Fire department upgrades technology, tracking system

Fire department upgrades technology, tracking system
By Greg Wiseman
Melfort Journal
Link to article: Fire department upgrades technology, tracking system

Fire chief Paul See demonstrates the IamResponding program which will help keep track of firefighters and allow a plan of attack to be made on structure fires.

When seconds it’s important to know where your team and develop a plan as soon as possible.

To help with that the Melfort Fire Department has installed a new alert system which works through cell phones and keeps track of responding members.

“The one thing is with an on call department is you don’t know how many people are coming. Now we have it right there so we know and we know how long they are going to be,” said Melfort fire chief Paul See.

The IamResponding system is live at the fire hall and was installed by firefighter Ryan Woolsey.

Before the system firefighters had a pager that would go off when there was an emergency.

Now the volunteers receive a text message with a tone different than a regular text message, asking if they are responding. They simply touch Y for yes or N for no.
Then they are tracked en route to the fire hall, letting others who are at the base know if teammates are close by and they can wait a few seconds to get the trucks rolling or if who is in their turnout gear is who will be going to the scene.

“What I like about it is you know whose coming because there are times where there are two or three people here and do you take the truck and go or do you wait and no one comes or three hop in the  truck and you get to this first set of lights and there are three more (firefighters) at the light. Now you have an idea of whose responding,” See said.

The program, which uses a bird’s eye view of the city  through Google maps, can give directions to locations in the city and in some other nearby communities.

Although land locations  are not available yet, the mapping will help officers make a plan of attack when while they are responding.

It shows some large landmarks like schools and pinpoints the locations of all the hydrants in the city.

“I can see where we are going and I know there is a hydrant here so we leave this way and come down here and catch the hydrant and go to your place,” he said pointing to the large screen which highlighted the quickest route to a home.

The program keeps track of which firefighters are unavailable for whatever reason so arrangements can be made.

It also helps dealing with larger emergencies when they happen.

For example if the department is out on a call and another comes in the chief has all the information available on his cell phone to know who is left in the city to respond.

There is also aftercare of the fire fighters as well.

The program has it set up to monitor firefighters for 10 minutes after they leave the hall following a call.

“Say it’s 3 a.m. and I know you live here and if you are stuck here or your car broke down it gives us a little security also.”

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