Fire trucks go paperless | November 14, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - November 14, 2012

Fire trucks go paperless

by Dave Boyce

Firefighters often have reading to do as they're heading to a situation. It could be a hazardous materials spill or a fire safety inspection of a building or a traffic accident involving a Prius, which may present an electrical hazard when trying to extract a victim. To review procedures for these situations, the cabs of fire trucks have long been equipped with informational binders and books, but that's changing.

Seven fire engines in the Menlo Park Fire Protection District now have Apple iPads installed, Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said in a statement. The point is to continue to improve firefighters' "situational awareness," but in a paperless way.

The district presented the new technology at fire district headquarters at 300 Middlefield Road on Nov. 8. The $10,390 used to fund this pilot project was a gift from Heffernan Insurance Brokers, based in Walnut Creek but with offices in Menlo Park, and Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, based in Novato, Chief Schapelhouman said.

The Menlo Park district's ladder truck and its battalion command vehicle will be similarly equipped, but financed with public funds. The fire district serves Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto and nearby unincorporated areas.

"The rapid growth of mobile technology and ongoing need to evolve emergency services has inspired the Fire District to re-evaluate its operational efficiencies and the ways in which it conducts its day to day business," Emergency Services Manager Ryan Zollicoffer said in the the district's announcement.

The district converted its existing paper documents into a format compatible with iPads and now uses them to review floor plans ahead of building inspections. The new technology saves money by reducing administrative overhead. Other possible applications include hydrant and vehicle inspections and patient care.


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