The Southern Marin Fire Protection District in Marin County, California, serves the areas of Tamalpais Valley, Almonte, Homestead Valley, Alto, Strawberry, Tiburon, Sausalito, Fort Baker, and Marin Headlands, at the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, bordered by the Pacific Ocean and Richardson Bay. Their response setting ranges from small suburban settings, a growing wildland urban interface, large commercial and industrial areas to coastal chaparrals, mountains, wetlands, and the San Francisco Bay.

Operations range from firefighting, rescue, and EMS across three shifts to inspections, public education, vegetation management and administrative services. Over 85 personnel operate out of five fire stations and an administrative building. An executive management team is responsible for overseeing areas of administration, operations, and prevention. The department also operates under a shared services agreement with the Mill Valley Fire Department under a single management structure for operations, administration, and training.

Managing communications across this district has not been easy. In the past the primary means were email, an intranet service and sporadic internal newsletters, station visits and word of mouth. Fire Chief Chris Tubbs said that those methods resulted in delays in communication and lost messages. Chief Tubbs said that they first noticed First Arriving’s digital dashboards online. Intrigued, they investigated the different options that could meet the department’s needs.

“First, these dashboards create situational awareness for the firefighters, by a picture is worth a thousand words,” said Chief Tubbs. “Putting our Tablet Command and other agency information on here, with the new generation of firefighters, who are very visual based, allows new information to be distributed fast.”

Along with the Tablet Command integration, Southern Marin is also using Vector Scheduling, Emergency Reporting, Google Sheets and Google Slides, Google Calendar, Traffic Cams, Social Media Links, and one for marine information. The department is also using turnout time dials in their system.

“Second, we had dialogue about wanting more information in a multi-layer approach.” Chief Tubbs added, “People consume information in different ways, and having one more layer helps consume the information very quickly.” Chief Tubbs added that they are already exploring using the dashboards with wildland information.

Southern Marin FPD is also developing a drone program and the possibility of having live feed from the drone shown on the dashboards. “This will enhance the visualization for crews being deployed, following the principle that as soon as we get the information, we can push it out to the crews.” Additional video possibilities being looked at also include property cameras at all fire station locations where live feed can be shown, enhancing station security while firefighters are away.

“We’ve been very impressed with First Arriving’s responsiveness and with their technical staff,” said Tubbs. “Any requests we put in; they were handled so fast. We’re very impressed with their quality, dependability, and commitment.”

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