DAYTON — When emergency strikes in rural areas, firefighters find it difficult to sit and wait for other crew members to arrive before heading out on a call. New technological additions at the Dayton Fire District enable firefighters responding to see other team members who are also on their way to the fire hall.
Ptolemy Data Systems helped Dayton Fire District install the software and monitors at the fire station close to a month ago. A one-year subscription to the service for agencies with less than 100 incidents per year costs $300 annually, with a one-time $50 set-up fee. Walmart provided $1,000 to Dayton Fire District to purchase the subscription and pay for installation.
Now a month in, firefighter Ryan Alley sees the benefit to the department.
“Overall, it’s been a great thing for us,” Alley said.
On Thursday this week, Dayton had a fire call, and one firefighter showed up by herself. Since she saw that someone else was coming, she waited before calling Ranchester Fire District or another department, which would take away from their resources.
When a call goes out, firefighters can respond via an application on their cellphones. The application tracks location using global positioning systems, so someone watching the call on the two screens at the department can track those responding, their estimated times of arrival and where exactly they are in relation to the station and the location of the call.
Also included on the map on the main monitors at the station are locations for every fire hydrant in Dayton.
“We have a lot of people coming in from different places at different times, so if we have somebody here who can punch in the address real quick, they (locate the fire hydrant) and know exactly where they’re going,” Alley said. “We’re still tracking who else is coming and we can split the map and not have the address on there, but it will have everything else.”
Goose Valley Fire Department installed the same technology a little less than a decade ago. Because of the volume of calls Goose Valley responds to, the department’s annual cost jumps up to around $700 annually. Goose Valley Fire Chief Bob Williams introduced it to the department after seeing it used by others during fire school and the National Fire Academy. Williams found the application successful for both the firefighters responding because they know how long it takes them to drive to the department from their homes, plus it gives responding members an idea of who is responding, if they need to respond, and if there are enough to cover the call.
For volunteers such as Alley, who teaches at Tongue River Middle School and raises young children, having the app notifications helps him know when he is needed.
“For me with the two kids, if we have a call that I see three people are going and I have the boys, I can say, ‘OK, we have enough for the call, I don’t have to try and find someone to watch the kids while I go out and do something,’” Alley said.
Alley said that, since Dayton and Ranchester fire districts work so closely together on calls, the department hopes to pair up with Ranchester and share costs and resources in the future.