable and easier to use.
Our National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) manages SAVER, a program set up by DHS more than 12 years ago. In that time, we have published more than 1,000 SAVER reports for first responders, providing impartial, practitioner relevant, operationally oriented assessments and validations of emergency response equipment.
The goal: cost and time savings to federal, state and local responders as they decide which equipment to purchase. NUSTL works with first responders to select and prioritize program topics, develops SAVER reports, coordinates with other organizations, and ensures flexibility and responsiveness to first responder requirements.
The SAVER program assesses technology based on five criteria: affordability, capability, deployability, maintainability and usability. It focuses primarily on two main questions for the emergency responder community: “What equipment is available?” and “How does it perform?” The program focuses on making it easier for first responders to see the pros and cons, review the specs, and make a better purchasing decision as a result.
SAVER reports are free to download and written in plain language—“consumer reports” style. They provide comparisons of technology and capture end-user feedback. Importantly, they are searchable by 21 FEMA Authorized Equipment List (AEL) categories to facilitate the opportunity to align grant funds to AEL equipment.
For more information and to get the latest reports each month, visit the SAVER webpage. Have you used SAVER reports to guide a technology purchase? Are there technologies that you’d like to see evaluated? Send us your feedback at NUSTL@hq.dhs.gov.