Fight fire with…iPads?

NEWTON, NC – If you hear the wail of a fire engine and see one of Newton’s bravest tapping at the screen of an iPad inside, take comfort in knowing the firefighter is using the tablet to gather valuable information to better respond to the call. Thanks in part to a grant from FM Global, the Newton Fire Department’s vehicles all will soon be equipped with an Apple iPad loaded with lifesaving technology.

David Peckham, FM Global senior consultant engineer, presented Chief Kevin Yoder and Battalion Chief Randy Walker on Wednesday with a check for $2,794 to purchase three iPads, along with compatible cases and vehicle mounts.  Peckham lives in Newton but spends almost half of his time out of town on assignment for FM Global. He said he welcomed the chance to award the grant to his local fire department.

FM Global provides commercial and industrial property insurance, risk management, property loss prevention research, and claims handling. Walker said he applied for one of FM Global’s fire prevention grants after he heard the company awarded a similar grant to the Sherrills Ford Fire Department.

Once the three new tablets are installed, firefighters in all 17 of the fire department’s vehicles will have iPads at their fingertips to help prevent fires, get to burning buildings more quickly, and better protect themselves and the citizens they serve.

The iPads are portable tools firefighters use to conduct pre-fire planning and building inspections. Information about a building gathered during the calm of a routine inspection—floor plans, locations of hazardous materials, quality of fire-suppression systems—will be saved on the iPads, where it will be ready and waiting for firefighters during the heat of a call.

“We’re very appreciative of the funds,” Walker said. “It’s going to be a great help to have iPads in all the fire engines. The technology will make us even more efficient.”

Yoder echoed Walker’s sentiment, noting that in addition to keeping his staff safer by providing instant access to detailed information about a building, the iPads will also benefit citizens. By shortening the time between the moment a fire call comes in and the moment firefighters begin to extinguish the flames, firefighters will be able to more efficiently defend people and property from damage.

“I think the iPads are going to be a tremendous benefit to the fire department,” Yoder said.

Fire iPads

Newton Fire Captain Eddie Chapman plots an address on an iPad loaded with special software that helps firefighters get to emergencies more quickly and respond more safely when they arrive.

Fire iPads

David Peckham (right) presents a fire prevention grant from FM Global to Newton Fire Battalion Chief Randy Walker. The grant will cover the cost of three iPads that will help the Newton Fire Department respond more efficiently to calls for help.