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System gives quick 4-1-1 on a 9-1-1

Ben Godar

New computer terminals being installed in Burbank Fire Department

rigs will allow firefighters to access a wide array of information

right from the scene of a blaze.


Mobile-data terminals are being installed in 20 depart- ment

vehicles, including all front-line and reserve trucks, engines,

rescue ambulances and command vehicles, fire officials said. The

systems will not be installed in the department’s staff cars.


The new terminals, which officials said cost $4,800 per unit, are

being installed throughout the coming months, and officials hope to

have the computer system running sometime this summer.

The existing terminals in the fire vehicles consist of a four-inch

screen that transmit only small amounts of text from the dispatch

center, Battalion Chief Bill Sanders said. The new terminals look

similar to laptop computers and feature full-size keyboards and

12-inch screens.


The Microsoft Windows-based systems will allow units in the field

to download information from city and fire department servers.

Firefighters will be able to look at the floor plan and any

hazardous-material information for a particular building right from

the scene of a blaze.

“If we can retrieve that information in the field, it will make a

difference in our speed and efficiency,” Sanders said.

Firefighters will be able to run a variety of software programs on


the new terminals and do tasks like report-writing from their rigs.

The system can also be updated with new dispatch and communication


One upgrade fire officials are hoping to add is Global Positioning

System capabilities. That technology would allow dispatchers to

quickly locate and notify the closest units to a particular incident.

Currently, dispatchers assign companies based on the district an

incident occurs in, but sometimes a crew from another district might

actually be closer, officials said.

The new computer terminals are being installed in rescue vehicles

from all nine cities served by the Glendale-based Verdugo

Communications Center. In addition to Burbank, cities served by the

center include Glendale, Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia, San Gabriel,

San Marino, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena.