Firefighters using technology to respond to fires


LITTLE HARBOUR – The last thing one might think about when they have a serious injury or fire in their home is who is going to come help after 9-1-1 is called.

But that is always a concern to the firefighters who have been called to the scene, hoping there will be enough man power to get the job done.

Thanks to a newer cellphone application, fire departments are more in tune with who is able to attend.

“There’s a very good app for cellphones called ‘I Am Responding’. When you get a call (for a fire or rescue) alerts are sent to your phone,” explains Jim Fraser, deputy chief of the Little Harbour Fire Department.

Fraser says the Little Harbour Fire Department has been using the app for close to four years and it has been an excellent tool.

“We still have our radios and pagers, but this gives that added tool.”

When a call comes in for assistance, firefighters receive word two or three different ways so the call won’t be missed.

“When you log in (to the app) it allows you to respond to everybody else by telling them if you are responding so other firefighters know who is coming. It’s excellent.”

Fraser says it also brings up a map on the cellphone to direct the firefighter to the exact location of the fire.

It also maps fire hydrant and water sources, automated mapping of the location of all responding apparatus, training and drill tracking and reporting, class completion tracking and reporting and much more.

The app is used by 70 to 80 per cent of the 22 fire departments in Pictou County, notes Fraser.

“A lot of the county departments are using it (the app). It’s a great tool.”
When asked whether it cuts down on too many firefighters on scene, Fraser laughed and noted that’s usually not a problem.

“There’s normally too few on scene, but it lets me know, as deputy chief, when I arrive on scene and see three men, I can look at my phone and see 10 more are on their way or none and I know I need to call for help.”

For the new automatic mutual aid, in the event of a structure fire, the other agreed upon fire departments will also receive the call on their phone.

“It all helps in the big picture,” notes Fraser.

“It has made it easier for some firefighters who are at work and easier to make a decision if they can respond or not. The app will tell you somewhat what kind of situation you are being called to, like if it’s a minor motor vehicle collision or a serious motor vehicle collision.”

Fraser says it also leaves a permanent record of the call so when it comes time to write a report, you just have to log into the app and see how many firefighters responded, what time the call came in and other pertinent details.

“It enables accuracy in reports and is well used by the firefighters.”

He adds, “Quite often with the radio you get no response, you just hope someone is coming; with this app, you can see who responded.”

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