Computer technology used to notify firefighters

Quincy Fire Department

It's not too often when the Quincy Fire Department sounds a fifth alarm for a working structure fire.

It use to be when a fifth alarm was called, the 911 dispatch center had to make all the notification calls.

But now, computer technology has taken that over and all fire department personnel are notified within just a matter of minutes.

So on Friday night when the Quincy Fire Department rolled onto the scene of the Newcomb Hotel fire on Friday night, the incident commander knew from the very beginning he was going to need additional fire crews to battle the blaze.

"So what's it's doing is, it's getting notifications out quicker. It's also getting firefighters to the scene quicker," said Quincy Fire Chief Joe Henning.

The system will send out an alert for every working structure fire the department is dispatched too. From a general alarm, that sends three trucks and an assistant chief to the scene all the way up to a fifth alarm that calls in all off duty firefighters who are available. But it's up to the Adams County 911 Center to trigger the alert system.

"If we were doing the old way, multiple alarm fires, it could take 45 minutes, an hour, an hour and a half before we make all the calls. This way, it's less than five minutes, we've got the calls outbound," said Steve Rowlands, director of the Adams County 911 Center.

Henning said when he got the notification on Friday night, it said a working fire at 400 Maine. He said he knew the address and was on the scene within 10 to 15 minutes after the original dispatch. All because of the alert notification system that's been in place for just about a year.

Henning also said after the 5-alarm notification went out, 30 additional firefighters responded to the automated message.

Fourteen more were sent to the central fire station to answer other calls on Friday night.