Dispatching With Microfiche

Dispatching With Microfiche

The Tempe, Ariz., Fire Department has made a remarkable improvement over standard methods of dispatching fire equipment to the scene of an emergency. This change has been brought about through the use of microfiche. Microfiche is the placing of a series of micro-images in a selected pattern for instant use.

Tempe grew from 25,000 population in 1960 to 65,000 in 1970. This growth has resulted in large subdivisions, new streets, and new firemen. Such a combination can create many problems in locating the scene of an emergency.

To help keep abreast of the growth, the first action taken was to divide the city into 1-mile sections, number the sections, and place them in a map book put on every piece of mobile equipment. Each book has an index.

To aid dispatching, all streets were placed alphabetically in a Rollex file. The street name is listed first, then the block number, followed by the map section number, and then the responding apparatus. This system worked fine except when a new fireman was learning dispatching duties. The new man would naturally be all thumbs hurrying to locate a street.

Microfiche considered

Research was then started to speed the process and lessen the possibility of errors. It was during this period that microfiche entered the picture.

The basic work had been done for the use of microfiche, i.e., dividing the city into sections and listing the streets alphabetically as they appeared in the various sections. This information, together with the map sections, was then transferred to regular size paper for film reduction. All this information then had to be placed in an understandable grid pattern. After being reduced in size with microfilm cameras, the resulting film strips were then placed in a single microfiche jacket, 5 X 8 inches, with room left for expansion.

Now, in the event of a fire, the dispatcher simply turns to the microfiche viewer and places a pointer on the first letter of the alphabet for the street’s name. Immediately, there appears on an 11 X 13-inch screen all the information required for him to dispatch the proper station and apparatus to the right location. He then moves the pointer to the map number, and can answer any questions for the responding equipment. This additional information includes whether the building is sprinklered, as this information is included on the maps.

Adding information

To update the information as new subdivisions are developed is simply a matter of adding the information to the master sheets, and following with film reduction.

The Tempe Fire Department plans to continue research in the use of microfiche and eventually have portable viewers on each apparatus. These viewers will also contain floor plans and pre-fire plans of important buildings in the area covered by each engine company. This will facilitate rescue and assist in fire fighting methods.

The systems are reasonably priced, and the potential use is unlimited. Microfilming and microfiche have been used in many areas, but this is a new use to improve performance in the fire service, and do a more efficient job for the taxpayer. The Tempe Fire Department has been working with A.M.K. Microfilming of Phoenix in the development of the system.

Dispatcher manipulates pointer on microfiche viewer to select alarm assignment. Chief Hanna checks him out.

Photo by Tony Lesce, Tempe Daily News.

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