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Web-Based Response System Aids Fire Companies

First responders from Enterprise Fire Co. and Horsham Fire Co. keep up-to-the-second tabs on who is responding to calls with help from a Web-based program.

Want to know who's responding to the scene of a fire instantaneously?

There's an app for that.

Firefighters from Hatboro's volunteer-run Enterprise Fire Co., as well as paid and volunteer firefighters from Horsham Fire Co. use a Web-based system called I Am Responding, which works with its members' mobile phones to quickly share pertinent information such as who is responding to a fire, if they are driving a ladder truck and more. 

"If I'm at the scene, I can now see if my trucks are getting out," Enterprise Fire Co. Deputy Chief Jim Anders III told Patch of the department's newly installed equipment. "Sometimes, during the day, I could be going to the scene and there might not be a driver. If I don't have a truck it's useless."

Horsham Fire Co. Chief Tim Flanagan said the system is also visible to members from their home computers and laptops.

"This means that we can see it from most of our trucks that have computers in them as well," Flanagan said. 

Knowing immediately who is responding, from where and what vehicles are en route saves precious time, Anders said. Currently, the Hatboro department's 51 members are using the system, which was installed about a month ago, he said. 

Besides knowing with immediacy which members are responding when a call comes in, the system also plots out days and times when members would be unavailable because of work or other commitments, Anders said. Having a built-in schedule, literally in the palm of one's hand, gives members insight about which of their peers would not be able to respond.

This comes in handy for Horsham, particularly since the township operates two stations and is run by a blend of career personnel and volunteers. Through the system, Flanagan said the department lists who is on duty at the firehouses and who is responding to a call and to which station.

"This provides us an opportunity to assess our current resources associated with a particular emergency and/or if we have enough for another emergency in Horsham Township," Flanagan said.

Flanagan said I Am Responding also provides the department with a schedule to list all the events going on at either firehouse such as training, tours and meetings. 

According to I Am Responding's Web site, the system is used by more than 150,000 emergency responders. The three-step process during an emergency, according to the site, is for a first responder to receive a page, "press one button on any phone" and share with your station who is responding and when.

During the fire department's drill night this week, Anders showed Patch how easy the system—which is connected to a big screen TV in the station—is to navigate. 

Funded in Hatboro by the Enterprise Fire Co. Relief Association, the program allows for the distribution of station-wide texts and emails and gives reports of trucks in service. 

Every little bit helps as "time's ticking away" during emergencies and fire companies have only five minutes to respond to a call, Anders said. 

Anders' father, Jim Anders Jr., the safety officer for Enterprise Fire Co., said the Philadelphia Fire Commissioner and Deputy Fire Commissioner, during a recent visit to Hatboro's station, were impressed by the equipment. 

"Not to many companies have it up and running," the elder Anders told Patch. "We already have it. It's kind of amazing. I didn't even think that Philly wouldn't have something like that."

Cora Rowe February 08, 2013 at 09:06 PM
It certainly makes you feel safer to see all the hard work the fire company does. Thanks so much!
John Ketterer February 09, 2013 at 05:47 AM
Thanks for another great story Teresa. As a member of the fire company we appreciate the articles.

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