Boston firefighters to use building data to navigate blazes
Boston’s firefighters are going digital.
A new initiative between Boston fire departments and city data analysts, spearheaded by Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn, will equip emergency fire response vehicles with so-called “building intelligence” software to allow firefighters to access building blueprints and details on fire suppression systems. According to Finn, the new tool will enhance first responders’ ability to strategize in the moments between being alerted of a fire and arriving at the scene.
“The more tools we can get in the hands of a firefighter, the more knowledge they have upon entering a fire, the better off we are,” said Finn. “When you’re in that high-stakes environment, every second counts and every decision matters.”
The software will tap into information from numerous city departments, such as the Department of Inspectional Services and Permitting, in order to compile a status report on target buildings. The reports will be updated in real time, and include code violation histories as well as the precise locations of nearby fire hydrants and standpipes.
Although the Boston Fire Department currently maintains a database of files on certain residences, these are only updated sporadically and do not contain information from external sources. The addition of data from other city departments and a streamlined interface will drastically improve the system’s efficiency.
“We know so many things about properties in Boston,” Jascha Franklin-Hodge, the city’s chief information officer, said. “Our goal is to have it so the guys in the truck are walking into the situation with all the information.”
Franklin-Hodge’s office has a team working to integrate the new software into the fire engines’ existing hardware, and hopes to deploy the system within the next few months.