Fire Marshal Roger Parker of Elk Creek Fire District (CO) offers his tips below on integrating Emergency Reporting data into Google Maps to provide cost-effective, dynamic mobile preplans for firefighter use in the field.
The Elk Creek Fire District is a combination fire department serving the Conifer area in the beautiful Colorado mountains. One of our challenges is how to quickly provide preplan information in a usable format to firefighters in the field. We started using Emergency Reporting (ER) in late 2016. After spending a year gathering and inputting occupancy data, hazard data and fire protection system data into ER, we started looking for a way to pull that data back out and make it available to firefighters in the field using mobile technology.
As Fire Marshal, I use ER on a tablet. I also use Google Maps extensively to find my way around the mountainous terrain. While ER provides mapping integration, I use Google Maps to provide me with my current location or directions to my next inspection. I also need the offline mapping capabilities of Google Maps. It recently occurred to me that I could export our Emergency Reporting preplan data and import it into the My Maps section of Google Maps to create a preplan map within Google Maps. That would allow me to use Google Maps offline anywhere in the fire district to see essential preplan information, find my location and get directions.
I started by creating a map layer for fire hydrant locations and it worked great. I then added other layers for sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, Knox Box locations, electrical locations, gas meter locations and hazardous materials. These layers can be individually turned on and off by each user (see the map here). The ER/Google Maps integration exceeded my expectations. In the past we created preplans for each individual building. Using Google Maps I was able to integrate our ER data to build a district-wide preplan map that shows all the essential response information for all buildings in the district on one map. This digital preplan map is available 24/7 to all career and volunteer firefighters on any mobile device. When a firefighter touches a map icon on the map layer, the object information from ER is displayed in a popup window. As Fire Marshal I manage and update the map, and any changes and additions I make are immediately available on the map.
After realizing the potential of this technology integration, we started adding fire station and fire hydrant information from our neighboring fire departments to make our map into a regional preplan map. Since we currently don’t have mobile data terminals in our apparatus we can now use our Google Maps preplan as a digital emergency response tool on mobile devices to provide our location, directions and important preplan information to the Fire Officer during responses and for on-scene incident management. In addition, firefighters can visually study the preplan map to increase their knowledge of district hazards, risks and fire protection systems in advance. With the success of this project I’m now building a map to show the location of burn permits, which must be highly regulated in the mountains. I’m also building a map showing active construction projects and a map with inspection map layers for each month’s scheduled inspections to allow me to quickly visualize inspections on my tablet to better plan and manage inspections.
In anticipation of a new regional dispatch center coming online in 2018 we’re capturing the latitude and longitude for each essential preplan object so this data could be pushed to Emergency Reporting’s partners such as First Due Size-Up, enabling them to display on maps during each emergency response.
In summary, Emergency Reporting makes it possible to integrate with Google Maps to implement a cost effective, easy-to-implement digital firefighter tool for use on mobile devices in the field. (Note: At this time, the Google Map limitations are nine layers and 2,000 objects per map, which limits one map to smaller fire departments. Larger fire departments would need to use multiple maps).
Roger Parker, Fire Marshal, Elk Creek Fire District (Conifer, CO)
To learn more or request pricing on the Google Maps Integration add-on for Emergency Reporting, visit https://explore.emergencyreporting.com/product/google-integration/