October 6, 2020
Crestwood Fire Department uses technology to protect firefighters, citizens
Story originally posted by Maggie Kenworthy at The Municipal.
Despite a smaller population of around 11,000 residents, Crestwood, Mo., is taking great strides to make sure the local fire department stays up to date with the latest technology.
Crestwood Fire Chief Lou Hecht has brought on two new technologically advanced programs to the department since taking office in late 2018.
The first program is Safety Cloud, powered by the company HAAS Alert. This program allows drivers to receive digital alerts when fire engines are active nearby. The goal is for drivers to better comply with yielding to emergency vehicles so first responders can respond to emergencies without the risk of delay, collision, injury or death.
"It's a small little device that gets mounted on each one of our apparatus. It's connected to our emergency lighting. So, whenever our emergency lights turn on, like when we pull out of the engine house to go to a call, it activates the (Safety Cloud)," explained Hecht. "That signal goes out to anybody who has the navigation system Waze and provides an alert for those drivers who are near."
Along with the Waze app, some vehicles integrate with this system via their in-dash navigation. HAAS Alert is working to be included in other navigational services and more vehicle dashboards in the future.
Crestwood first began using this program in January, and in a seven-month period of time, the program alerted 2,397 drivers. In July, the department responded to 61 calls, and the program alerted 234 drivers who were within a quarter of a mile of actively responding fire department vehicles.
While the system is helpful to alert drivers, Crestwood Mayor Grant Mabie said the true value lies in protecting the city's first responders.
"The safety of our first responders is always of paramount importance to the city. As technology advances, we have purchased new upgraded bulletproof vests for our police officers, and new, more-advanced personal protective equipment for our firefighters, among other things," said Mabie. "When we learned of this system, it was something we wanted to pursue to make sure we were using the latest technology to keep our employees safe... We have noticed an uptick in distracted driving by drivers, in Crestwood and elsewhere, and a program like this can hopefully counteract distracted driving."
Since drivers don't have to activate anything to receive the alerts only use the Waze app or an existing dashboard navigation, the goal is to have more cities join this program. Currently, Safety Cloud is active in more than 100 cities.
"My hope is that other municipalities will see the value behind this and join with us to provide this," said Hecht. "You can't put a value on a firefighter's life or the amount of safety you take to prevent something disastrous from happening. If we can do anything to help increase their safety, we should be trying to do that. This is a very simple, low-cost thing that we can do to make sure that whenever our fire equipment is responding to emergencies or on the side of the road to a highway incident that we're getting messaging out to drivers to slow down."
The program does have the ability to work with other departments, for situations such as active work zones or waste removal. While currently only Crestwood's fire department uses the program, the city may consider expanding its use in the future.
"Based upon our positive experience with the system, we would recommend its use for other departments and entities doing road work on highways," said Mabie.
Tag(s): In The News
Other posts you might be interested in
October 4, 2018 | 4 min read
Firefighting Industry Conflicted on Vote Requiring Collision Prevention Technology for All Fire ApparatusRead More
In The News
October 14, 2022 | 2 min read
Three New Fire Engines For Laramie County Fire District #1Read More
In The News
February 8, 2023 | 2 min read