Beyond fire hydrant location: what firefighters need to know


James Duggan 30min

Tacoma Fire Department
This talk was transcribed.

Readily available geodata about certain hazards would be of great benefit to firefighters. OpenStreetMap presents an opportunity to make this information available, which has been slow to be produced by traditional means.

Firefighters arriving at emergencies must first quickly size-up a scene before taking action. One of the purposes of this assessment is to identify hazards that might be present immediately outside or nearby a burning building—hazards that could pose a risk to firefighters or significantly worsen the emergency if the fire were to spread. For example, stationary propane tanks that could be exposed to flames are a particular concern to firefighters, given that these pressurized vessels can rupture and explode if not cooled with a hose stream. Other information such as the existence and location of gas meters or overhead electrical wires inform the critical decisions firefighters need to make early on.

Although firefighters are aware of the most noteworthy hazards in the district their station serves, such hazards might not be known to firefighters responding to an emergency from another station, which happens when the firefighters at the closer station are already committed elsewhere when a second emergency occurs in their district.