Local fire departments improving communication

Posted at 8:50 AM, Dec 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-23 08:50:19-05

When there's a fire in Delta Township, the Township's three stations and Lansing Township and Grand Ledge Fire are dispatched to the scene.

It's called automatic mutual aid.

"We run about 6,200 calls a year. With that, your ambulance is busy, your engines are busy and your availability of personnel is not what it used to be," Delta Township Fire Chief John Clark explained. "Utilizing those resources gives the public that same bang without having to pay the expense of trying to maintain all your own resources."

Saving you money, but with personnel from different stations, communication can be a challenge.

And with communication as the leading cause in a firefighter's line of duty death, something had to change.

"We had to try to align the language up, so that a firefighter from Lansing that was coming to the city of East Lansing or coming to Delta Township with mutual aid, would understand what lingo that incident commander was using," the Chief said.

For about three days every other month, the fire officers and command staff from the 6 metro departments take part in training through the Blue Card Command simulator.

"It runs you through the simulation from arriving initially on scene to basically to the end of fire. And, depending on where you're sitting and choices you make on the screen, it will send you in different directions," explained training EMS Captain Ken Van Hall.

He told FOX 47 the officer could be in Engine 1, 2 or 3, or in the ladder truck. And, each computer shows that view point.

"Everybody knows what job they're doing, how to do it and then how to relay that information over the radio," Captain Van Hall said.

And then, that's practiced in the field and utilized fighting actual fires.

So, each firefighter is prepared and efficient in their effort to keep you safe.

Captain Van Hall added that the fires they're fighting are hotter and there's more energy in rooms compared to decades past. So, the Blue Card simulator has also helped the departments look at how to approach putting the fire out.