Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

April 5, 2013

Jacksonville's Bravest: New monitoring system syncs firefighter gear with central computer – a life-saving arrangement

JACKSONVILLE — While firefighting has always been part of the good fight, it historically has been a perilous proposition in terms of technology. Much of the equipment involved in saving lives also posed potential danger to firefighters such as Jack-sonville's Bravest.

Problematic equipment included those heavy, heavy, oxygen bottles. Masks that constantly fogged up. No clear indication of oxygen levels when fighting fires. Difficulty being heard when issuing “maydays” for help. Really, not that much time has passed since the outmoded firefighter gear of yesteryear was commonplace.

But these days, more and more new and innovative technologies are coming into play and saving the lives of firefighters.

There is, for instance, the Personal Account-ability Safety System, otherwise known as “P.A.S.S.,” currently is in use by Jacksonville.

“You really need a system like this to fight fires, because it helps keep track of everyone at a fire scene,” explained Jacksonville Fire Chief Paul White.

Under P.A.S.S., firefighters now carry equipment containing sensors linked to and monitored by an outside computer mounted in the fire chief's or fire marshal's vehicle.

This allows officials, for example, to determine exactly how much air they have left to breathe in a 30-minute supply.

If a firefighter goes still for a couple of seconds but is wearing a mask with air still flowing, a special alarm sounds.

“If someone falls motionless during a fire, it will start chirping until he moves,” said Jackson-ville Firefighter Joseph Nix, who has been with the department eight years.

“It also has an emergency button that will bring any crisis up up on the chief's screen.”

If this situation turns out to be a false alarm, a Jacksonville firefighter can easily deactivate it with a touch, officials said.

White said his department received access to the P.A.S.S. technology through an unspecified grant awhile back. But it was only a few weeks ago he was able to link a computer laptop with the gear and equipment worn by the city's 29 firefighters.

“This really, really helps us keep track of everyone,” the chief said. “It's a great system.”

Although the department has not yet been able to truly test the equipment through a – pardon the expression – “trial by fire,” officials are confident  the state-of-the-art computer ac-countability system won't fail them.

Additionally: Former “mouth-to-ear” communications by firefighters during blazes are largely a thing of the past now. This new technology enhances voices at any level and relays sound from helmet to helmet from a range of at least 15 feet.

Of special importance is the system's “mayday” function, which through the computer can immediately identify a person in trouble. This allows superiors to immediately issue the commands necessary for a rescue without having to engage in confusing and contradictory intercom conversations.

When starting their shift, each firefighter swipes their specified air pack with this device. Much like a grocery store scanner tag, this function immediately logs all their information onto the air pack, allowing the synced computer to track each individual’s air supply.

“You scan it one time in the morning and your air pack has your name for the rest of your shift,” Nix said.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • RuskProtestMain.tif Rusk protest highlights views concerning border issues

    Several Texans gathered Saturday in Rusk -- not only to protest the recent federally-sponsored flood of illegal immigrants into the U.S., but to demand state officials to do something about it.
    Nearly 20 concerned citizens gathered at the intersection of U.S. highways 69 and 84 Saturday afternoon, waving flags and hand-lettered signs asking for secure borders and better action on the matter.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • RISD board mulls $16M budget

    Local school board members are considering a $16,671,955 proposed general fund budget for Rusk ISD's upcoming fiscal year – which begins Sept. 1 – but are nowhere near close to adopting the budget, said Lesa Jones, assistant district superintendent for finance and operation.

    July 22, 2014

  • National Night Out to return to Jacksonville

    National Night Out ( NNO) festivities will be returning  to Jacksonville this year.
    Jacksonville Police Crime Prevention Officer Detective Tonya Harris said all Jacksonville residents are encouraged to participate this year by sponsoring or attending a National Night Out party on Oct. 7.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tina_Baggett.tif Gallatin resident seeks help with expenses after diagnosis

    A Gallatin woman and longtime employee at Prosperity Bank is about to undergo the first stage of procedures for stem cell harvesting.
    Tina Baggett, 51, became unable to work in February due to complications from multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bullard group rallies behind alcohol petition

    A petition calling for a city-wide city election this November that would make all areas of Bullard wet, including those which fall in Cherokee County, has proven successful, as more than the required 221 signatures have been collected.

    July 19, 2014

  • mom and kids_6776.tif Jacksonville woman celebrates 100th birthday surrounded by family, friends

    Ethel Terry, a lifelong resident of Jacksonville, celebrated her 100th birthday with an open house on July 15 at the Twin Oaks Care Facility in Jacksonville.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cemetery grass.tif Extra rainfall produces more abundant lawns, extends hay season

    Steady periods of rain this summer have been a homeowner's dream, as lawns appear more lush than in previous years.
    But for city workers, that same growth has taken on nightmarish proportions.
    “It's a maintenance nightmare,” said Ben Briley, director of the City of Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cherokee County arrests: July 8-14

    The Daily Progress will publish a list of arrests from the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office on a weekly basis.

    July 19, 2014

  • Detective recovers nearly $7K in case

    When a Jacksonville woman became a victim of a scam, Jacksonville Police Detective Greg Compton stopped at nothing to solve the case.
    In early January, Compton said a neighbor of a 94-year-old woman reported that someone had “taken advantage of her.”

    July 17, 2014

  • Bullard ISD names interim leader

    During a meeting Monday night, the Bullard ISD Board of Trustees appointed Joe Dan Lee as Interim Superintendent.

    July 17, 2014