Oldsmar--Fire Department Finalist for "Excellence Award" @ ICHIEF's
Fire department among finalists for high honor
Technology has put the Oldsmar firefighters in an international light.
By MEGAN SCOTT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 18, 2003
OLDSMAR - The problem: four three-ring binders stuffed with plans to fight fires in 350 buildings around town.
There had to be an easier way.
The Oldsmar Fire Department became one of a handful in the state when it went the electronic route last year with laptop computers and mapping software aboard its fire engines.
Now the technological innovation has caught the attention of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. The department is one of seven finalists from around the world to be considered for the "Fire Service Award for Excellence."
"We're excited about just being a finalist," Oldsmar Fire Chief Scott McGuff said. "It's probably one of the most prestigious awards the department can get."
The award is co-sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and U.S. Safety and Engineering. The winner will be announced Aug. 25 at the Fire Rescue International conference in Dallas. More than 15,000 people are expected to attend.
With the laptops, Oldsmar firefighters can pull up maps, floor plans of buildings, fire hydrant locations and photographs just by clicking the mouse or touching the screen. Each of the three laptops has a printer.
"They can actually pull up a floor plan, hit print and give that to the firefighter going into the building," McGuff said. "We know exactly where we are going."
McGuff started to investigate going the electronic route a few years ago as an alternative to the three-ring binders that were becoming more and more cumbersome.
The fire department found a Geographical Information Specialist firm called Group One in Glen Ellyn, Ill. The firm uses Remote Access software, a program that allows the system to be used from the fire engines. The project cost about $40,000.
"I think other departments will look at it, see a benefit to it," McGuff said. "Also I think it speeds up our response and makes it a lot safer for our personnel."