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May 28. 2014 9:55PM

New technology improves Goffstown fire department's efficiencies


Fire Chief Richard O’Brien adjusts a tablet in one of Goffstown’s fire trucks (JULIE HANSON/Union Leader Correspondent)

.New tools at hand: Goffstown Fire Department is using tablets and new apps to improve dispatch.

GOFFSTOWN — Cloud-based technology is helping the Goffstown Fire Department improve efficiencies.

The department integrated tablets loaded with special apps and software with the CAD system at Goffstown dispatch to provide a low-cost solution to communication needs, according to Fire Chief Richard O’Brien.

In the past, the department has relied on ruggedized laptops designed to withstand severe environments. Each laptop cost about $4,500. Over the past year or two, technology has evolved to allow better results using tablets at a cost of less than $500 each, O’Brien said.

This year, instead of investing nearly $9,000 for two ruggedized laptops scheduled for replacement the department was able to purchase tablets for each apparatus.

“We found out really great software and apps already out there for first responders,” O’Brien said.

The Goffstown Fire Department is fully staffed during the day, but relies on fewer personnel in the station and on-call staff at night. When a call was dispatched, it wasn’t immediately known how many people were responding or which of the town’s three stations they were reporting to.

New software called “I am Responding” posts who’s responding at each location on a screen in the station. Personnel in the station can begin preparing the equipment and decide if mutual aid or a second call is needed. The information helps responders tremendously, O’Brien said.

“Seconds really do count, whether it’s a medical emergency or a fire and this software helps us respond the best way we can,” O’Brien said.

The “I am Responding” software costs about $800 annually, which O’Brien said the department saves in efficiencies alone.

The new technology assists personnel throughout the call. The screen turns red when the dispatcher sounds the alert and the address appears on the screen, eliminating the possibility of a firefighter mishearing an address over the audio system.

Emergency vehicle progress to the scene is tracked on screen with traffic alerts. Fire hydrants within 1,000 feet of the location are mapped out.

Crews can use Street View to get an idea of the size of the building and the neighborhood before arriving on the scene.

Programs to make the job safer are also loaded on the tablets. If a preplan has been completed, personnel can reference the report before they arrive to become aware of any possible hazards.

Battery packs and electrified cables in hybrid cars can pose a challenge to firefighters. The new tablets contain diagrams of each hybrid model marking areas that should not be cut during an extrication.

“It’s that kind of technology that we’re going to capitalize on with the tablets, so first responders have the information at their fingertips,” O’Brien said.

jhanson@newstote.com


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