Tupelo, Saltillo fire departments logging hydrants on GPS

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

Tupelo and Saltillo fire departments are taking measures that should pay off with faster and more prepared response during structure fires.
The agencies are logging each of their fire hydrants’ coordinates on a GPS.
As a part of the project, they are taking all of the information about each hydrant and logging it with those coordinates.
The goal is to be able to have a captain, while en route to a fire, pull up the address of the burning structure on a computer mounted in the fire truck and locate all of the nearby fire hydrants to create a plan for running lines and getting water on the fire.
Along with the locations of the hydrants, Tupelo Fire Chief Thomas Walker and Saltillo Fire Chief Mark Nowell said they are collecting the hydrants’ flow (gallons pumped per minute), aerial photographs of the location and the hydrants’ service records.
“This way, if you’re going to a commercial structure fire you know you need a lot more water and you can figure out how to lay lines to get the most water,” Walker said.
Walker said creating a plan en route to the fire will save valuable time.
“When we have the technology to pull up fire hydrant info on a computer while driving to the scene, all of the information will be there and ready to use,” Nowell said.
Until then, GPS information is being used on mobile GPS devices in the trucks now. Nowell said they have printed booklets with each hydrant’s essential information for each truck to use on the way to a fire.
Walker said they can access the information on their server until the trucks are updated with wireless capability.
Walker said they have a majority of Tupelo hydrants logged through the city’s Geographic Information Systems department and should have the database complete within a year.
Saltillo has logged all of the GPS coordinates for the city’s hydrants and is now working to log each hydrant’s essential information and put that information on their trucks.
Nowell said having the coordinates for each hydrant will give the firefighters options to plan around a pump with a low output or when a second truck needs to hook up to an additional hydrant. Having the ability to plan before arriving at the scene, he said, is time saving.
jb.clark@journalinc.com