Surrey Fire Services uses FDM Software for Effective Data Management

Surrey Fire Communications Centre provides dispatch services to 12 other municipalities and as of 2010, the Centre will be dispatching eighteen new fire departments. Surrey represents the model of a regional fire dispatch centre servicing various communities through its advanced technology and superior operations system including FDM Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) and Records Management System (RMS). With FDM Workspacing, multiple agencies share the same database and software to streamline reporting and reduce overall cost. Workspacing provides a completely configurable environment in which information sharing and privacy is agency specific.

FDM’s integrated CAD and RMS system provides Surrey Fire Services with the right tools to effectively manage their information. With such a large amount of data, having a reliable information management system is integral to efficient operations. “The data we are dealing with is vital. Any delay in accessing that information could result in valuable information being withheld from responding firefighters and may be a life or safety issue,” says Deputy Fire Chief Karen Fry, Surrey Fire Services. Furthermore, data is shared between modules, eliminating the need for duplicate data entry and resulting in a more efficient use of resources.

One of the biggest benefits of an information management system is the opportunity to analyze the information and make informed decisions. “Information critical to the delivery of emergency services is easily available for analysis. We can analyze trends for service demands, response patterns, apparatus placement and fire station locations,” says Fry.

FDM CAD was such a success that the Surrey Fire Services recently decided to expand their capabilities with FDM Mobile CAD, ensuring rapid deployment in the field. The mobile solution provides full voiceless dispatching capabilities including instant access to statusing, data and property information, alerts, hazards, pre-plan contact and mapping information, in addition to hyperlinks to a pre-plan database allowing Fire Officers to quickly download the required document. FDM Mobile CAD also provides instantaneous notifications to smart phone devices providing agency members with up-to-date incident information.

In addition to implementing Mobile CAD in all frontline apparatus, the Fire Services purchased a Mobile CAD unit for “swap-outs” for use when apparatus are undergoing maintenance. “We purchased the additional unit because FDM Mobile CAD has become so useful that our firefighters don’t want to work without it,” says Fry. “All the information they need is in the system and is much easier to access. Our radio traffic has also dropped dramatically allowing our dispatchers to focus on providing the incident support and improving their capacity. This all illustrates how our new means of communication has been quite effective.”

Surrey Fire Services also hosts Mobile CAD for North Vancouver City and District, West Vancouver District, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.

Another recent addition to Surrey’s dispatching operations is FDM eLink, software that links British Columbia Ambulance Services (BCAS) to FDM CAD. FDM’s enterprise solution is now fully interoperable with the BCAS CAD software. FDM eLink provides an electronic link between BCAS incident information and FDM CAD.

Prior to FDM’s eLink release, dispatchers had a BCAS terminal (in addition to their FDM CAD workstation) alerting them of medical incidents. Dispatchers would retype the incident location and details into FDM CAD manually then determine whether the department responsible was going to respond before dispatching apparatus. This process not only took time but led to the possibility of errors due to retyping information, not ideal when dealing with emergency situations.

FDM eLink simplifies the process significantly and has a direct effect on response times. Now the dispatchers at Surrey Fire Services see medical incidents on the same screen as standard 911 calls, allowing them to efficiently process the call, initiate the correct response and send an acknowledgement to BCAS, resulting in effective collaboration and enhanced pre-hospital patient care.

“This new link to BCAS is a huge factor in our ability to effectively collaborate with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and reduce response times,” says Fry. “The end result is that the public gets the help that they need in times of emergency, promptly. It also allows each Fire Chief to select which specific types of medical emergencies their department will respond to and only those selected will populate the dispatcher’s CAD screen.”

The Surrey Fire Service is one of the largest composite fire departments in Canada with 17 fire halls, 12 of which are staffed with career only. Surrey Fire Services provides high quality professional dispatching services, fire protection, fire prevention, medical aid, rescue services, hazardous materials response and education services.

Surrey provides dispatch services for the following municipalities: White Rock, Langley City, Langley Township, Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows North Vancouver City, North Vancouver District, West Vancouver District, Bowen Island, Lions Bay and the Squamish Lillooet Regional District North (Lillooet, Bralorne and Seton Valley). New client service agreements to begin in 2010 include the Columbia Shuswap Regional District encompassing the municipalities of Salmon Arm, Revelsoke, Golden, Sicamous and the Township of Field in the Canadian Rockies.