The next time it is too crummy, hot, rainy, snowy, etc. to get out of your firehouses and into your streets looking at your buildings grab your laptop, tablet, etc. and search out the many different mapping and G.I.S. programs on the internet and also most likely available through your city or county real estate, auditor, property websites and "take a drive through town" While doing this one quiet day in the firehouse I found another great medium to help keep our members more informed and safer.
How can you do that while in your chair? well, while surfing the streets via one of these global mapping programs I discovered a few quick ideas that you can use to help for future events.
1-A great way to look at roofs, HVAC units, AND HOLES! Something that may not be readily apparent at 0300
2-Distances from hydrants, hose lays, etc. I read a great article on estimating hose stretches and while not as adequate and efficient as actually going to the building with a rope bag you can sit in your jammies and gauge depths of buildings on your Main Streets for example to determine hose length estimates, you can grab an estimate on an entire block of buildings in a few minutes with some of these programs such as Pictometry.
3-Construction- How many times have we uttered the saying, "these guys need to know their buildings" while NOT a replacement for actually getting your members out you can take a trip through your district via a mapping site and find tons of construction concerns.
4- Size Up Practice- Next time you watch a fire video that gives the location of the event, search the address or utilize a G.I.S. program to get views of the occupancy prior to the fire, this slows things down and you can look at the construction, hazards, etc. this makes for an EASY ten minute class!
Retired Chief John Salka has stated that if you can't find a drill to do or are bored and are looking for training ideas that he can come up with hundreds to keep you and your crews in the game, utilizing the hundreds of G.I.S. or mapping programs available can "fill your crew's toolbox" with lots of recon without ever leaving the station.
Below are a few examples:
Looking this building below which has been remodeled heavily over the years, the view from the street hides the fact that a once car dealership building was on this site and the bowstring truss repair garage is still part of this building housing a Salvation Army high occupancy building In the next example we show the ability of a mapping program called Pictometry to assist in estimating possible hose stretches and building depths great to utilize when sizing up your "Main Street" buildings
The next example shows using a G.I.S. type program was successful in finding a building without a ROOF in one section, a surprise now as been avoided!
Finally, an example of a size up trainer many programs can show multiple sides of a building prior to the fire especially if the building sits on a corner or is a commercial building.
Photo Courtesy of Google Earth Pro
Video of Fire