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The convergence of technology, connectivity and applications (apps) has created an environment for the advancement of many features and functions that to date have been out of reach to the fire service due to cost, technology limitations and the lack of broadband connectivity.
Smartphones, tablets and applications are literally transforming how the fire service communicates, accesses/shares information and responds to emergencies. This article will focus on the iPhone, iPad and applications that operate on the Apple iOS (originally known as the iPhone Operating System).
The iPad trend has taken hold in the fire service. It is predicted that over the next year, iPads will be in use in fire apparatus, ambulances, command vehicles, inspector vehicles, fire stations and almost anywhere else you can imagine. Through the use of apps, the iPad can be used for email, text messaging, dispatch integration with computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems, weather monitoring, incident reporting, radio scanners, preparedness, alerts, chemical/hazmat information, navigation, response, social networking, traffic/video monitoring, situational awareness, automatic vehicle locators, staffing status boards, language translators, medical reference and training – and more apps are being developed every day. Some of these apps are free, others cost several dollars and then there are higher-level apps that require specific development and are more expensive. Firehouse® Magazine’s FIREHOUSE app exemplifies a combination of fire service information, articles, fire photos, breaking news and much more, all at your fingertips.
This article focuses on the apps that are generally available through the Apple app store and are free or relatively inexpensive. Some are one-time purchases while others require annual subscriptions. The apps are broken down by general categories with their names and a brief overview. You can also look up the apps for a much larger variety of choices by going to the App store and using the search function and by entering the general category of interest.
The first app that every iPhone/iPad user should download is the “Secrets for iPhone” app, as it provides you with insights on how to use your iPhone/iPad. This was shared to me by several of my firefighters and has been invaluable.
How to find applications
for the iPad/iPhone
1. Set up an account through iTunes.
2. Click on the App Store icon on the iPhone screen.
3. Select the “Search” option located on the bottom of the screen.
4. Enter the name, keyword or category you are looking for, then press “Search.”
5. The various options will appear and will have descriptions.
6. On the screen, it will indicate whether it is free or if there is a charge.
7. If you wish to install, press the “FREE” or where a price is indicated.
8. If it’s FREE, you will display “INSTALL APP”; when you press “INSTALL APP,” it will ask you for your login to your account (regardless whether it is free or there is a cost).
9. Once the login is successful, you will see “INSTALLING” and a bar will display the progress of the download.
10. The icon will then be installed on your device’s screen; to use it, simply touch the screen.
11. Once opened, follow the instructions of the app.
Here are some of the more popular apps that I have used and that may prove useful for you and/or your organization:
• Active 911 – Essential dispatch and response information right to your iPhone/iPad with mapping, routing and driving directions and automatic vehicle locator functionality. See where your personnel and your units are in real time using the GPS functionality of the device.
• Hybrid Auto Extrication Guide – Provides clear, zoomable schematics showing the location of airbag sensors, high-voltage lines and much more