Fire Department Tablets as Digital Incident Command Boards

By: Mike Roth, iOS Developer, Emergent

Tablets have become an increasingly integral tool in the fire service, offering a range of functionalities that can aid firefighters in their work. Traditionally, tablets have been used for purposes such as accessing reference materials like fire codes and maps, communicating with other responders via messaging and voice communication apps, and tracking the location and availability of resources, such as equipment and personnel.

How is Technology expanding the usefulness of tablets?

In recent years, the use of tablets in the fire service has become more sophisticated. One of the most significant developments has been the use of tablets as digital incident command boards. This innovation allows commanders to monitor the location and status of all responders on the scene, and to coordinate the response to an emergency situation in real-time. Compared to conventional incident command methods, tablet-based command provides detailed annotations and visual aids to provide information at a glance, allowing the commander to focus on the scene rather than command tools - enhancing the commander’s situational awareness.

Real-time situational awareness is a critical advantage of using tablets as digital incident command boards. The ability to monitor the location and status of all responders on the scene in real-time enables commanders to make informed decisions about how to allocate resources. This level of situational awareness allows the command staff to respond more quickly and make decisions based on the most up-to-date information available. In addition, the use of digital command boards enables commanders to have a clearer understanding of the overall situation and to better anticipate potential challenges that may arise.

Benefits of Using a Digital Command Board

In the demanding environment of fire and emergency response, efficiency, coordination, and safety are paramount. Traditional incident command methods can be time-consuming, incomplete, and error-prone, leading to potential delays and mistakes. The integration of digital incident command boards on fire department tablets has marked a significant shift in the way fire services operate, and Emergent's Fire Tactical Boards have emerged as a leading solution in this transformation.

Real-Time Visualization

With Emergent's Fire Tactical Boards, Incident Commanders can visualize live incidents directly on their tablets. This includes the ability to see all connected calls, units, equipment, and personnel in a unified interface. The real-time connection and easy drag-and-drop functionality have eliminated traditional tools such as printed checklists and conventional accountability systems, providing Incident Commanders with an intuitive tool that allows for rapid decision-making.

Fireground Safety

Firefighter safety is paramount to successful scene response.  Real-time fireground reports provide the incident commander with immediate feedback on the conditions, actions and needs (CAN reports) of crews on scene. When conditions change rapidly or a fireground emergency occurs personnel accountability reports (PARs) provide the incident commander with the status and location of all crewmembers on scene.

Conventional methods for tracking CANs and PARs often require use of white boards or scratch pads and introduce complexity and human error. Emergent Fire Tactical Boards provide a simple, clear interface for CANs and PARs and also provide customizable checklists for Mayday event tracking. Simplifying these tools reduces the cognitive load on the command staff during fireground emergencies and allows commanders to focus on the scene at hand.

Guided Protocol and Checklist Integration

Emergent has gone a step further by integrating guided checklists into the Fire Tactical Boards. These customizable checklists, based on the latest fire and EMS tactics and protocols, support Incident Commanders by providing a structured approach to incident management. Integrating custom checklists into the command platform allows the Commander to readily follow preplans and SOPs and reduces human error.

Enhanced Collaboration and Accessibility

Emergent Tactical Boards enable seamless collaboration among different units and agencies involved in an incident. The tablet-based solution ensures that the information is accessible to all relevant personnel on the field and in command centers, ensuring a more coordinated response. Emergent's integration encompasses not only the telemetry from the vehicles but also a variety of tools and devices, further enhancing the effectiveness and safety of fire operations.

Inspection and Tracking

Emergent’s solutions are not limited to the response phase. Their modules also manage and track inspections across a jurisdiction, including code violations, inspection records, and building stock tracking. This allows for an improved understanding of potential hazards and resources, supporting both preventive measures and incident response.

The integration of digital incident command boards on fire department tablets has continued to significantly transform the way fire services operate. Emergent's Fire Tactical Boards exemplify the evolution of incident management, offering a set of tools that enable better planning, real-time visualization, guided protocols, and enhanced collaboration.

Overall, the use of tablets in the fire service is continually evolving. While tablets have traditionally been used for a variety of purposes, they are now being used in more sophisticated ways, such as digital incident command boards. Emergent's innovative solutions can help fire departments to implement a tablet-based digital incident command board and improve the safety and effectiveness of their emergency response operations. The ability to provide real-time situational awareness and detailed annotations and visual aids offers critical advantages over traditional command center methods, allowing commanders to make more informed decisions and respond more effectively to emergency situations.

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