New GPS system set to improve fire response time - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New GPS system set to improve fire response time

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Louisville, Ky. (WDRB) -- Firefighters will soon be at your door seconds earlier thanks to a GPS tracking system that will be in almost every truck in Jefferson County.

The Louisville Fire Department implemented the system months ago, and now the entire county is getting on board. Currently, first responders in Middletown are test-driving the new device. Middletown Chief Jeffrey Riddle is spearheading the rollout. "Right now we've ordered 45 of these units for the suburban fire districts," said Riddle.

The device is about the size of a wireless router, and acts as a GPS device and wireless hot spot. Riddle says, the unit will hopefully decrease response times: "We want to do what's best for the public and get the closest unit to the response that's available."

Riddle hopes to have the GPS system implemented at every Jefferson County suburban district by January.  Riddle said, "It's going to allow them to send the closest unit automatically, without having to know who's where." Which means, Riddle said, there may be cross service between districts. "If there is a run in Lyndon, and our unit is closer, you will get a Middletown unit [as opposed to a Lyndon unit.]"

In-truck computers allow fire fighters to see what dispatchers see back at MetroSafe dispatch. It will not only tell them where the other fire trucks are in their area, but where the nearest fire hydrant is, and give them directions.

It's a system that the Louisville Fire Department has been using for two months now. "It's been a positive experience, we're working on it, learning how to use it, and like anything new, getting used to a new system," says Captain Sal Melendez.

According to Riddle, each device costs about $900, plus a monthly data fee administered by the department's cell phone provider. The units are being bought within their current budget, using tax payer dollars.

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