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How mobile apps are improving firefighter safety and fire prevention

The right mobile apps can keep firefighters connected to everything dispatch has to offer about their fire scene – enhancing their performance and safety – and help fire inspectors complete more inspections than ever before with more accuracy


Sponsored by Tyler Technologies

By FireRescue1 BrandFocus Staff

In the past, firefighters were dispatched to incident scenes with a minimum of information. They would know the street address, and possibly the general nature of the fire and the hazards within, but that was about it. Meanwhile, any information they could get from dispatch was via two-way radio, all of which had to be relayed by voice.

The right mobile apps can keep firefighters safer by keeping them informed and help fire inspectors do their jobs more quickly and accurately.
The right mobile apps can keep firefighters safer by keeping them informed and help fire inspectors do their jobs more quickly and accurately. (Image/Getty)

Then in the 1990s laptops that could be accessed in the fire engine became available, significantly enhancing firefighters’ access to critical information. But this information was only available when the fire crew has access to their mobile data terminals in the vehicle.

Today, thanks to mobile apps like Tyler Technologies’ New World CrewForce and MobileEyes, firefighters answering an emergency call can get all the information they need via their iOS and Android smartphones and tablets – from turn-by-turn directions and real-time on-scene intelligence, to fire inspection reports and hazmat warnings about the incident scene. Collectively, CrewForce and MobileEyes help firefighters operate more effectively and safely at any fire scene – using affordable mobile technology that they are already highly familiar with.

Full situational awareness with CrewForce

Designed to integrate with Tyler Technologies’ New World computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system, CrewForce is an easy-to-use app that covers all aspects of fire response.

When a fire truck is driving to the incident scene, CrewForce provides the driver with turn-by-turn directions. Meanwhile, CrewForce’s role-based design provides useful data to the other members of the fire crew as they’re en route, including which other units are responding and their real-time locations, available building maps, hydrant locations, and data about hazardous materials stored on site. CrewForce will even advise commanders as to the names and contact information for the site’s owners and operators and provide access to any existing response plans that may be on file.

Once on the scene, CrewForce keeps firefighters up-to-date on each other’s assignments, locations, and situations, plus all other information and relevant records that dispatch can provide. The information provided to each firefighter is tailored based on their specific role. What a battalion chief sees is different than what is provided to a working firefighter.

CrewForce also leverages the power of each user’s smartphone or tablet. For instance, the app transmits the GPS location of each identified user back to dispatch, allowing those in command to track the positions and safety of everyone on scene in real-time. If a firefighter gets into distress, CrewForce enables dispatch to send help quickly.

CrewForce’s built-in chat function makes it simple for firefighters to communicate with each other on scene, while providing command with a real-time window into what is being said and discussed at any given time. The app supports two-way voice communications via smartphones and tablets, and even responds to spoken commands.

Taken as a whole, the CrewForce app delivers critical role-specific real-time data to firefighters as they need it, using visual formats and mobile technology that they are already comfortable with. And because CrewForce operated on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, the cost of using this technology is much less than if it were reserved for ruggedized laptops and mobile data terminals (MDTs). Even in their ruggedized forms, smartphones and tablets are far less expensive for fire departments to purchase and provision than ruggedized laptops and MDTs.

Enhancing fire prevention with MobileEyes

The best kind of fire is one that never occurs, thanks to proactive fire inspections that identify potential incendiary sources and risk factors, plus noncompliant fire detection or suppression systems that won’t douse fires if they do occur.

Providing fire inspectors with the tools they need to do their jobs more effectively is the mission of Tyler Technologies’ MobileEyes app solution. MobileEyes is a suite of mobile applications that improve public and firefighter safety by providing inspectors with cloud-based forms that can be populated on their smartphones and tablets.

This paperless approach can speed up the inspection process by up to 40% per visit, while ensuring that the data collected is accurate, secure, and properly stored.

The information compiled using MobileEyes can prevent property damage and loss of life by ensuring fire code compliance. Should fire break out, MobileEyes’ data can give firefighters detailed site and hazard information as they drive to the incident scene.

The heart of this app package is MobileEyes Inspector. This app is used to compile data during fire inspections, including code violations and noncompliance issues. It is a powerful documentation tool that enables easy compilation and storage of data, plus sharing of this information with authorized personnel.

Inspector’s data can be integrated with MobileEyes’ Company Inspector app to create mobile maps that show the building layout, hazardous material locations, exit routes, structural information, and any fire code violations. These ‘pre-plan’ maps can be shared with firefighters using the MobileEyes Responder app, allowing them to see everything on their smartphones and tablets.

MobileEyes’ Contractor Portal allows local fire alarm and sprinkler contractors to share the results of their own inspections with the fire department online. This puts this data right on firefighters’ mobile devices at the incident scene, rather than having to query these contractors by phone to ask about outages and other issues. Should a contractor find a serious issue, Contractor Portal will send out an automated alert to the fire department as soon as the issue is logged electronically.

Collectively, the MobileEyes suite of apps allows fire inspectors to do their jobs faster and better. It also provides firefighters with vital information about the building fires they are responding t and forewarning about any hazardous materials that could put their health and safety at risk. Again, all of this information is available on firefighters’ smartphones and tablets, and on the screens of the commanders who are directing operations.

The time to go mobile is now

The sheer usefulness of CrewForce and MobileEyes underlines why now is the time for fire departments to go mobile. There is just so much their personnel can do using affordable smartphones and tablets, enhancing their response to incidents while bolstering the safety of first responders and the public at large.

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