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Fire agencies eye high-tech help

Western Nevada County's firefighters may soon be able to find addresses and water sources right from their engines with the help of a computerized map system. The 49er Fire Protection District could be the first agency equipped with it.
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Western Nevada County’s firefighters could soon access all information needed to locate roads, properties, fire hydrants and sources of water from their engines, thanks to a new computerized mapping system.

Fire representatives say the system could shave response time – and save lives.

The system could be particularly useful to firefighters who travel outside their districts and often have to call back to get additional directions.



Consultant Brian Peasley developed the computer program over 21/2 years. He used data collected by volunteers who traveled throughout western Nevada County for more than two years.

Peasley was hired by the Nevada County Fire Agency, which represents all fire departments in western Nevada County.




Roy Lockhart, who coordinated collection of the data and got the Fastmap software program written and distributed, said the program has been at the headquarters of all western Nevada County’s 10 fire agencies since September.

Each agency has to purchase portable touch-screen computers to make the information accessible in fire engines and rescue vehicles.

The 49er Fire Protection District could be the first agency equipped with the portable computers.

Its board of directors will consider next month spending $14,465 to purchase three portable touch-screen computers and four docking stations, said Lockhart, vice chairman of the 49er district. Cheaper lap-top computers with keyboards are not designed for emergency vehicles, he said.

The system could be installed in a 49er fire engine and a rescue vehicle in January, said Lockhart, a retired systems engineer for Motorola Corp.

He said the 49er district could eventually purchase five additional computers. Eventually, Lockhart would like to see all emergency vehicles equipped with the computers.

“It’s actually user-friendly,” 49er fire engineer Bruce Niederberger said of the program Monday.

Peasley said it can be updated by firefighters, and the information is accessible by all fire districts. All 10 fire agencies are considering purchasing the touch-screen computers, he said.

On Thursday, the board of directors of Nevada County In November, Consolidated is expected to discuss the purchase of several portable computers.


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