"We are in the process of modernising our way of functioning. But it's in the initial stage currently. We have given an expression of interest and asked the NIC and the NeGD to conduct a study on the working of the fire department," a senior Delhi Fire Service (DFS) official said.(HT File photo)
"We are in the process of modernising our way of functioning. But it's in the initial stage currently. We have given an expression of interest and asked the NIC and the NeGD to conduct a study on the working of the fire department," a senior Delhi Fire Service (DFS) official said.(HT File photo)

Delhi Fire Services plan tech overhaul, reduce response time, improve efficiency

The National Informatics Centre (NIC) and the National e-Governance Division (NeGD) have been asked to study the working of the fire department and accordingly give suggestions to modernise its functioning, officials said on Sunday.
PTI |
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 05:21 PM IST

From GPS-enabled computer systems for automatically redirecting calls to area fire stations to equipping firefighting vehicles with tablets and WiFi for receiving instructions from control rooms in real-time, the Delhi Fire Service is planning a technology overhaul to reduce response time and increase efficiency.

The National Informatics Centre (NIC) and the National e-Governance Division (NeGD) have been asked to study the working of the fire department and accordingly give suggestions to modernise its functioning, officials said on Sunday.

Last month, a proposal in this regard was discussed at a meeting. For the NIC-NeGD study, a survey has been carried out and a report is awaited, they said.

"We are in the process of modernising our way of functioning. But it's in the initial stage currently. We have given an expression of interest and asked the NIC and the NeGD to conduct a study on the working of the fire department," a senior Delhi Fire Service (DFS) official said.

Following their study, the NIC and the NeGD will suggest the DFS ways to modernise its functioning using technology in an effective manner to increase efficiency for quicker response, he said.

Citing an example, the fire service official said the department has been using basic technology when it comes to dispatching fire tenders to the spot of incident. Dispatching, among many protocols, includes determining the shortest route to the place of incident, he said.

"So, we are planning to introduce GPS-enabled systems in the DFS' control room, so that any distress call can be directly received by the system, which will also guide the nearest fire station to that particular fire call. Fire tenders, accordingly, will be dispatched from the fire station concerned," the official said.

Currently, the central control room receives calls on helplines and a department staffer logs in details of a distress call, including location, in a register. However, when the new computer systems are in place, details of a caller like the person's location will automatically get saved in the system, he said.

In case the call gets disconnected, the caller can be contacted again as all details will be recorded digitally, the official said.

The DFS said that WiFi-enabled IP address cameras and computer tablets are also likely to be installed in fire tenders.

The camera and the tablet will be connected with the central control room so that it can automatically guide firefighting crews to the spot of incident by suggesting the shortest routes. This will lead to quicker response, the fire department said.

"The idea behind fitting cameras in fire vehicles is that it will help us to keep track of them. In case a fire tender is stuck in traffic, we can mobilise fire tenders from other nearest fire stations. The camera feed will also help those at the control room judge the intensity of a fire and accordingly, strategise and deploy resources," the official said.

He said that currently when a distress call is received, a fire station alerts its crew by sounding a siren, but with tablets attached to fire tenders, the device will automatically get an alert from the control room.

The in-charge of the fire tender and its crew will also receive SMS about the location of the call and can be guided to it with details of the shortest route.

In addition, through the process of data mining, all raw data generated through the system can be used for analysing and identifying hotspots from where the highest number of fire calls are received and to further study the reasons behind high number of incidents, the Delhi Fire Service said.

Through modernisation, the fire department also hopes to minimise human interface as much possible to enhance efficiency and effectiveness, DFS officials said.

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