By Gary M. Dillon
For years, volunteer firefighters have flipped through pages of map books and other documents to determine the best route to an incident, locate fire hydrants, and review “pre-plan” information. Now that has all changed for the Crozet Volunteer Fire Department. The CVFD followed the lead of the Charlottesville Fire Department and by the end of July it had installed iPads in all CVFD primary response vehicles–engines, brush trucks, ladder truck, tanker and the command vehicle—and officers have now this technology at their fingertips.
Last year, several CVFD members began beta-testing an iPhone/iPad application called Active 911, a digital messaging system that delivers alarms, maps, and other critical information instantly to first responders. Active911 also allows response efforts to be monitored in real time. A large-screen monitor mounted in the station allows firefighters arriving at the station to see on the map which personnel are responding and their distance from the station and incident scene. The monitor was a generous donation from the Crutchfield Corporation.
“Pre-plans” provide information about a particular structure—such as a school, factory or senior living home—describing the building’s size, number of floors, how it is constructed, what materials were used during its construction, how many occupants are in the building typically and where any hazardous materials are located. An officer can simply press map points and retrieve any available pre-plan information. Fire hydrants and other water sources have been uploaded as a map layer so officers can quickly determine how to approach a scene and the most efficient method to get water to the apparatus.
The CVFD is proud to be the first fire department in Albemarle County to launch this new technology. For more information about the CVFD, or to find out how to join, please visit www.crozetfire.org. You can also follow the CVFD on Twitter at www.twitter.com/crozetfire.