Guidelines for LOSAP Point System Records

GUIDELINES FOR LOSAP POINT SYSTEM RECORDS

By: Edward J. Holohan of Penflex, Inc.

For over 20 years, Penflex has helped draft hundreds of LOSAP point systems. We’ve performed formal recordkeeping system reviews and spent thousands of hours consulting with clients on point system questions. Over the course of time, we have formulated some simple guidelines for maintaining point system records. Ultimately, it is important that proper controls are in place to ensure the accuracy of the points being recorded.

Tracking Attendance at an Activity: Many departments still use paper sign-in sheets, while others are utilizing technology like key-fobs or biometric readers (palm or fingerprint readers). Importantly, each volunteer must be required to individually sign-in at the event, and not be signed-in by another volunteer. If the volunteer wants to be credited with being at the activity, he/she must sign-in – there should be no exceptions. This will prevent the appearance of fraud upon review.

Ensure Activities are Categorized Correctly: A meeting is not a drill and a drill is not a meeting. Sounds silly to say, but we have seen them miscoded too many times to ignore this obvious point. For planned activities such as a drill, meeting or miscellaneous event, we suggest communicating in advance the type of activity and the points that will be awarded for attending. A call or response is typically any activity in which the department is toned out by dispatch. For those fire departments that also run ambulance/first aid squads, it is important to have procedures in place to specifically indentify the type of call, if points are awarded differently. Having clear procedures for categorizing any activity will eliminate confusion and inconsistencies.

Designing a Sign-in Sheet: For those still using paper sign-in sheets, each sheet should clearly state the date of the event, the type (which corresponds to a point system category – drill, meeting, call, etc.), the time duration (for those events that require a minimum time of participation), the name and rank of the officer in charge at the event and a brief description. Ideally, the attendance sheets are created listing the current active roster, and the volunteer simply signs next to his or her name. The officer in charge should sign the sheet before it is considered complete.

Outside Training & Officer Documentation: After having attended and successfully completed a training course, a copy of the certificate of completion and a description of the course (including date(s) attended and number of course hours) should be submitted and recorded. Points should be awarded in the year in which the course is completed. For officer points, annually the agency’s governing board should prepare a formal listing of all officer positions, showing the volunteer who completed the one-year term for that position, and the number of points awarded for the position.

Compiling Yearly Point Totals: Typically, one person is charged with the responsibility of entering the data from attendance sheets into a spreadsheet or software program. It is recommended for there to be at least one backup person in case the primary becomes unavailable. It is very important that the software match the written point system adopted by the program sponsor. We have seen too often where the software is not tabulating points consistent with the written system. Be sure it is capping the points at the maximum allowable in each category appropriately.

Security: Guarding The Records: All records must be kept in a safe, secure place.  Moreover, the number of persons having access to these records must be limited (we recommend no more than 2 or 3 officers). Finally, the number of persons who have the ability to make changes to the computer system which captures, records and tabulates LOSAP points must be limited and strictly controlled. After the completion of an activity, the signed attendance sheet should be placed in a locked cabinet or a lock box. No more than 2-3 specific persons should have access to the locked files.

 

Edward Holohan is the President and Actuary of Penflex, Inc., a nationally recognized specialist in LOSAP. Ed can be reached at eholohan@penflexinc.com or (518) 783-6933.