How Software Helps Volunteer Fire Depts

February 22, 2021 by Devin Culham

How Software Helps Volunteer Fire Depts

For some smaller communities, volunteer firefighters are the frontline heroes working to safely respond – and prevent – fire emergencies.

Although the frequency of fire incidents may be less than its big city counterparts, the five volunteer fire departments in Newtown, Connecticut, know the threat is still very much real. Access to critical information during an emergency is the best line of defense for the small population of less than 30,000 residents, and that starts with dispatchers.

“When I think of the benefits of this program it's on the dispatch side,” said Maureen Will communications director at the Newtown Emergency Communications Center. “It’s easy for dispatchers to put in a call for service to get the responders out there. And the responders are satisfied because we're giving them all the information.”

Because the Newtown fire departments are volunteer based, it's crucial the personnel can easily access all the information they need to respond to an emergency.

“We don't have to think about it,” shared Will. “The run cards are designed to advise what apparatus to take. They can responded with whatever they choose, but we can tell them what the apparatus is that has been requested by the program, so that becomes one less thing they need to think about.”

As the fifth largest town in the state, Newtown faces extra challenges regarding the number of hydrant locations available in more remote neighborhoods. Supplying hydrant information is one of the key areas that the volunteer fire departments benefits from most.

“The best part is that all of the hydrants are in the software program,” said Will. “So, we're giving them hydrant information, such as how many feet it is to a suppression tank.”

The program shares specific information about distance to hydrants and drop locations to help first responders react more quickly.

“When first responders are approaching, they know the yards or miles of hose they're going to have to drop,” said Will. “They know what type of hydrants and if there are any alerts and alarms at the site. All of that critical information is in there.”

Despite sometimes limited resources, Newtown’s volunteer fire department utilizes the software to prepare and help crews be efficient and effective when it is needed most.

“On our end, it's the best-case scenario,” said Will. “Very user-friendly for data entry and maintaining pertinent information.”

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