Charleston Fire Department Uses New Technology to Help Save Lives

By: Jennifer Rizzi Email
By: Jennifer Rizzi Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- When it comes to saving lives, the Charleston Fire Department doesn't want to waste time.

"Fires grow exponentially as time goes, so a few minutes can make a big difference in a fire," Deputy Chief Bob Sharp said.

That's why the department is tapping into new technology and getting the latest tools to make sure they're staffed and ready to run when emergency calls.

"Every morning from about seven to nine o'clock, it's difficult for us to move everyone where they need to go and work the schedule out, so we're hoping this makes it easier," Sharp said.

He's talking about new scheduling software called TeleStaffing. Officials say the automatic system puts members with the right training in the right places, avoiding confusion and freeing up time.

"Before, we would have to get on the telephone and call one person at a time," Sharp said. "Occasionally, you think a guy's off and he's not, or the other way around. Hopefully this software keeps us from making some of the human errors that happen in all workplaces."

But that's not all. Officials say they also want to buy a mobile tracking system that would allow 911 dispatchers to reach individual fire trucks out on the road.

"It would greatly improve our response time," Sharp said. "You might have a fire engine that's going to get fuel. Instead of dispatching the closest station, you would dispatch the closest engine."

Officials say they've applied for a grant from Kanawha County to purchase the mobile tracking system.

They say all fire departments across the county could use it if they purchase units for their own engines.

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