New system will be big help to Avalon VFC

For the benefit of those who have never experienced a fire scene up close, it can appear to be a confused mass of people going every which way clad in heavy bunker suits and air tanks, hoses being attached to fire hydrants and pulled in various directions, flashing lights, sirens, ladders being raised, and lots and lots of trucks and firefighters racing in to help save someone’s home or business.

While to the outsider it may seem like complete bedlam, it actually is a well choreographed response by highly trained firefighters, almost all of them volunteers. Despite the training, however, it is still critical that a fire chief or incident commander know exactly where everyone is, and where they should be.

The Avalon Volunteer Fire Company recently purchased a new computerized system that will not only track every firefighter on the scene, but give the chief invaluable information to best respond to the fire.

Avalon’s trucks are now equipped with a computerized system that includes two mobile tablets. As soon as the address of the fire is typed in, the chief gets a 360-degree photo of the structure that will allow him to decide where equipment should be placed.

Avalon firefighters now wear a scannable badge that will allow the system to track them throughout the building. In addition, it clocks how long each firefighter has been inside, and sounds an alarm at 30 minutes, indicating that firefighter needs to be pulled out.

The system also can be used to assign firefighters to different areas of the structure as conditions change, as well as assign them to various tasks.

In the North Boroughs, most fires see a response from a number of fire companies. If those companies have a similar system, the two will sync to allow the incident commander to monitor firefighters from other companies. If they don’t have such a system, the neighboring firefighters can be entered manually.

Avalon Fire Chief Chuck Berie, pictured here with firefighters Brad Gregor (left) and Jim Kenney (right) and the mobile tablets now in use, said that the system will allow his firefighters to attack a fire more effectively, all the while keeping the firefighters safer because they are being so closely monitored.

The system was designed by Philip Boggs, himself a firefighter, and distributed through Boggs Systems and Solutions in McDonald, PA