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  1. #1
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    Default Information on Dispatch

    Following the events in Chicago at the end of December, I am interested in just how much information is recieved by firefighters when companies are dispatched. For those with data terminals in the firehouse and/or fire trucks, do you get notifications for issues with the address you are dispatched to? Weather it be code violations, police notes, or notes added from the FD?

    I'm not asking this to place blame, but I think to raise an important issue. Knowledge is power, and if we truly want to be safe adding in information about blatant code violations that affect structural integrity is important. Think about how many buildings are in your first, second, and third due, do you think you can remember everything important about them? People may cry because the building involved with the Chicago LODDs was vacant, but who here can say that occupied buildings in their district don't have structural issues that are just as bad or worse. Give the company officers the information and let them decide.

    Im not placing any fault here. These systems cost money and remember issues in your district requires super computer type memory. That's even assuming you discover it or hear about it from the 2 or 3 other shifts.


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    Quote Originally Posted by nameless View Post
    Following the events in Chicago at the end of December, I am interested in just how much information is recieved by firefighters when companies are dispatched. For those with data terminals in the firehouse and/or fire trucks, do you get notifications for issues with the address you are dispatched to? Weather it be code violations, police notes, or notes added from the FD?

    I'm not asking this to place blame, but I think to raise an important issue. Knowledge is power, and if we truly want to be safe adding in information about blatant code violations that affect structural integrity is important. Think about how many buildings are in your first, second, and third due, do you think you can remember everything important about them? People may cry because the building involved with the Chicago LODDs was vacant, but who here can say that occupied buildings in their district don't have structural issues that are just as bad or worse. Give the company officers the information and let them decide.

    Im not placing any fault here. These systems cost money and remember issues in your district requires super computer type memory. That's even assuming you discover it or hear about it from the 2 or 3 other shifts.
    We don't get structural information from dispatch. The parish 911 center simply has no interest in keeping that information.

    We keep track of building conditions at the department level.

  3. #3
    Forum Member snowball's Avatar
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    Most information about commercial structures is available on our MDT's, such as FDC locations if sprinklered, last inspection notes, building type and hazards. It is all entered by the comm team but it it up to the individual Captains to make sure the info gets to them. Not all commercial buildings are entered so we have a weekly info sheet that the stations maintain with target hazards in their first due. When you pull up the sheet you get the hazards department wide. Hazards can include dead hydrants, structural deficiencies, and the like.
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    We can get ANYTHING we want to come over the MDC...as long as it gets submitted. Standard info includes address, x-streets, units due, box #, caution notes, times, incident #, caller information, and all the CAD notes. Press the map button and I get GPS and hydrant info. Press another button and I get 360 aerial imagery. On top of that, any pre-plans or other pertinent info that I want is available as long as I upload it to the CAD server.

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  5. #5
    Back In Black ChiefKN's Avatar
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    No MDT's on this Volunteer Department.

    Dispatch is police run. Therefore police oriented.

    We get whatever the caller tells the dispatcher and if a car is on scene we get most updates. Many times I have heard the LEO given an update on the scanner, and not hear it come out on the fire band.

    Can it be better? Yes.

    Will it be better? Yes, I think that there is a great opportunity to work on a better way to do this that doesn't rely on the dispatchers. Working with the Fire Official (NJ's version of the head fire inspector) to share information over a network terminal in the Chief Officer cars is coming down the road eventually.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    We get whatever 911 feels like telling us. From heart surgery 1,000,000 years ago to an unknown medical emergency. From possible grass fire that's close to a structure and it turn out to be nearly an acre burned. So it just depends on who is working (911 center) that night.

  7. #7
    Forum Member EngineCO38's Avatar
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    I think I can proudly say that we have one of the best Dispatch centers in the country. Not trying to gloat by any means, but I feel it to be somewhat true

    In the past year or so our Dispatch center has been upgrading their system, as well as integrating new technologies to better assist the many many Departments they dispatch (Both career and Volunteer Departments) CAD was new to us a year ago, but now that the bugs have been worked out its an invaluable tool at our disposal.

    At our station the CAD network is accessed through any computer, and is filled with just about anything you could need. Ranging from hydrant locations specific to a structure, property hazards, past call information, and special notes made during previous calls. The information we can get from it is seemingly endless. At the moment however only the chief has a Laptop in his personal Vehicle that can access this information on the road. Funds have not come down yet to provide our first due apparatus with that equipment.

    Those Laptops also have a special feature that connects them in real time with the dispatch center. So when a call for our Department starts to come in, its displayed on the screen with information as its gathered all in real time. There have been a few occasions were that little feature has given us the jump on a call, and saved a few seconds on our response time.

    And of course I cannot forget our dispatchers, who are always on the ball with any important information we may need. All the info we can get about our town , they already have and are looking up per the call. So if we don't get to it, they can and can relay anything important to us enroute. All in all, I think we're pretty damn lucky to have the system we do in place.
    Opinions expressed by myself here are just that, mine. And not that of ANY organization or service I am affiliated with.

  8. #8
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    Following the events in Chicago at the end of December, I am interested in just how much information is recieved by firefighters when companies are dispatched. For those with data terminals in the firehouse and/or fire trucks, do you get notifications for issues with the address you are dispatched to? Weather it be code violations, police notes, or notes added from the FD?
    This would be a great feature, if….. As, I’m sure many are thinking, we could get the pertinent information before we arrived on the scene. Things like engineered trusses, code violations, open shafts, previous fires, police calls, domestic problems, and a hundred more all factor into decisions being made by the right front seat. How about Hazardous Material listings, Sprinkler & standpipe connections, nearest water supply information. We are happy to just get a keyholder name or phone number for automatic alarms. The volunteer service does not have the resources available to keep up with the sort of labor required to do preplans and data collection for this system.

    Running back over the years, things like dropping off an engine and grabbing a line, only to be met by a P.D. Officer and told, “Get behind a tree”. Which side do I get behind? Fortunately the actor had already done himself in, right after he lit the fire. New Years night one of our sister companies responded to a building collapse. Right after things begin to thaw, frozen, rotted trusses often fail in abandoned buildings. Perhaps right after the fire thaws them out, but with no code enforcement activity, you will never get the needed information before you respond.

    Then there is the opposite side of the coin concerning information overload, where there is so much data, that the officer has a difficult time sorting the wheat from the chaff.

    To answer your question, here in the Wilds of Northwestern Pa., we sometimes get usable information concerning the location from dispatch, and now that we have the ability for the EMS & PD to radio link to the fire department frequency, we are doing a whole lot better.

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber Dickey's Avatar
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    Our 911 center is a combined police/fire/ems dispatch center for everything in our county, 18 different agencies on 24 different frequencies. The CAD system has different "modules" that plug into the CAD such as the jail, police and sheriff records, and our one full time fire department in the county. We can get whatever CAD notes are put in such as key locations, directions, or any officer safety information.

    What I am trying to arrange right now is to get a laptop in our first out engine and our heavy rescue to access our records system called Firehouse. With a wireless card, the officer can log into Firehouse and obtain all the pre-plan information including the inspection records too. I have the money approved, I just have to make the arrangements for purchase and installation.

    However, it is just one more thing the officer has to do while enroute to the call. Sometimes it can get to be too much.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    No MDT's on this Volunteer Department.

    Dispatch is police run. Therefore police oriented.

    We get whatever the caller tells the dispatcher and if a car is on scene we get most updates. Many times I have heard the LEO given an update on the scanner, and not hear it come out on the fire band.

    Can it be better? Yes.

    Will it be better? Yes, I think that there is a great opportunity to work on a better way to do this that doesn't rely on the dispatchers. Working with the Fire Official (NJ's version of the head fire inspector) to share information over a network terminal in the Chief Officer cars is coming down the road eventually.
    AH HA! Hemmoroid on a POLICE dispatch. Ain't that ODD, same here. Same Intel stream too it seems. I feel MUCH better now. T.C.

  11. #11
    Forum Member MemphisE34a's Avatar
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    We get nothing but what the caller reports and the dispatcher passes on.
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    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

  12. #12
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    We get the address maybe an apartment number and sometimes they are both right. On a good day the dispatcher can even correctly pronounce the street names.

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    We get general information, however we have the ability to "TAG" an address. When a call comes in for that address, our tagged info appears on our laptop in the truck. Its very handy. The problem then becomes coordinating with dispatch to get the information into the system correctly. Its a very handy tool.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by PFDSquad47 View Post
    We get the address maybe an apartment number and sometimes they are both right. On a good day the dispatcher can even correctly pronounce the street names.
    Ha, that is funny. We had a male dispatcher that literally sounded like a 80 year old woman who chain smoked for 59 of them. He was a good guy, but that voice being awoken to at 2am for a Hi-Rise alarm...

    We get current call information, FDC locations and contact numbers. Our dispatch/CAD system is being updated in segments. By the end of the upgrade the Dept. plans to be able to give you a listing of past calls to the address, pre-plans, other important information for target hazards and if I recall correctly even photos from Google Earth.
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  15. #15
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    I'm very familiar with our MTD's, and what comes across the screen, and what information is on it, as well as what each station/rig enters into it.

    When tones drop, they get the address, a GPS map, and any and all violations that have been entered. Including last inspection, last false alarm, etc. It does not "tell" them what kind or type of building. Other than hospital, school, etc.

    Structural information is entered when that rig does FMZ'ing (Fire Management Zoning, if I remember right). They check it's construction, sprinklers or not, standpipe locations, type of roof/ceiling, floors, hazards, etc. They also plot and enter hydrant locations, and where one is down. This is done in their first and second due response areas.

    For EMS, they get the history of that address. Repeat ETOH, suicidal, etc. Last run and how many runs there. If an address come up red, they need to notify dispatch that they need police to respond as well, for their safety. Usually dispatch knows, but they can cover their butts.

    The B/C buggies are pretty generic for information. Usually only HAZMAT or other extreme circumstances show up on his/her MTD. If they need info, they radio the engine, unless the engine has already made a broadcast with info needed.

    We've had them installed for 3 years now. And from the outside looking in, a great tool for the Fire Service. If, you can afford it.

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  16. #16
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    Just found out that we're in the middle of a problem one of the cable companies is having with there Internet-based phone service. A 9-1-1 call reporting a fire in my district was routed to a call center in Colorado instead of the appropriate PSAP here in NY, apparently with a delay of at least 44 seconds, possibly more.

    The call Monday morning was for a structure fire in a building reportedly built in 1847. Odds are we were behind the eight ball from the get go, as the fire was probably already into the attic and other void spaces, but the delay didn't help any, either.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    Just found out that we're in the middle of a problem one of the cable companies is having with there Internet-based phone service. A 9-1-1 call reporting a fire in my district was routed to a call center in Colorado instead of the appropriate PSAP here in NY, apparently with a delay of at least 44 seconds, possibly more.

    The call Monday morning was for a structure fire in a building reportedly built in 1847. Odds are we were behind the eight ball from the get go, as the fire was probably already into the attic and other void spaces, but the delay didn't help any, either.
    I could be mistaken but from what i gathered on VOIPs, its the residents responsibility to set up emergency numbers, the cable company has no idea if VOIP is even being used much less that it needs to be redirected. If I just read it wrong and you're not even discussing this, i apologize and just use it as food for thought
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  18. #18
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    Posts such as this only reinforces one of my core beliefs for firefighters.. from the wet behind the ears probie to the grizzled old chief officer...

    you have to get out there and study your districts!

    The Late Frank Brannigan stated it best...


    The building is your enemy... know your buildings!
    Last edited by DeputyChiefGonzo; 01-05-2011 at 11:48 AM.
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  19. #19
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    A great issue. Fortunately for us, suppression and inspections get along very well. So in our premise files, much of the buildings condition and issues will be listed. Also, if there happens to be a specific target hazard, the Asst. Chief of Ops will send out a directive with what the building conditions are and fire attack options.
    But DCG hit the nail on the head, again. You MUST get out in your districts and know your buildings. We have an area where a building exploded and burned down 3 exposures. They where rebuilt to look much like the rest of the neighborhood, 3-story vics. With their look, you would assume balloon, lathe and plaster, dimensional lumber, hand framed trusses, but nope. All light weight framing and drywall. Fairly important info to have...
    Another advantage I believe, our fire comm sup. is a chief on a decent size suburban POC department. That allows him an inside view of whats truly important to the firefighter.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    AH HA! Hemmoroid on a POLICE dispatch. Ain't that ODD, same here. Same Intel stream too it seems. I feel MUCH better now. T.C.
    I feel for ya Tim: we're lucky to get sent to the proper island on a dispatch. They love to give us the directions as "cross street of rte 24. Well seeing how thats the only north south road + all roads on three islands run off of rte 24, it's a pretty safe bet. :-}

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