N.Y. Fire Department Tests New Alert System

March 6, 2013
Lowville Volunteer Fire Department has been trying out a new system that uses a mass text message sent to its members with the important call info they need to respond appropriately.

LOWVILLE ' For the past month, Lowville Volunteer Fire Department has been testing out a new method of sending fire calls to volunteers and, so far, it’s been very successful.

Text messages, sent through Dewitt-based iamresponding.com, not only alert the members to where and what kind of fire call has come in, it also allows the department to know which volunteers will be responding.

"That’s really improving our efficiency," said Chief Tim Bush.

Mr. Bush explained when a fire call comes in, a mass text is sent to all volunteers with the important information they need to know. If that volunteer will respond to the fire, they simply press one button on their phone, which dials into the service. This confirms for the department the number of responding members they will have almost instantly. A list of responding members appears on a screen in the equipment room for all to see.

"We will know right away if we need to call for mutual aid," he said.

It is also improving the speed in which firefighters are ready at the scene. That list of responding volunteers will include the location of their arrival, whether it be at the station or the scene of a call.

If the department sees one volunteer is just a minute away, the truck can wait for the person’s arrival and they can gear up in the truck.

"Before, we might leave the station and then that volunteer is driving right behind us. He would have to get ready at the scene of the fire. Now, he can jump out of the truck, ready to go," said Mr. Bush.

The information also helps with logistics of the call.

"If we see on the screen we have a lot of drivers coming, I can ride along in a truck and get to a scene," explained Mr. Bush. "If I see we don’t have a lot of drivers coming, I will take a truck to the scene myself."

Using the system also helps in record keeping, storing the data of all responding volunteers.

All 80 firefighters are able to use the system, at a total cost of $600 annually.

Copyright 2013 Johnson Newspaper CorporationDistributed by Newsbank, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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