This page highlights how new equipment improved response times.This page is intended for fire departments and nonaffiliated Emergency Medical Service organizations (EMS).
AFG Grant-Purchased Equipment Decreases Response Times for Miami Department
With both the economic decline and a population increase, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR) in Florida was struggling. The department was forced to implement a budget cut of almost $54 million over the past four years and due to unprecedented levels of unemployment and foreclosures, the county’s tax base experienced a 15-30% decline in their tax bases. Miami-Dade County was among the top 10 counties in the nation with the highest foreclosure rates and their unemployment rate hovers just above the national statistic at 9.8 percent. With the MDFR being the fourth largest fire department in North America, additional funds were drastically needed. Fortunately for them, they were awarded a 2012 AFG Grant for $ 1,015,974 which helped the department acquire an IP-based alert system.
MDFR purchased the US Digital Designs (USDD) Phoenix G2 Station Alerting system. This system allows central servers to be located at both the primary and backup communications centers, and the ATX Station Controller alerting equipment to be at each fire station. It provides zoned alerts for individual units in the fire stations and includes VoiceAlert automated dispatch announcements, incident messages, and turnout time displays.
“It has decreased the dispatch alerting time for resources while improving the capacity of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue dispatch radio channels,” said Lisset Elliott, MDFR’s Grant Resources Manager. “By reducing the dispatch time to fires, it increases the likelihood of a successful interior rescue of trapped people and the loss of property due to fire damage.”
The new system significantly reduces the time to alert fire stations. The new system can alert 20 stations in under one minute using the data network. It can also control multiple, simultaneous station alerts without a radio-channel bottleneck. The new system replaces the previous two-tone based alerting system and becomes a significant portion of the 80-second turnout time specified in NFPA 1710.
“While two-tone paging is still present in the new system, this signaling is only used as a backup when a station is not reachable over the data network,” said Elliott. “Additionally, it allows for less radio traffic and availability for increased dispatch or tactical traffic.”
The grant was issued in May 2013. USDD began the project in July 2014 and the alerting system was activated for MFDR in September 2014. But it was in June 2015 when a building assignment required 10 units to be dispatched by MDFR. It would have taken the old system almost 27 seconds to send out alerts. The new system, however, was able to alert all stations simultaneously in one second, drastically improving response time. The new system also allows MDFR to implement less jarring tones that are more “heart-friendly,” according to Elliott.
She also stated that Miami-Dade Fire Rescue will continue to seek the support of the AFG Program in order to always be ready and proud to serve. Their experience with the AFG Program has been very rewarding.
“MDFR is very fortunate to always have the support and guidance from FEMA’s AFG staff, and with their assistance any challenge met through the application process was resolved with guidance and assistance,” she said.