Your Apparatus Has a Voice — Are You Listening?

Important to modern transport and delivery systems are the use of GPS fleet tracking, telematics and mobile resource management programs. Until now, fire departments have yet to fully leverage these technologies into their apparatus. The systems...


Important to modern transport and delivery systems are the use of GPS fleet tracking, telematics and mobile resource management programs. Until now, fire departments have yet to fully leverage these technologies into their apparatus. The systems employed in transport vehicle fleets largely focus...


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Important to modern transport and delivery systems are the use of GPS fleet tracking, telematics and mobile resource management programs. Until now, fire departments have yet to fully leverage these technologies into their apparatus. The systems employed in transport vehicle fleets largely focus on logistics, specifically a vehicle's location and route, two items that comprise only a fraction of the fire apparatus' utility.

Trying to mold traditional fleet methods directly to the fire service can be likened to the square-peg/round-hole dilemma — while you may find a fit, there will remain gaps to fill.

FirePrograms Software of Beverly Hills, FL, recently announced a new hardware product that will bridge the gap between a department's records management software (RMS) package and apparatus fleet. The Mobile Apparatus Management module (MAM) enables the apparatus to connect with FirePrograms records management software as it returns into the station through a wireless internet connection. Run logs, maintenance and inventory data are automatically synchronized with the records management requirements.

Rolling Business Unit

For the fire service, the benefit-to-cost ratio of traditional fleet management systems is diminished by two main factors. The first is that the typical fleet of fire apparatus for a given department is small. Second, the geographical and logistical scope of the apparatus is confined to a more localized region.

"Generally speaking, we have a better than reasonable idea of how many of our trucks are on the road, and where they are located," said Chief Tim Franz of the Oshkosh, WI, Fire Department. "The response mode of the vehicle is only the beginning. The requirement of the apparatus becomes more complex once we arrive at the scene. We need a more integrated approach that addresses the apparatus status, usage and capabilities while operating at the scene."

Viewed as a whole, the fire apparatus may be likened to a mobile business facility. It transports skilled personnel with a defined management structure. It houses inventory and an inventory management system, as well as a self-contained power plant to operate an array of equipment and machinery.

"The fire apparatus, whether at the station, in transit or at the scene is never off the job," says Chris Magiera, vice president of sales for FirePrograms Software. "With the Mobile Apparatus Management product, we are enabling certain data from the records management pool to travel through the entire response process; from the station, through transport, and to the scene. Similarly, data from the response process can be gathered and ported back into the department's RMS database."

Field Asset Management

Field asset management solutions incorporate many technologies, and typically employ machine-to-machine (M2M) applications. Machine-to-machine applications include hardware that gathers information from a machine, or other asset, and provides that information into a back-end office system or another field asset management system. The information in the M2M applications can be delivered through a wide array of available connectivity channels, including wireless broadband, Internet connection, wireless networks and even a plain old telephone connection.

Most fire departments currently use a records management software package to manage the business side of their operations. Records management systems today provide many features beyond National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) reports, including personnel data and scheduling, vehicle maintenance data and records, apparatus inventory and equipment lists. On the front end of records management, diligence in maintaining these records does result in extensive and valuable data that can provide useful statistical data through queries and reports.

One key to unlocking the power of the database is to remove data from its silo and port the information to the scene through the vehicle. With machine-to-machine communication, the fire apparatus is now capable of pulling the power of the RMS database into practical usage at the fire scene.

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