Myrtle Beach Fire Department tests out new life-saving system - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Myrtle Beach Fire Department tests out new life-saving system

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The city of Myrtle Beach is pushing to be at the forefront of the latest technology to benefit you. The fire department is piloting a digital data program through the Myrtle Beach Company, SiteTech Systems.

The Myrtle Beach Fire Department tested this technology at the new hotel, Ocean 22, during an inspection.

During inspections, the fire department has to keep track of every attribute in a building: the sprinklers, the fire extinguishers, entryways, exits, emergency systems, generators, stairwells and all other information important in an emergency situation. Fire crews also have to gather every detail at a scene.

This system would allow firefighters to throw out the pen and paper, and pull together all their data to one digitally-centralized location. It will also automatically sync information back to the department. This will save firefighters time logging information when they get back, and keep the station in the know during an emergency.

It's called GIS - or Geographic Information Systems. The fire department already uses GIS for many things, especially locating an emergency. This GIS system would be specific to the layout of each building.

"It's very critical that our rescue teams can have quality data," Patrick Rhodes with SiteTech Systems said. "They are already collecting it, so what we're really trying to do is make their use of it easier because, the more information you have, the easier it is to respond to an incident."

The use of this mobile app will ultimately enhance your safety.

"We work in seconds, so every second counts when we arrive on scene. So the faster we can get information, the better off the commander on the ground is," Myrtle Beach Fire Battalion Chief Bruce Arnel said.

Arnel said technology has already proven to be beneficial to the department, through the use of iPads, and he wants to continue to keep our crews ahead of the curve.

"Anything we can do that can decrease the amount of time it takes to gather lifesaving information is a plus," he said.

The city's GIS coordinator, Lisa Holzberger, said they're working on growing GIS-based programs. If this program takes off in the future, we could eventually see it expand to other departments like construction services, planning, public works, eventually linking all the city's information back to one place.

"We're just always growing, and expanding, we're trying to find new ways of doing things," Holzberger said. "We definitely want to get away from paper, and become more digital in all our applications."

Right now, this is just a pilot program. No money has been budgeted towards the project. The first step today is just to test it out, then to decide if they'll move forward from there.

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