ANDERSON – The Anderson Fire Department has taken another step into the 21st century with a computer program that provides instant information.
With eight stations and 110 firefighters working around the clock year-round, department officials see the new First Arriving software as a tool to improve communications.
First Arriving provides information relating to work fires, medical emergencies and training opportunities to all stations, as well as the transmission of work-related messages.
At each of the eight stations and in the fire chief’s offices is a monitor that can provide critical information to every member of the fire department. The system is also available on the department’s training site.
Information shared includes road closures, unsafe construction conditions and, during emergency calls, the fastest route to a scene and the location of the nearest fire hydrants.
For commanders and battalion commanders, the screens relay which firefighters are on duty and in the event of a fire or medical emergency, which units have been dispatched.
Information is provided as soon as central dispatch sends fire units to the scene, which officials say provides crucial information.
Deputy chief Todd Cawthorn said, along with health and safety chief Mark Keck, they worked about six months to get the system to Anderson and it took about a month to complete the installation. The cost to the fire department was under $5,000.
The First Arriving system also provides weather information, including wind speed and direction, which is critical when fighting a fire, Cravens said.
“I believe that with staff dispersed between fire stations and different shifts, it will increase internal communication to better serve the community,” Cravens said.
“It’s one of the ways we can communicate with everyone in the department,” Cawthorn said. “Before, we used an ordinary bulletin board. We are now in the digital age.
Keck said many new firefighters who were hired weren’t getting the information. He said the First Arrival system is used to provide daily training.
“It’s a great way to get the information out to people at work,” Keck said. “He relays best practices to everyone in the department.”
Cravens said the system is a way to train everyone.
Cawthorn noted that when veteran firefighters retire, they take with them a wealth of knowledge of how to navigate city streets to the scene of an emergency.
He said a video link in the station provides a map with directions, which is also available in each amenity.
“It will increase performance and safety for firefighters,” Cravens said. “Better communication keeps everyone in the loop and increases firefighter morale.”