VFD new air packs to improve firefighter accountability, safety


VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) – The Valdosta Fire Department (VFD) received new gear to help save firefighters’ lives.

WALB News 10 got a first look at the new technology.

“The technology in SEMS two system that is in the new air packs allows the incident battalion chief and incident commanders a lot more access at their fingertips and visual cue to let them know how their people are doing on scene,” John Herpin, battalion chief, said.

Now, with a click of a button on the console, the firefighter can send an acknowledgment back...
Now, with a click of a button on the console, the firefighter can send an acknowledgment back to incident command.(WALB)

Herpin said the new system enables them to transmit alerts and monitor firefighters’ air consumption levels.

Battalion chiefs or incident commanders can send them from their laptops.

This happens in real-time, while firefighters are inside a burning building or dangerous environment.

They can also send evacuation signals from the outside. If a firefighter has not moved, an alarm will go off.

This allows incident commanders to know more quickly if rescue is needed for a missing or downed firefighter.

It also improves accountability and communication between firefighters and incident command on scene.

“It’s fantastic, as far as from a commander control aspect, we get to see how our people are doing on the scene, at their consumption levels. If there’s an emergency event to go on, happens at the scene, there’s a secondary means of identifying who is in trouble and another way for them to acknowledge if they’re okay and a way for them to say if they’re in trouble,” said Herpin.

The Valdosta Fire Department got new air packs.
The Valdosta Fire Department got new air packs.(WALB)

Currently, firefighters must periodically radio in personnel accountability reports when requested.

Now, with a click of a button on the console, the firefighter can send an acknowledgment back to incident command.

This adds another layer of accountability and let’s them know everyone is okay and accounted for.

“It definitely gives us a sense of comfort knowing we can rely in the equipment that we have. It’s a very good feeling that the city is keeping us the finest equipment that we can buy,” said Herpin.

VFD is in phase one and received 17 Scott SEMS systems along with the air units.

Over the next three years, the fire department will use SPLOST VIII funding to replace all fifty-five of the current air packs.

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