I had a recent conversation with a local New Jersey firefighter, Charlie Jacobson, whose iPad app FireStop launched earlier this month. FireStop’s cloud-based platform allows you to import, manage and analyze data in real time.
“Responding to calls day in and day out, I realized how important information was in every aspect of what we do on the fireground,” said Jacobson, who has served as a volunteer and career firefighter for four years. "The incident commander needs to have accurate information ready at his or her fingertips in order to make safe and effective decisions on the fireground.“
Before an incident happens, FireStop helps firefighters collect data in the pre-planning process. Jacobson notes that the app has completely rethought the pre-planning process so firefighters can collect all the information they need in a fraction of the time.
”With FireStop’s iPad interface you can simply tap-to-plot hydrants. Similarly, in just a few minutes, you can pre-plan an entire building.
When an incident happens, firefighters utilize the app geared directly to their needs. Jacobson explains that “when a unit is responding to an emergency, all they have to do is pull out the iPad and tap the most recent call to respond. While they are responding, the system gives them all the pieces of information that they worked hard to collect in a format that they can use easily within seconds. This data, including hydrants and buildings, is combined with mapping, routing, satellite imagery and Streetview."
FireStop also provides tools to share critical information in real time. Firefighters can see where the apparatus are as they respond and arrive on scene. Units can use tactical waypoints to exchange information with other crews. If there’s an accident, road closure or specific staging area, firefighters can quickly drop tactical waypoints that automatically sync across all devices. For mutual aid, the system remains seamless because all the information lives in one central database and information exchanges happen frequently.
After an incident, you can analyze previous operations to better prepare for the next emergency.
"The app can provide data visualizations and analysis so departments can notice trends,” said Jacobson.
Users can break down calls by time of day, type of incident or location within their response jurisdiction. “The goal here,” Jacobson explained, “is to help departments notice trends so they can anticipate what is going to happen next and be better prepared.”
With nothing more than an iPad, departments can start using FireStop in minutes.
"The setup and implementation process is incredibly quick," Jacobson said. "Departments simply download the free app from the App Store and sign up for a trial online. Certainly, the more iPads a department deploys, the more effective the system is. But with just one device, users can hit the ground running to start testing the product for themselves and then expand as they go."
Additionally, FireStop offers fire departments a wide array of tools to migrate over any existing data they might already have, including the migration of existing data into the app for free. They frequently work with GIS maps and more complicated databases. Even CAD integration is as simple as a single copy-and-paste.
Jacobson set out last year to use his fire department experience and computer science skills to work with his team of engineers to build a quality product. After initial research into the problem and honing in on what firefighters needed, they began building the product in September of 2013.
“Every couple of weeks, we would add another aspect or feature,” explained Jacobson, “and send it back out to our beta testers. We were receiving constant evaluations on every step of what we built."
"We are incredibly excited to launch the app and to have fire departments across the country using our software,” said Jacobson . “We look forward to helping them everyday as they respond to emergencies. That’s why we set out to build this.”