Saturday, September 29, 2012

Long Driveway Solutions - Tools

Our first discussion about Long Driveway Solutions was a basic overview of the program. Gaining permission from the property owner, for sign placement, is a critical step in the program. Without this we can still establish a water supply, however our efficiency greatly decreases. A tool that is starting to be more common on apparatus is the Global Positioning Sensor. With a few taps on the screen your GPS can aid your long supply line evolution when LDW signage doesn't exist.

Technology has made it's way into the Fire Service just as it has in every other industry. Computer Aided Dispatch has increased our ability to arrive at the right location, in a timely manner and without taking up radio wave space asking for "crosses". Many departments have laptop computers in their apparatus to allow the "Right Seat" to see a map of the crews destination. This not only serves our customers but provides the extra layer of safety by allowing the driver to concentrate on driving. For those who cannot afford this type of system, a GPS unit is a great option. The GPS uses satellites to pinpoint your location anywhere that a line of sight is present. Dense trees or being in-doors decreases the signal and your location may not display.

How can the GPS help us during an operation that includes a Long Driveway? Many GPS units have "trip data". Depending on your device this can be brought up by simply tapping an option or two. This screen has various types of data including a trip distance box.

When you arrive to the entrance of a suspected long driveway that is not participating in your Long Driveway program, have the Driver stop in the driveway for a brief moment. Enter this trip data screen and reset the counter. Now you may proceed to your destination. Make note of every 1/10 of a mile. One-tenth = just over 500 feet. The engines in my area carry 1000ft of LDH and should be able to make a 2/10 mile lay. One point that should be made here, when performing this long lay blind, the first due engine may not drop line at all. Information regarding the driveways length is obtained and your second, third and fourth due will be setting up water supply.

Another option, depending on your response type, is the use of markers. While calculating your length on the way to the hazard area, drop cones or other visible objects at certain benchmarks. This could be every 500 or 1000 feet. As the next in engines arrive these markers will act just like the signage used in the program. 900 feet is the set point for our signage, however the calculation for 500/1000 is much simpler to perform under pressure.

Since the first days of the fire service our mission has been to solve problems. Having a Long Driveway Program is a great way to ensure quality service is given to all residents. Whether their construction design or location of property gives us issues, it is our duty to overcome them. Many of our customers that chose a setback that is not conducive to our operation, do so not to make our job harder but to have privacy. They also may desire not to have signage along their property. Using the trip counter on a GPS unit allows us to gain critical information about these Long Driveway Problems and turn them into Long Driveway Solutions.

(Make sure to review the operating manual for your GPS unit before use. Never operate the GPS while driving.)

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