Computer Vehicle to Keep Tabs on Men, Fire, Weather
A new fire communications and status-keeping vehicle, COMSTAT, has been put into service by the California Office of Emergency Services (OES). The unit was developed jointly by OES and the U. S. Forest Service’s Firescope program. R. G. Barrows, chief of the OES fire and rescue division, presented the unit to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Firescope is a cooperative research, development and application program established to improve interagency coordination, communication and resource allocation in multiple fire situations in southern California.
COMSTAT utilizes much of the new technology Firescope research recommends. Its equipment will be tested during the next two years. To accomplish its mission of aiding fire managers in tactical planning, COMSTAT will have an extensive radio communications system, infrared imagery equipment, a remote weather system, a minicomputer for status keeping and closed-circuit television.
The vehicle was built to OES specifications by Revcon Inc. of Fountain Valley, Calif. Its motor-home body and chassis is of all-aluminum monocoque aircraft-type construction. The vehicle is 26 X 7½ feet with a 185inch wheelbase. It is powered by a 455-cubic-inch engine, has front-wheel drive, is air-conditioned, and has a 65-kw generator. The 76-gallon fuel supply will permit long distance travel and extended operation.
COMSTAT will house the ground terminal for fire perimeter information telemetered from an aircraft. A Forest Service airplane with infrared equipment has been in use for three years, but has not had telemetry capability. Now, COMSTAT will make photographs almost immediately available to fire managers.
By next summer, COMSTAT will have a minicomputer programmed with knowledge of the location of every man and piece of equipment assigned to a fire. Five remote terminals, similar to those used by the airlines, will provide managers with this information.
Two portable weather recording stations will feed wind, temperature, and humidity information to the computer base, making the current weather situation available to COMSTAT and at the five terminals.
COMSTAT is the prototype for 10 additional units Firescope plans to put into operation by 1978.