St. Louis firefighters and other area first responders will be able to access information on more than 2,000 buildings via myriad computing devices, even while en route to an emergency, through the CommandScope pre-plan technology software, according to recent announcement from RealView, which developed the CommandScope platform.

CommandScope lets fire departments instantly access and share relevant information about a given area, according to David Howorka, executive vice president of RealView. For example, they can access floor plans, fire-hydrant locations, utility shut-off locations, and lists of people in the area with special needs that can impact strategies for responding to an emergency in the location, he said.

In addition to accessing information maintained in CommandScope, the software platform allows the easy integration of other database sources, Howorka said.

“What we’re doing is we’re replacing a lot of the paper binders that most departments are used to using, not only for fire but also for police,” Howorka said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “What happens is that, when these responders get the 911 call, their computers may provide them with map data on how to get there, but the real important information is what’s under the roof, and what’s behind the four walls of the building that they’re about to enter—90% of the time, they’ve never been in the building before.

“CommandScope provides situational awareness, so everybody can make educated decisions with the data that’s provided in the pre-plan, instead of responding through guesswork. We say that we save lives with our software.”

Fire departments often have established pre-plan strategies for approaching emergencies near key facilities, but this information traditionally has been put on paper and stored in notebooks that are not easy to use or share during a response, according to Michael Arras, St. Louis deputy fire chief.

“The CommandScope installation is an investment to better serve firefighters for the collective safety of building occupants and the public,” Arras said in a prepared statement. “The technology is simple and easy to use so firefighters get quick access to critical building information. Now, information is all in paper notebooks that are hard to update and are not practical to use in an emergency. Trying to remember a building’s information a year or two after a survey was completed isn’t easy.

“In addition, it is almost impossible to update and keep current. We need to keep our data up to date; otherwise, the information becomes somewhat useless.”