For an incident commander, keeping track of firefighters and equipment at the scene of an emergency can be a paper-intensive, manual process. Before deploying a system that uses radio frequency identification tags to track firefighters, the Dayville, Conn., Fire Company distributed tags to firefighters at the door of a burning building before they entered it and then retrieved the tag upon coming out.

The fire company deployed OnSite ERT (emergency resource tracking) from Michigan-based ERT Systems to track personnel at an incident and improve post-incident accountability. The system is composed of a management console, lunch-box-sized tag readers, and a wearable radio frequency identification (RFID) tag that fits in an equipment pocket on a firefighter's suit and broadcasts his location to the reader and back to the management software. That allows incident commanders to easily generate an account of the entire incident and where each firefighter is at all times.

En route to the scene, the incident commander starts the software. Upon arriving on the scene, the incident commander places the readers around the hot zone as part of the initial assessment, defines the different areas in software and ties the readers to the zones in the software. In addition to letting the incident commander know where the firefighters are, the software also can provide a reminder to do a periodic roll call.

Go to Emergency Management's Web site for more information on RFID tracking of firefighters.