Bay Area software hailed as ‘revolutionary’ firefighting tool now in place across Sonoma County

Maria J. Smith

All through the lethal 2017 North Bay firestorm, Sonoma County hearth officials have been overcome with the chaotic convert of events and did their best to regulate resources, thumbing via paper maps and trying to converse by way of fast paced radio visitors whilst holding tabs on the whereabouts of their crews.

At occasions, first responders felt “pretty helpless,” claimed Chad Costa, assistant fire main for the Petaluma Fire Section.

The siege of catastrophic wildfires has ongoing just about unabated considering the fact that then, and Sonoma County fire captains speedily realized they necessary to up their technological match, Costa explained.

In 2020, Costa and Spencer Andreis, battalion main at Sonoma Valley Fireplace District, arrived throughout Tablet Command, an incident management and response computer software software established by Bay Space-based firefighters. It is the form of all-in-a single communications, mapping and dispatch device they were being hunting for.

In 2021, Costa and Andreis spearheaded a challenge aimed at introducing the program among the all Sonoma County fireplace departments.

The software, now utilised by most fire apparatus in the county, has improved the recreation, Costa explained.

Hearth officials are now equipped to see exactly where their staff are on a map, assign sources, converse, see incident spots and 911 dispatch info, assign crews, upload evacuation and temperature briefings and much more ― all via the touch of an iPad monitor.

Software’s origins

In 2007, Pill Command founders William “Will” Pigeon and Andy Bozzo were comparatively new at the Contra Costa County Hearth Security District when tragedy struck.

Two firefighters in their division died on duty, making an attempt to rescue two folks from a residence hearth. A yearlong internal investigation observed a mishandled preliminary report led to delays and miscommunication contributing to the firefighters’ deaths. It also shed light-weight on weaknesses in the department together with absence of coordination and reliance on facial area-to-experience interaction.

Bozzo and Pigeon, who experienced some college practical experience in computer system science, began imagining how they could strengthen area interaction in their department.

Sitting down on the couch with Pigeon, taking part in Text With Friends, a multiplayer term match app, Bozzo dragged a “W” throughout the board. That is when he had an epiphany.

The idea of positioning a letter on the board, instantaneously observed by a random participant countless numbers of miles away in Texas, could easily be transferred to the assignment of a hearth engine and the details could stand for the range of staff assigned to that engine.

“So he experienced this epiphany like, ‘Oh my gosh, yeah, why won’t be able to we do that?’” Pigeon stated.

The two arrived alongside one another and started sketching the strategy out on napkins and whiteboards, brainstorming and raising funds for at least a yr. They introduced the application in January 2013.


Virtually 10 several years on now, Pill Command has in excess of 18,000 EMS and firefighter “users” during North The usa, Pigeon explained, referring to person officials and engines. Above 200 of these units are in Sonoma County, 125 of which are mounted in engines like the Santa Rosa Fireplace Department.

Their workforce of 17 staffers at Pill Command is constantly tweaking the app, Pigeon mentioned.

It now often notifies firefighters of incidents more quickly than the station does, he stated. It also lets firefighters to conveniently check out WildfireAlert cameras, function offline and identify strike teams throughout various agencies in the point out.

For instance, “fire chiefs came again from (the Caldor and Dixie) fires very last calendar year and they ended up saying that it’s just innovative, it truly is like electric power,” Pigeon claimed.

In Sonoma County, the application has authorized agencies to add individualized map levels such as evacuation zones, fireplace scars, prepared strategies of attack and basic safety regions,

Recalling the 2017 firestorm, Costa mentioned, “There’s a ton of helpless moments, exactly where it just felt like there was nothing you could do.”

“So we’re focused to creating ourselves improved, and our departments far better and at times, primarily in modern planet, that’s making use of all those engineering tools that are out there.”

Tablet Command has been a “great addition to our situational recognition, our accountability and our capability to be ready alternatively of reactionary,” he included.

You can attain Staff members Author Alana Minkler at 707-526-8511 or [email protected] On Twitter @alana_minkler.

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