Technology Benefits Lucas Fire Rescue

Technology Benefits Lucas Fire Rescue

Effective Oct. 1, 2019, Lucas FR switched from Plano Safety Communications System to Wylie Public Safety Communication Dispatch system. Lucas Fire Chief Ted Stephens said, “The main reason we changed is to better serve our citizens.  The average dispatch time in the new system is about 15 seconds.  We are notified of the call for service electronically, while the dispatcher continues to obtain information from the caller.  The notes are uploaded to our Mobile Data Computer (MDC) every time the dispatcher enters a comment.  We can get en route quicker and gather additional information as we travel to the scene.  In addition, Wylie and Fairview are on the same dispatch system, so mutual aid gets en route quicker if they are needed.  We also gain Wylie as automatic aid.” Chief Stephens provided an additional benefit to the community, “We are working with Wylie and Fairview to implement through dispatch a way to have the closest available unit respond to a call.  For example, if an emergency medical call is received from the north end of the city, a Fairview paramedic engine could be dispatched with our ambulance.  This would get a paramedic on scene quicker.  The same would happen with the south end of the city where a Wylie paramedic engine could be dispatched with our ambulance.”

Chief Stephens said that the decision to switch from Plano to Wylie wasn’t made due to bad service. He said, “Plano does an amazing job.” He adds, “While with Plano, everything was transmitted by radio, which takes time and personnel away from tasks.  With automated dispatch, the guys can head to the trucks instead of talking on the radio.  They get in the truck and all the call notes start popping up.  The system auto-imports the details into our reporting software as well.” 

Regarding how the transition has gone thus far, Chief Stephens said, “There was a lot of work completed before October 1, which made the transition go very smoothly.  We calculated just over 1,000 man hours went into making the transition almost seamless!”

In addition to the dispatch systems, Lucas FR also utilizes many other forms of technology which benefit the City of Lucas. They use thermal imaging cameras (TICs) to better help them locate hot spots in fire situations. They currently have two TICs, one on each engine. They purchased a new TIC with the new engine. Chief Stephens said, “We also have used them during missing persons calls and even once to help locate a cat in the wall of a home.”

: Lucas FR demonstrates one of their two TICs. “Thermal imaging cameras (TICs) are devices that translate thermal energy (heat) into visible light in order to analyze a particular object or scene.” (Grainger.com)

: Lucas FR demonstrates one of their two TICs. “Thermal imaging cameras (TICs) are devices that translate thermal energy (heat) into visible light in order to analyze a particular object or scene.” (Grainger.com)

Over the last five years, Lucas FR has utilized computer based training (CBT) to standardize their volunteer and new hire training.  The CBT system was developed by retired training Chief David Leonard.  Chief Stephens describes the training process using CBTs, “It is simple.  We put them in front of a computer, help them locate the file, and push “play”.  Sounds too simple to be true, but it is that simple.  After the member watches the CBT, the on-duty station captain will supervise the member with the hands-on portion, and then document the completion of the assignment.” Chief Stephens explains how CBT benefits Lucas FR and the community, “Standardization of training would be my answer here.  Everyone hears the same thing to start with and then is able to get the hands on portion in a group setting.  Most of our full-timers have an instructor certification, so we are able to do most of our required training in-house, which cuts the costs of hiring outside instructors for most of our training.  With all that said, outside instruction, live-fire burns, and classroom instruction is very important to the success of the fire service.  This comes at a cost to the city, but the benefits much outweigh the costs.”

Chief Stephens extends the following invitation, “I want to personally invite you to stop by the station for a tour and demonstration.  The citizens of Lucas, through our city council, have done a tremendous job in supporting the fire department.  There are not many successful combination departments in the county, much less the state.  We are proud of what has been provided to us and welcome visitors anytime.”

Lucas Fire's new Computer-Aided Dispatch software "Integrated Computer Systems" allows them to communicate in real-time with Wylie Dispatch at the touch of a button.

Lucas Fire's new Computer-Aided Dispatch software "Integrated Computer Systems" allows them to communicate in real-time with Wylie Dispatch at the touch of a button.

 

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