GREENFIELD — A new digital mapping program will boost safety and efficiency for firefighters during building inspections and emergency runs, Greenfield Fire Territory officials said.
The $9,000 program, called MobileEyes, allows firefighters to make digital maps of buildings in the city during their annual checks, noting where water connections, hydrants and entrances are located, as well as where potential hazards — like chemicals or other flammable materials — are kept in the building, officials said.
In the event of an emer-gency, having that information handy could save precious seconds while keeping first-responders safe, fire chief James Roberts said.
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The department acquired the computer program late last year, Roberts said. Firefighters are wrapping up training on the new program, and the department should be using it full time in the next few weeks.
Until now, the department’s building inspections have been done with pen and paper, and processing the forms after each check can be time-consuming, Greenfield Fire Marshal Brian Lott said.
Annual building inspections had fallen by the wayside before Lott, the city’s first full-time fire marshal, joined the department last fall, officials said; the department regularly visited high-priority locations — schools, daycare centers and the local hospital, for example — but inspections on some commercial buildings were delayed as the department stretched its resources to cover the more than 3,000 emergency calls it receives each year.
MobileEyes allows inspectors to move through the business more quickly, making notes about blocked doors, the lighting of exit signs and location of electrical cords with the tap of a tablet’s screen, firefighter Brett Towle said.
Towle, who has served as one of the department’s inspectors for more than 12 years, said the time he’s spent conducting each inspection has already been cut in half by using the new program, he said.
With a pen and paper, inspections take an average of 40 minutes, Towle said; but the new system has cut that down by about 20 minutes, freeing up his time to visit more businesses.
The forms inspectors fill out during an inspection are uploaded electronically, Lott said. MobileEyes then emails a list of violations to owners and contractors, streamlining the first step in addressing potential hazards, Lott said.
As the inspectors make their way around the city, they’ll be able to make detailed copies of each building’s floor plans, noting details about rooms, such as where partition walls are positioned, Roberts said.
First-responders can then access those records during an emergency calls, even pulling up the information electronically while en route to a fire or other emergency, Robert said.
A search for the address will pull up the floor plan and give firefighters a better idea of how to best direct their resources, he said.
For example, if a fire started in the same corner of a building where an inspector have noted flammable chemicals were stored, emergency crews will know what firefighting tactic is needed to keep everyone safe, Roberts said.
Those advantages are tremendous when heading into an emergency, firefighter Jeff Dixon said.
Firefighters will know where to park the trucks to have the closest access to the hydrants; whether the building has a sprinkler system that is already working on the flames; and which entrance will give them the best advantage, he cited as examples.
MobileEyes is a planning tool unlike anything the department has ever had before — a long-overdue addition to the departments supply list, Dixon said.
The city’s Board of Works and Public Safety approved the $9,000 purchase in late 2015.
Mayor Chuck Fewell said the city is always willing to invest in something that will help keep residents and firefighters safe.
Greenfield is the first fire department in the county to utilize the MobileEyes system, Lott added.
Making a catalog of all the public buildings in the city could take a year or longer, he said.
MobileEyes lets firefighters denote:
– Fire department water connections
– Electric shut off
– Water shut off
– Gas shut off
– Knox Box
– Hazardous material storage
– Specialty room