WEST CHESTER, Ohio --
An old tool is getting used in an entirely new way, and firefighters said it would help keep families safer.
The Butler County auditor recently began taking aerial photographs of the area for her officer, and West Chester and Ross Township fire departments decided to use the photos to help battle fires.
"It can calculate added height, distance from one building to another, distance from hydrants to the building," said Mike Mays, West Chester assistant fire chief.
The photos also allow firefighters to view the images from every side, and Ross Township fire chief Steve Miller said the uses are nearly endless.
"Let's say I wanted to land Aircare in the middle of the street and I didn't know the coordinates," Miller said. "I would come up and hit 'L' for location and there's the coordinates for Aircare."
The images also identify potential hazards such as heavy air conditioning units that could cause a roof to collapse.
"We could also look at streams and, in the event of a hazmat spill, we could then see what streams are going where, and get an idea of where we may need to dike it up," Mays said.
Both departments said the images could mean the difference between life and death, because every fire hydrant shows up in the images.
Ross Township has been using the images for about two months, and West Chester is having their system installed and expects to begin using it soon.
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For relevant training information see:
"Fighting The Fire Before The Fire"
Brian Collins, Firehouse.com Contributor