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Originally published: 2012-09-28 10:41:07
Last modified: 2012-09-28 10:41:07

Avery County Fire Service implements IamResponding

Matthew Hundley / (matthew.hundley@averyjournal.com)

Avery County’s fire services are in the process of implementing a new software that could revolutionize the way firefighters respond to calls, according to Jim Brooks, secretary for Avery County Firefighters Association. IamResponding is a dispatching software that allows firefighters to text in when they are responding to a call and their approximate time of arrival. The software records the messages, creating readouts for dispatchers. While some of the benefits of such a service are obvious, others are not.

One of the most evident advantages to the system is that dispatchers and other firefighters have a comprehensive list of how many people will be on-site for any serious incident. One of the greatest benefits, according to Brooks, will be in cases of false alarms, when a call goes out, but is dismissed before many firefighters arrive. Why would the departments need to know how many people were on their way to a false alarm? There are two key reasons: First, each department’s insurance rating is determined in large part based on the number of personnel responding to calls. When a call is dismissed, most firefighters do not report to the station to sign-in for having responded to a false alarm. That rate of response, however, is one of the key factors in determining how much each homeowner pays in fire insurance, said Brooks. By having a record of everyone responding, even on false alarms, Avery’s fire departments will be able to improve their rating, helping to maintain or even reduce Avery County’s already low fire insurance rates.

According to Brooks, the second reason the list or responders will be valuable is the fire service’s new policy providing small compensation for volunteers on a call-by-call basis to help offset the cost of travel and other expenses that incur naturally when volunteering. IamResponding will help keep that new system accountable and record its activity.

Beyond tracking reporting firefighters, IamResponding will also track what trucks and other resources are in route, allowing firefighters to plan for the tools they will have, rather than waiting on equipment that is either out of commission or not on its way, Brooks said.

According to http://www.iamresponding.com, the program also includes many features designed to streamline fire station operation, including a calendar for meetings and events, a tracking system for volunteer training, incident reporting and attendance at meetings.

The process of loading the software on all of the necessary computers, implementing the systems and training all of the firefighters is still ongoing, but should conclude in the coming weeks, said Brooks.