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Thread: GPS for Units

  1. #1
    Forum Member
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    Apr 2010

    Default GPS for Units

    Our department is considereing adding GPS devices to our Units. Do any of yalls departments use them? Do they help?

    What kind of GPS devices do yall use? Do they mount into the unit or do they just mount on top of the dash?

    Also, is there GPS devices out there that the dispatch can enter the address into them when they tone the units out?

    Looked on the internet for some ideas, but cant find anything. Thanks for the help!

  2. #2
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    Sep 2009


    First off are you in a rural or semi rural location? The local Private ambulance company installed GPS's in their entire fleet. They work great in the Capital of Topeka, but out where I am the unit is entirely wrong. The reason behind that is that the GPS maps have to rely on the accuracy of county road plan. There are roads still on record that never got build and some that are no longer maintained. What's funny is every once and a while you'll get a paramedic from Topeka picking up hours that tries to us the GPS and they wind up getting lost and/or stuck. I've had to pull out an ambulance with a Firetruck on more than one occasion, makes for some great ammunition to use when you want to embarrass them later.

    The point is bare in mind that out in the middle-of-nowhere where the unit is and where it thinks it is can be two completely different places.

    Career Departments in the major cities around here have what they refer to as "Teletype", it's really a computerized radio teletype system that would do what your wanting with giving you the address. In some stations they hook the machine up to a printer, so that they can print out the message and give it to the officers in the smaller trucks that just have radios. The system can be securely encrypted and if I remember correctly they make units for trucks that allow you to send messages as well as receive.

    All of the options that I've mentioned cost a significant amount of money per unit.
    Last edited by KanFireman; 04-10-2010 at 01:27 AM. Reason: Forgot to address the entire post

  3. #3
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    Apr 2010


    We are a pretty metro department. We cover a population of about 33,000 people. Street test is required after being hired on. Close to 300 street. Some of the administration vehicles have garmins in them, but they are fairly new to the department.

  4. #4
    Forum Member FIREMECH1's Avatar
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    Apr 2008


    What you are looking for, or need info on, are MDT's (Mobile Data Terminals).

    Here's a quick run down on ours.

    We have Toughbooks (touch screen lap tops) on all our rigs that are programmed with, and set up to be MDT's. This includes a biscuit sized piece for the GPS/AVL for each rig mounted on the roof. There is other hardware needed, that is usually installed under the officers seat, away from the radio equipment.

    With the system we have, dispatch knows where every rig is. As well, can send information to that, or several rigs. It also has GPS mapping, so they know where to go. It also allows each rig to communicate to another rig, without using the radio.

    When dispatch sends the tones at the station, the MDT on each responding rig gets information on the call. As well, shows the location on a map. Responding units can confirm the call either through the radio or hitting a short key on the touch screen. When on scene, they can use the radio or short key. Normally, unit and dispatch communications are done on the radio.

    There is alot more info and things you can do with it, than the above.

    I'm the one Fire and Rescue calls, when they need to be Rescued.

    Quote Originally Posted by EastKyFF
    "Firemens gets antsies. Theys wants to goes to fires. Sometimeses they haves to waits."

  5. #5
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    Jan 2008


    Check this out On-Scene Xplorer

    They do it all...

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber tree68's Avatar
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    Aug 2003
    Jefferson County, NY USA


    The operative question here is: What do you want them to do?

    If you just want to know where you are, and maybe do some route mapping to get you where you're going, then any off-the-shelf GPS unit will probably fit your needs. They obviously vary in cost and capabilities, so you'll have to see which unit fits your local needs and available cash. Most sporting goods and big-box stores have a selection, and you can shop on-line.

    Even a basic unit will provide you with stuff like latitude and longitude - possibly a handy bit of information is you are in a rural area and make use of aeromedical helicopters.

    If you want something that interfaces with dispatch, you're into another realm entirely, one in which GPS is only a peripheral. Now you're talking about building a communications system which will involve everything from tower sites to in-vehicle terminals. In general that's not something you approach from a single department level, unless you're a pretty big department.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

  7. #7
    Forum Member
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    Aug 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by volfd View Post
    Our department is considereing adding GPS devices to our Units. Do any of yalls departments use them? Do they help?

    What kind of GPS devices do yall use? Do they mount into the unit or do they just mount on top of the dash?
    We've been using Garmin plug-in devices for a couple of years now.

    Overall, I think they help. They certainly aren't a substitute for knowing your response district or having proper direction/map books, but can have some value.

    I've found them to be most useful in their "map" mode rather than "direction" mode. We've had a problem in the past with street signs being stolen in several parts of the city and they are no longer being replaced. So, due to some fun "quirks" with our road layouts and missing signs, they are very helpful with identifying/confirming the next cross-street.

    Additionally, we don't routinely respond outside of our city, so we really don't carry maps for the other communities that we occasionally respond to. So, they are useful in that regards.

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber evfd3100's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    Elberta, AL, USA


    We use Garmin Nuvi 760 GPS in all of our units. We even have them in our Kubota RTV brush units set on pedestrian mode. In our regular units, they come in handy for hydrant location and LZ coordinates, etc.

    In our RTVs, they come in handy for fires deep in the woods where Forestry will be coming in, or when they are already in the woods. For example, our Forestry Dept uses GPS in their dozers, so we can be deep in the woods and tell them exactly where something has jumped a fireline, etc. Or, we can give them two points and tell them we need a fireline between those two points, etc.
    Assistant Chief
    Elberta Volunteer Fire Department

    "Find a purpose in life so big, it will challenge every capacity to be at your best."

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