Technology helping Golden firefighters cut emergency response times

9:52 PM, Sep 7, 2013   |    comments
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GOLDEN - The past two fire seasons have taught us the importance of a quick response.

Seconds matter, as fast-moving fires threaten property and lives.
9NEWS followed a newstip to Golden, where new technology is helping firefighters dramatically reduce response times.

This technology is all about making firefighting more efficient.

Every time a call comes in, Golden's volunteer firefighters get an alert on their smart phones.

They can choose to respond or not.

And that's just the beginning of how this technology is making people safer.

"When you call 911, you want us to be here as fast as possible," Lt. Chad Wachs said.

Wachs says new mapping technology is cutting fire response times from an average of 6 to 7 minutes to 4 to 5 minutes.

On average, firefighters now arrive 2 minutes earlier.

"It's been amazing," Wachs said. "From the time you call 911 to the time we get there, the amount of data I've now got in front of me is unlike anything we've had in the past."

Firefighters see a Google map of your house, all the hydrants in your neighborhood, and the location of other crews.

Administrative Coordinator Debbie Testroet calls this a huge improvement

"We had to pull out a big, big 11" by 17" map book and every time we did a map book update we had to put it in 18 different rigs," Testroet said.

Now, updates go out instantly to include new roads and construction.

Firefighters used the technology to find a car, which fell into Clear Creek along Highway 6 on June 12.

GPS can lead rescuers to stranded drivers or hikers, who may not know their exact location.

Just like any cell phone based technology, things can get a little tricky in areas with spotty cell service.

That's why the Colorado School of Mines designed customized backup software, which allows Golden firefighters to view their map books right on their mobile devices.

"It's tremendous," Deputy Fire Marshal Steven Parker said.

Parker says building inspections are now faster and more organized.

"The occupants, when we give them our report, they don't have to try and read our handwriting," Parker said.

Typed reports now include photos, attachments and are instantly emailed.

The system is also saving money, coming in $60,000 below budget.

Firefighters know the real savings is those valuable seconds.

Saving time can help save lives.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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