Fire, Rescue, and EMS

IAFC FRI 2023 Embraces Technology for Fire and EMS Services

Esri was proud to continue its support of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and Fire Rescue International (FRI) at this year’s 2023 conference, and we wanted to share the developments in technology that will help reshape the landscape of the fire service and emergency medical services (EMS).

Unveiling of Home Fire Fatalities & Social Vulnerability Explorer

One of the most significant moments at IAFC FRI 2023 was the unveiling of the United States Fire Administration’s (USFA) Home Fire Fatalities & Social Vulnerability Explorer by US Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell. This innovative platform represents a giant leap forward in our ability to understand and address fire-related fatalities. The Home Fire Fatalities & Social Vulnerability Explorer serves as a comprehensive repository of data and resources empowering us with insights into fire incidents across the nation.

With access to this platform, fire departments and emergency responders gain valuable tools to analyze trends, identify risk factors, and enhance risk-reduction strategies. It’s a game changer for improving public safety and reducing the tragic number of fire-related fatalities.

Fire Data Analyst Working Group

Another highlight of the event was the preconference meeting of the Fire Data Analyst Working Group (FDAWG). This marks a significant step forward, as this working group has now been formalized under IAFC and will be focusing on leveraging data standards within the fire service and EMS. This gathering brought together experts and professionals dedicated to harnessing the power of data for the betterment of our communities. In an era in which data is king, this working group is on the forefront of transforming information into actionable intelligence. Please consider joining the group to promote the use of data in the fire service.

A highlight of the preconference meeting was a presentation—given by Underwriter Laboratories’ Craig Weinschenk and USFA’s Richard Sexton—on the National Emergency Reporting Information System (NERIS). It is clear that this new data collection and analysis application will change the way we, as fire and EMS professionals, leverage data for decision-making.

Other discussions revolved around the latest advancements in data analytics, predictive modeling, and information sharing. The insights generated by this group are invaluable in making informed decisions, optimizing resource allocation, and enhancing our emergency response capabilities.

IAFC’s Wildfire Evacuation Planning Toolkit

As we confront the growing challenges of wildland fires, the IAFC and the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS (NAPSG) have jointly developed a free online tool that will greatly simplify evacuation planning. The Wildfire Evacuation Planning Toolkit is a testament to the association’s dedication to leveraging technology for disaster preparedness. This sophisticated planning toolkit was developed by the Wildland Fire Policy Committee (WFPC), and the presentation was led by Chief Mark Novak, MPA, CFO of Vail Fire and Emergency Services.

The Wildfire Evacuation Planning Toolkit enables fire departments and emergency management agencies to create, simulate, and refine evacuation plans. By factoring in dynamic variables like weather conditions, traffic patterns, and population density, responders can develop evacuation strategies that not only are efficient but also save lives.

In conclusion, IAFC FRI 2023 was a remarkable showcase of how technology is revolutionizing fire services and EMS. With USFA’s Home Fire Fatalities & Social Vulnerability Explorer, the dedication of the Fire Data Analyst Working Group, and the IAFC’s Wildfire Evacuation Planning Toolkit, we are better equipped than ever to protect our communities and respond to emergencies with precision and efficiency. These technological advancements reinforce the vital role of data and innovation in our mission to ensure public safety. As fire service professionals, it is our duty to embrace these tools and lead our departments into a brighter, safer future.

If you have any questions on how GIS technology supports the fire service, please contact Mike Cox, Director of Fire Rescue EMS Solutions or Anthony Schultz, Director of Wildland Fire Solutions.

About the authors

Mike Cox is the Director of Fire and EMS Solutions at Esri, where he advocates for geospatial technology in public safety and works collaboratively with GIS professionals to promote the broad use of Esri’s ArcGIS platform within fire and EMS. He has 27 years of experience in the Henrico County Fire Department and served on the Central Virginia All Hazard Incident Management Team.

Anthony Schultz is the Director of Wildland Fire Solutions at Esri. He has a background in wildland fire management and operations, having served in a variety of capacities, most recently as the Fire Management Officer (FMO) for the State of Wyoming. During his tenure in Wyoming, he served as chair of the Western State Fire Managers and was a Rocky Mountain Coordinating Group member. He has also served as an FMO with the State of North Dakota. Prior to becoming an FMO, he worked as a wildland firefighter the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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