City of Fairfax Fire Department

Achieving Northern Virginia's Interagency Vision with First Due

Get in touch...

Schedule a Demo

Andrew Vita

Assistant Chief of Operations

Location

Fairfax, VA

Response Area Population

23,000 People

Personnel

85 Professional Firefighters

Location

Fairfax, VA

Response Area Population

23,000 People

Personnel

85 Professional Firefighters

Q&A

The Interoperability Vision in Northern Virginia

First Due

Let's start by learning more about the vision across Northern Virginia to share information. How did this come about and where was the project before First Due?

Chief Vita

We had a few incidents back in the 1980s. 1982 has both the Air Florida crash as well as a Metro Train derailment and it was clear we needed a better way to communicate between agencies for major catastrophes and later on many types of incidents. The goal was to be able to work together across jurisdictions and share our resources to do what's best for the community. At first this meant a common numbering system, which came up during these major events, where for example you would have five engine ones. Our communication was okay, what we were not doing was "coordinating". We needed to coordinate the naming and numbering of resources to prevent confusion.

Then came AVL. AVL worked in those jurisdictions who had AVL, but as of today we are still working on CAD to CAD which allows PSAP to communicate in real time, and is making things cleaner and smoother. But even real time has its challenges. We had all been sharing resources for a very long time, but we weren't sharing information on each others structures seamlessly through our computers.

Before First Due

First Due

How did this effect sharing pre-incident plans containing critical data on structures?

Chief Vita

We were all doing pre-incident plans the traditional way. I'd make a copy of it and then I would have to deliver it to all the surrounding jurisdictions that might respond into my area. As soon as I printed that pre-plan, it was outdated because something would change and nobody would go back and update it. Sometimes we would give it to someone at a fire station and it wouldn't get put into the three ring binder, or it would get torn out of a three ring binder on the way to a call and not get put back in the right spot.

Because of events like 9/11, our jurisdictions became closer. On 9/11, units responded to areas they had not been responding to prior. That day highlighted the need to ensure "all available" data/pre-incident plans should be available to all NOVA apparatus because we could always end up in a new area. Paper made it impossible to share and store all this information. With iPad's and Dropbox it was getting easier, but not as good as it could get. You had companies responding to calls that they weren't normally responding to. Urban engine companies now needed rural water supply plans because they were responding to incidents at high rise buildings with FDC's and standpipes.

We had these three ring binders, bolted down to the dash on the dog-house of the firetruck with plans that needed replacing on a daily basis. Later we started passing thumb drives around, but time moves forward and even those weren't accurate.

We had these three ring binders, you know, bolted down to the dash, to the dog-house of the firetruck with plans that needed replacing on a daily basis.

With First Due

First Due

So how has First Due changed things?

Chief Vita

Well, now you're getting 14 Fire Departments and their pre-incident planning POC/experts all putting information in the same place to be used the same way - information that's always current and always accurate. Through First Due, our regional partners are able to get across what's most important and what's going to be the best for our personnel responding to a call in their response area and we can see the same for them.

Plenty of departments had something like 14 and 20 page pre-plans. Pictures, tell a thousand words - we can scan alert tiles and icons on maps to rapidly understand what's going on with any structure a whole lot faster than reading. We have actionable data on any scenario in each others response areas.

On the Line

First Due

While en-route to a call, how are your crews working in First Due?

Chief Vita

They start looking at buildings and icons. They start reading the information. They start tapping local live cameras. The officer can listen to the radio, the driver can get you there but now you have four sets of eyes, working on this and four brains trying to assess or analyze a problem and begin to make informed tactical decisions before arriving on scene- which makes everybody a whole lot safer. And that's all great to hear.

Now you have four sets of eyes, working on this and four brains trying to fix a problem before you arrive.

Now you have four sets of eyes, working on this and four brains trying to fix a problem before you arrive.

The Value of Pre-Planning

First Due

How has this changed the attitude towards the value of Pre-Planning across Northern Virginia?

Chief Vita

There was a lot of excitement about being able to go out and start doing pre-plans. Even those company officers who have been here for 20, 25 years, who after a while, they know their buildings fairly well, get the value of sharing that with others. That's the big thing that I was hoping for, there's been a change in the whole attitude across pre-plans and the value is then recognized because we've come to expect quality information in First Due at the time of response.

There's been a change in the whole attitude across pre-plans and the value is recognized, and the results show with the type of data we are using during response.

There's been a change in the whole attitude across pre-plans and the value is recognized, and the results show with the type of data we are using during response.

City of Fairfax Fire Department

Achieving Northern Virginia's Interagency Vision with First Due

Get in touch...

Schedule a Demo

Andrew Vita

Assistant Chief of Operations

Location

Fairfax, VA

Response Area Population

23,000 People

Personnel

85 Professional Firefighters

Q&A

The Interoperability Vision in Northern Virginia

First Due

Let's start by learning more about the vision across Northern Virginia to share information. How did this come about and where was the project before First Due?

Chief Vita

We had a few incidents back in the 1980s. 1982 has both the Air Florida crash as well as a Metro Train derailment and it was clear we needed a better way to communicate between agencies for major catastrophes and later on many types of incidents. The goal was to be able to work together across jurisdictions and share our resources to do what's best for the community. At first this meant a common numbering system, which came up during these major events, where for example you would have five engine ones. Our communication was okay, what we were not doing was "coordinating". We needed to coordinate the naming and numbering of resources to prevent confusion.

Then came AVL. AVL worked in those jurisdictions who had AVL, but as of today we are still working on CAD to CAD which allows PSAP to communicate in real time, and is making things cleaner and smoother. But even real time has its challenges. We had all been sharing resources for a very long time, but we weren't sharing information on each others structures seamlessly through our computers.

Before First Due

First Due

How did this effect sharing pre-incident plans containing critical data on structures?

Chief Vita

We were all doing pre-incident plans the traditional way. I'd make a copy of it and then I would have to deliver it to all the surrounding jurisdictions that might respond into my area. As soon as I printed that pre-plan, it was outdated because something would change and nobody would go back and update it. Sometimes we would give it to someone at a fire station and it wouldn't get put into the three ring binder, or it would get torn out of a three ring binder on the way to a call and not get put back in the right spot.

Because of events like 9/11, our jurisdictions became closer. On 9/11, units responded to areas they had not been responding to prior. That day highlighted the need to ensure "all available" data/pre-incident plans should be available to all NOVA apparatus because we could always end up in a new area. Paper made it impossible to share and store all this information. With iPad's and Dropbox it was getting easier, but not as good as it could get. You had companies responding to calls that they weren't normally responding to. Urban engine companies now needed rural water supply plans because they were responding to incidents at high rise buildings with FDC's and standpipes.

We had these three ring binders, bolted down to the dash on the dog-house of the firetruck with plans that needed replacing on a daily basis. Later we started passing thumb drives around, but time moves forward and even those weren't accurate.

We had these three ring binders, you know, bolted down to the dash, to the dog-house of the firetruck with plans that needed replacing on a daily basis.

With First Due

First Due

So how has First Due changed things?

Chief Vita

Well, now you're getting 14 Fire Departments and their pre-incident planning POC/experts all putting information in the same place to be used the same way - information that's always current and always accurate. Through First Due, our regional partners are able to get across what's most important and what's going to be the best for our personnel responding to a call in their response area and we can see the same for them.

Plenty of departments had something like 14 and 20 page pre-plans. Pictures, tell a thousand words - we can scan alert tiles and icons on maps to rapidly understand what's going on with any structure a whole lot faster than reading. We have actionable data on any scenario in each others response areas.

On the Line

First Due

While en-route to a call, how are your crews working in First Due?

Chief Vita

They start looking at buildings and icons. They start reading the information. They start tapping local live cameras. The officer can listen to the radio, the driver can get you there but now you have four sets of eyes, working on this and four brains trying to assess or analyze a problem and begin to make informed tactical decisions before arriving on scene- which makes everybody a whole lot safer. And that's all great to hear.

Now you have four sets of eyes, working on this and four brains trying to fix a problem before you arrive.

Now you have four sets of eyes, working on this and four brains trying to fix a problem before you arrive.

The Value of Pre-Planning

First Due

How has this changed the attitude towards the value of Pre-Planning across Northern Virginia?

Chief Vita

There was a lot of excitement about being able to go out and start doing pre-plans. Even those company officers who have been here for 20, 25 years, who after a while, they know their buildings fairly well, get the value of sharing that with others. That's the big thing that I was hoping for, there's been a change in the whole attitude across pre-plans and the value is then recognized because we've come to expect quality information in First Due at the time of response.

There's been a change in the whole attitude across pre-plans and the value is recognized, and the results show with the type of data we are using during response.

There's been a change in the whole attitude across pre-plans and the value is recognized, and the results show with the type of data we are using during response.

City of Fairfax Fire Department

Achieving Northern Virginia's Interagency Vision with First Due

Get in touch...

Schedule a Demo

Q&A

The Interoperability Vision in Northern Virginia

First Due

Let's start by learning more about the vision across Northern Virginia to share information. How did this come about and where was the project before First Due?

Chief Vita

We had a few incidents back in the 1980s. 1982 has both the Air Florida crash as well as a Metro Train derailment and it was clear we needed a better way to communicate between agencies for major catastrophes and later on many types of incidents. The goal was to be able to work together across jurisdictions and share our resources to do what's best for the community. At first this meant a common numbering system, which came up during these major events, where for example you would have five engine ones. Our communication was okay, what we were not doing was "coordinating". We needed to coordinate the naming and numbering of resources to prevent confusion.

Then came AVL. AVL worked in those jurisdictions who had AVL, but as of today we are still working on CAD to CAD which allows PSAP to communicate in real time, and is making things cleaner and smoother. But even real time has its challenges. We had all been sharing resources for a very long time, but we weren't sharing information on each others structures seamlessly through our computers.

Before First Due

First Due

How did this effect sharing pre-incident plans containing critical data on structures?

Chief Vita

We were all doing pre-incident plans the traditional way. I'd make a copy of it and then I would have to deliver it to all the surrounding jurisdictions that might respond into my area. As soon as I printed that pre-plan, it was outdated because something would change and nobody would go back and update it. Sometimes we would give it to someone at a fire station and it wouldn't get put into the three ring binder, or it would get torn out of a three ring binder on the way to a call and not get put back in the right spot.

Because of events like 9/11, our jurisdictions became closer. On 9/11, units responded to areas they had not been responding to prior. That day highlighted the need to ensure "all available" data/pre-incident plans should be available to all NOVA apparatus because we could always end up in a new area. Paper made it impossible to share and store all this information. With iPad's and Dropbox it was getting easier, but not as good as it could get. You had companies responding to calls that they weren't normally responding to. Urban engine companies now needed rural water supply plans because they were responding to incidents at high rise buildings with FDC's and standpipes.

We had these three ring binders, bolted down to the dash on the dog-house of the firetruck with plans that needed replacing on a daily basis. Later we started passing thumb drives around, but time moves forward and even those weren't accurate.

We had these three ring binders, you know, bolted down to the dash, to the dog-house of the firetruck with plans that needed replacing on a daily basis.

We had these three ring binders, you know, bolted down to the dash, to the dog-house of the firetruck with plans that needed replacing on a daily basis.

With First Due

First Due

So how has First Due changed things?

Chief Vita

Well, now you're getting 14 Fire Departments and their pre-incident planning POC/experts all putting information in the same place to be used the same way - information that's always current and always accurate. Through First Due, our regional partners are able to get across what's most important and what's going to be the best for our personnel responding to a call in their response area and we can see the same for them.

Plenty of departments had something like 14 and 20 page pre-plans. Pictures, tell a thousand words - we can scan alert tiles and icons on maps to rapidly understand what's going on with any structure a whole lot faster than reading. We have actionable data on any scenario in each others response areas.

On the Line

First Due

While en-route to a call, how are your crews working in First Due?

Chief Vita

They start looking at buildings and icons. They start reading the information. They start tapping local live cameras. The officer can listen to the radio, the driver can get you there but now you have four sets of eyes, working on this and four brains trying to assess or analyze a problem and begin to make informed tactical decisions before arriving on scene- which makes everybody a whole lot safer. And that's all great to hear.

Now you have four sets of eyes, working on this and four brains trying to fix a problem before you arrive.

Now you have four sets of eyes, working on this and four brains trying to fix a problem before you arrive.

The Value of Pre-Planning

First Due

How has this changed the attitude towards the value of Pre-Planning across Northern Virginia?

Chief Vita

There was a lot of excitement about being able to go out and start doing pre-plans. Even those company officers who have been here for 20, 25 years, who after a while, they know their buildings fairly well, get the value of sharing that with others. That's the big thing that I was hoping for, there's been a change in the whole attitude across pre-plans and the value is then recognized because we've come to expect quality information in First Due at the time of response.

There's been a change in the whole attitude across pre-plans and the value is recognized, and the results show with the type of data we are using during response.

There's been a change in the whole attitude across pre-plans and the value is recognized, and the results show with the type of data we are using during response.