Tracking personnel might never be as important as it is for incident commanders to track firefighters on fire attack. Knowing what fire personnel are present, who is on fire attack and for how long might mean the difference between life or death for someone.
That’s the idea behind the Battalion 3 Technology (BATT3) digital Incident Command (ICx) and fire roster software using a Zebra rugged tablet to help incident commanders manage a fire scene.
An incident commander and fire chief himself, John Morrison and a counterpart developed the technology when their search for a tool to manage a fire scene proved fruitless.
“We started our digital command board and wanting it to be more than just a tactical worksheet, we built a rostering program,” Morrison said. “So a fire department is able to put its members into a roster, which we would then grab with our command program, and I would know as incident commander that Engine 1 is on scene, so I know which individuals are inside the building doing the search.”
The system has been in use at the Northern Lakes Fire Protection District for several years in Hayden, Idaho, where relatively small fire departments count on mutual aid during incidents, especially the larger ones. That makes the roster software so valuable, as visiting departments can link together on the system and fall into the command system.
“Our firefighter accountability capabilities have improved significantly in the last few years,” said Northern Lakes Fire Protection District Chief Pat Riley in a press release, “as has our ability to maintain insight into all activities, assign our resources more efficiently and effectively coordinate with partner agencies.”
The solution has timers built in to let incident commanders know how long certain personnel of been on fire attack. When a firefighter is entered as on fire attack, the icon is green. At the end of a preassigned timeframe, the icon will turn yellow, signaling that the time interval selected for that firefighter has expired.
That feature allows incident commanders to track firefighters’ rehab and active time history and ensure compliance with the National Fire Protection Association standard 1854.
Riley said, “With the tablet, we can easily keep track of 20 to 30 resources. My battalion commander can see and update each of the assignments on the one tablet display, no matter where he or she is on scene.”
There are other benchmark features built into the system, such as reminders and lists. “Mayday is a nightmare and you need to be on your ‘A’ game,” Morrison said. “In my mind the biggest nightmare is to forget something important to help mitigate this emergency for somebody who needs it.”
The solution also generates a digital incident log, recording every action taken. “Say a firefighter gets injured or loses his or her life. The department needs to have data to show that it’s doing things correctly,” Morrison said. “And a crumpled up, coffee-stained piece of paper is not going to cut the mustard, whereas an extensive log that you can print out and shows every move you made will.”