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True stories from dispatchers, law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel who use New World public safety software to help them save lives, protect communities and increase efficiency

Identifying and Patrolling Areas of High Crime

With map-based computer aided dispatch (CAD) systems, dispatchers in public safety agencies ensure patrol effectively covers an entire area – not just criminal hotspots. The Greenbelt Police Dept. in Maryland uses this technology to keep their community safe.

System Cuts Time Between Emergencies, Responses in West Virginia County

Source: Charleston Gazette-Mail
By Giuseppe Sabella

A Kanawha County sheriff’s deputy used three letters to describe her dangerous foot pursuit: AVL.

The automatic vehicle locator tracks first responders from more than 50 agencies throughout the county, and it may have saved Cpl. Stephanie Adams’ life.

Metro 911 officials said the upgrade launched in September and has since helped law enforcement, paramedics, firefighters and county residents.

Read the full story …

Reducing Thefts with Predictive Policing

When public safety agencies have predictive policing capabilities, law enforcement officials use data to predict, prevent, and reduce crime. The Everett Police Department, located in Snohomish County, Washington, used predictive policing capabilities to reduce thefts in the city.

In Case You Missed It

Take a look back at this article to find out how the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office in Illinois, was able to use information sharing and data integration to bring a burglary ring to justice.

Burglary Ring Busted by Law Enforcement

When cutbacks in 2015 resulted in a reduction of officers on patrol throughout Kankakee County, the county experienced a rash of burglaries.

For three weeks, burglars ransacked homes in search of guns, jewelry, electronics, cash and anything else of value.

"It got to the point where you were either a victim of the burglaries, neighbors with someone who had been a victim or afraid of becoming a victim," according to Becky Powell, Investigation's Officer Manager for the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office.

A Look Back at The Call

When it comes to the world of public safety, dispatchers and first responders are always ready to provide help when it’s needed most.

Take a look back at the work of public safety officials throughout the country by exploring these stories on The Call:

Reducing Gang Activity Using Predictive Policing
Lightning Strike Causes Six-Alarm Fire in Rural Oregon
Saving Time with Fire Response Plans in CAD

Have a story you would like to share with The Call? Let us know!

Communication Plays Crucial Role in Fire Responses

This article is part four in a four-part series on fire responses and the roles of firefighters in the US
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

In the world of emergency responses, sometimes radio communication is not enough.

When fire crews in Connelly, NY responded to a house fire where an individual was trapped inside, they experienced what it's like responding to an emergency and wishing for another way to communicate with their units and responding mutual aid companies.

In this particular situation, a neighbor reported the house fire after he was roused from his sleep due to the front windows of his neighbor's home blowing out as a result of the fire's heat. This individual also reported that the man's vehicle was parked in the driveway, which indicated that he was possibly still inside the home as the fire was burning.  

"For fire crews, we're always going to work to make sure citizens are kept safe from the dangers of fires and other emergencies," Ulster County's assistant fire chief Robert Rausch who responded to that fire said. "When we responded to this call, which happened in the middle of the night, we knew that the element of danger was increased due to the information that the caller told dispatch, as he was rather certain that an individual was still inside the home."

When fire crews arrived on scene, the front entrance to the home was engulfed in flames. According to Rausch, crews began attacking the fire immediately to control the flame and gain access to the home to begin searching for the resident. Mutual aid was called in to dispatch by the fire chief on the scene requesting more equipment and personnel.  

The large response to this house fire required more on-the-scene coordination than a typical fire emergency. To facilitate this coordination, the fire department set up incident command on scene, allowing for better communication regarding all aspects of the response.

Incident command helps manage responders, units, and resources along with planning to manage the effectiveness of what is available for conducting scene operations. It helps response personnel to know who oversees a particular scene.

With this house fire, incident command facilitated multiple crews designated to search and rescue along with those fighting the fire.

"Even with incident command in place, we relied on radio communication to speak with everyone involved in the response," Rausch said. "This was the only way we were able to tell where everyone was located and learn the whereabouts of incoming units."

While crews worked on ventilating the home, and performing search and rescue to locate the individual inside the structure, incident command helped ensure all crew members had as much information as possible to stay safe on the scene.

"Information is vital in any emergency response," Rausch said. "Accessing that vital information is key to keeping first responders and citizens as safe as possible."

Explosion Risks in Unknown Structure Fires

This article is part three in a four-part series on fire responses and the roles of firefighters in the US.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

When fire crews respond to an unknown structure fire, they must prepare for the worst.

Unknown structure fires by their very nature present a level of danger for fire crews and the individuals involved in the emergency. While dispatchers gather as much information about the emergency as possible, what they know about the situation depends heavily on their computer aided dispatch (CAD) system's capabilities.

When a dispatcher can access premise history information regarding an address, which can include details of previous incidents at the address and potential hazards onsite, first responders use that data to stay safer on the scene. However, providing these details to fire crews is only possible when dispatchers have a CAD system with those capabilities.

According to former firefighter Dan Stringer who worked for a fire department in Michigan, there was one unknown structure fire that he responded to where access to extra information could have meant the difference between life and death.

The incident Stringer recalled involved a fire happening on a wooded property set back more than a quarter of a mile down a dirt driveway, which had significant ice accumulation due to a winter storm.

"When fire crews respond to an emergency and are unsure of the location, there is always the potential that the apparatus they're using won't make it to the scene due to impassable conditions," Stringer said. "A ladder truck is not going to make it across a one-lane, rural bridge, which can present a problem for responders getting to the scene. Thankfully, in this situation, we were able to get one truck on the scene and pump water to the scene from a fire engine parked at a hydrant location."

The scene in question involved a barn, which was completely engulfed in flames. When fire crews began attacking the fire from inside the structure, they discovered construction equipment and numerous drums of oil, some of which were beginning to boil.

"There was a significant explosion risk that we didn't even know about until we were inside the structure," Stringer said. "If those oil drums had exploded, that fire would have been catastrophic for the crews."

Although the barn was a total loss due to damage, fire crews extinguished the flames and no one was injured.

"Technology has made it possible for fire crews to know so much more when they respond to any emergency, but it's not available in all fire departments," Stringer said. "Instant, real-time information is vital to staying safe on the scene of an emergency."

Spotlight on The Call

In the fast-paced world of public safety, it's easy to miss out on stories you wanted to read and videos you meant to watch. Take a look at some of these stories and videos on The Call and catch up on some things you might have missed including the following:

Our readers want to hear stories from your agency. Submit your story!

Accessing Lifesaving Information During a Fire Response

This article is part two in a four-part series on fire responses and the roles of firefighters in the US
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |

In many fire departments throughout the United States, when a fire emergency is reported and crews are dispatched, it’s common for crews to have very little information about the incident to which they are responding.

According to Brock Race, a 27-year veteran volunteer firefighter in Dover, NY, there have been numerous times in his career when additional information about a fire emergency could have helped save lives and reduced structure damage. However, one experience stands out the most and it involved responding to a smoke investigation call.

“The thing you have to remember with fighting fires is that crews are always going to strive to save lives and minimize damage,” Race said. “That was true when the first fire station was ever created and it’s true today. The good thing about today, though, is that we have more technology on hand to take some of the unknown out of a situation. There have definitely been times in my career when the unknown has been incredibly dangerous.”

With no access to a computer aided dispatch (CAD) system or other public safety software, fire crews relied solely on radio transmissions with dispatch, who were able to provide the address and what little information they had about the scene.

“When we got to the scene around 7 a.m. that particular morning, we saw that it was a tire recycling facility,” Race said. “While responding, we had no idea of the size of the building we were responding to or the hazards it contained.”

Race said the crew quickly realized that the smoke investigation call was really a raging fire in a building full of hazards.

“At one point during the response, I was operating directly over a storage room full of acetylene, which is a highly flammable and explosive gas,” Race said. “Luckily, we cleared out of that area after discovering we were over a massive fuel load, but that is the type of information crews are lucky to have in advance when possible. That information can help save a life.”

Within minutes the entirety of the tire plant was in flames. Mutual aid from 46 fire departments was called in from neighboring counties. Crews were cleared from the call seven days later.

While catastrophic large fires can happen in any community and in any situation, fire crews are more equipped to handle these situations when they have technological tools that provide them with more information.

According to Race, when fire crews have access to mobile data terminals (MDTs) in their rescue vehicles, this provides them with the same information dispatchers see with their CAD systems. This information contains premise history data, lists of known onsite hazards, building contact information, map views of the location, and other necessary details that can help crews understand and assess risk. Knowing these details helps crews plan and decide upon the best course of action for tackling a fire to keep fire crews and civilians safe while reducing structural damage.

“Throughout my career as a firefighter, I will always remember the fire at the tire plant,” Race said. “A situation like that would be much different now with the technology we can access.”

A Look at Fire Stats in the US

This article is part one in a four-part series on fire responses and the roles of firefighters in the US
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

In the United States, a fire emergency is reported on average every 23 seconds.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), that statistic encompasses everything from structure, home, outdoor, unclassified, and vehicle fires.

To understand the scope of fire emergencies in the US, it's important to understand the anatomy of a fire department.

Fast Facts About Fire Stations in the US

According to the NFPA, there are 58,750 fire stations in the US, which consist of the following:

  • 29,727 fire departments
  • 1.1 million firefighters
    • 30 percent of firefighters are career firefighters
    • 70 percent of firefighters are volunteer
  • 71,800 pumpers
  • 7,300 aerial apparatus
  • 79,050 suppression vehicles

In addition to fighting fires, many of these fire departments also offer specialized services including vehicle extrication, public education, specialized rescue, fire investigation, advanced life support, hazardous material removal, in-house training, and intervention programs.

The Role of Firefighters in the US

When a fire emergency is reported to 911, career and volunteer firefighters are alerted by dispatch and quickly respond to the incident. While career and volunteer firefighters are equally responsible for responding to fire, medical, traffic, and other emergencies throughout the country, in some cases volunteers adhere to a different set of guidelines or qualifications.

This difference in guidelines could mean these individuals can only respond with senior-level or career firefighters, however, they are instrumental in a fire response.

To find out more about the role of firefighters in the US, subscribe to The Call and follow our series on fire responses and firefighters over the coming weeks.