Before First Due, how were you able to pre-plan commercial occupancies? How were you able to prioritize information on those commercial structures during an emergency scenario?
Before First Due, our crews used tactical drawings which were hand drawn. These became inefficient and became more and more outdated each and every day. When a call came in, the crews had to get out a book, reference the address, and look for any structural details we had previously written in there, while the truck is responding down the street on its way to the call. As you can imagine, that was not efficient, so after that we ended up using a box book that had the fire alarm boxes in it. On the backside of the fire alarm box, there were multiple pages that had the tactical maps and drawings in there, so we would look through that information when a call came through. Most of the information we had was on apartment complexes. We had some bigger buildings like the Great Wolf Lodge and the Gaylord Texan Resort, but for things like strip shopping centers or other complex structures around town, the tactical maps in the box book just weren't efficient.
How have you began the process of Pre-planning Commercial Occupancies with First Due?
Since we had all these detailed tactical maps already made that we can make good use out of on most calls, I have had the crews start to go through and scan all of the tactical maps into First Due and drop them on their specific locations, so now we have those available on top of our First Due pre-plan for when those calls come through. For places like the Great Wolf Lodge, we are in the process of completing detailed pre-plans in First Due, and once those are officially complete they will be incredibly useful. We had an active shooter incident there a while back and our tactical map helped, but once medical calls started coming in from people getting worried and trying to evacuate, it was hard to isolate the room the supposed shooter was in from the rooms the medical calls were coming from. If something like this happens again, with First Due we will be able to use the layering tool to isolate room locations, separate floors, and efficiently scan the entire premise of these massive structures. Pre-plans are great for every structure, but on a residential property I'm able walk around and quickly survey the entire home, whereas on overly populated hotel grounds, it's not possible to walk around and survey the entire scene. By having First Due, we are able to bridge this gap between the wealth of information we have collected over time, and combine the tactical maps, the processes, and the procedures altogether, to create an efficient and functional operation.
Has First Due been helpful in executing Pre-plans for Industrial Properties and other potentially sensitive target hazards?
Oh yes, absolutely. We have a huge pipeline distribution center that borders Grapevine but is technically in another city. Since we're right on the border and the street that runs in front of the distribution center is in the Grapevine boundary, we always get the call first. We've added a wealth of information into that pre-plan so that it's available to anyone responding now. Things like where do you activate and shut off the foam system? How much material does each tank or structure contain? Or for a specific product, how many gallons does each tank in the tank farm hold? So that when the call does come through, we are now able to identify the specifics about each tank and the associated piping that is associated with each tank, know the layout of the retention areas ,what material is inside of it and how hazardous it is, so we can plan our approach ahead of time. We know now if we should immediately go to a different street, or what additional resources we absolutely need to safely respond.
Distribution centers, hotels, along with huge warehouses, are our biggest target hazards, so we have been pre-planning them the same way we do strip shopping centers. Each of those warehouses will hold different companies, so the warehouse can be subdivided into several different sections, and with First Due, we can pre-plan to show where each occupancy is located, the hazards for each occupancy, and emergency contacts for each occupancy, so when a call comes through we know the specifics, rather than just knowing the address.
How has First Due helped Grapevine as far as residential pre-planning and response?
Being able to pre-plan residential neighborhoods and areas with First Due gives us a very solid starting point. It provides us with the baseline information we need, and allows us to be extremely prepared for any situation in the community. When we first started using First Due, I had no idea how helpful Community Connect would be for us as far as being able to supplement the baseline pre-plans with information directly from the resident. Having a community engagement platform built into the software we use everyday has given us a great way to connect with our community and gain information from them that is not only important for us to know, but that we can seamlessly digest at the time of response, allowing us to prioritize whats most important in the situations where every second counts.
Working with the First Due Marketing Team has made the process of engaging our community very easy. Every month, I work with our Prevention Department to push one of the content updates First Due creates and provides to us on our Grapevine Fire Department website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. As I thought it would be a possibility, Community Connect had a slightly slow start in Grapevine, but once we started consistently pushing out the content First Due provided us, we were gaining sign-ups daily. It's phenomenal how quickly the program has grown. We get calls all the time from people in our community who want to make sure we know their situation in case we are ever called to their home. They call with things like where medication is located, information on mobility issues for people who would need extra assistance in evacuating, where bedrooms of small children or grandchildren are located, and other details specific to their home and family. It's so helpful being able to refer them to Community Connect where they can tell us everything, and then there it is, available to us the second we need it.
How do you see Grapevine Fire Department growing with First Due?
We have been focused in the immediate term on getting all of our pre-plans incorporated into First Due because we have been so excited about how those can help us, that I haven't been able to keep up with how fast First Due has been able to release the rest of their software suite. As far as I'm concerned, even with the hundreds of Community Connect sign-ups we we get each and every month, we are just at the beginning of getting our residents involved. I am looking forward to seeing this program grow and for our community to see the value of us working together on Community Risk Reduction.
As we continue to grow, especially with how much we have achieved already with our pre-plans, knowing how much more First Due can offer us in other parts of our operation is really exciting with us moving forward. I know there is so much more for us to learn about the First Due suite, so I am looking forward to seeing what other areas of our operation can get on board.