The Roanoke (VA) Fire-EMS Department is a growing fire department located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia, protecting 43-square-miles and a population of over 100,000 people. With 11 stations across two battalions, the full-service department provides a wide range of service, from fire suppression and advanced life support to heavy technical rescue and community risk reduction, using over 300 uniformed and civilian personnel.

As the department grows and continues to meet the demands of the citizens it serves, its method of internal communication has also grown, and now is on a level that provides a daily, real time reporting of information across all 11 stations. Fire Chief David Hoback said that early on the department relied on email, a network drive, and face-to-face interaction for communication on all levels within the department. The department also has a monthly newsletter that goes out to the whole department.

This basic level of information sharing has now been enhanced with the use of digital dashboards in each fire station. Chief Hoback says that they first saw the digital dashboards from First Arriving at the Virginia Fire Rescue Conference and were interested in the many features available as well as means to distribute essential information.

“The dashboards are a great point of situational awareness for us as for as where the organization is each day,” said Chief Hoback.

Following the hiring of a tech-savvy deputy chief, the department contacted First Arriving to setup and install the dashboards. While only in service for a month so far, Chief Hoback says the members love it. The dashboard system pulls daily staffing from CrewSense for all 11 stations and their dedicated apparatus.

Using the integration of Active911, emergency calls for companies are broadcast across the dashboards in each station so personnel can see what is happening across the city and be increasingly aware of who is on the street working and who is in quarters. The system also displays the real time status of reserve apparatus across the department.

Along with staffing, calls, and reserve apparatus conditions, the dashboards also display training information. Personnel can now continually see when training is scheduled and what companies are involved. Along with the training calendar, the department is using a dedicated events calendar to include a variety of subjects, such as hydrant maintenance.

Everything from current staffing to upcoming training is consistently delivered to firefighters in all of Roanoke’s fire stations through the dashboard system that in turn enhances the situational awareness of each firefighter on duty, giving him or her information immediately while they work.

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