Emergency response information ‘on the go’

New equipment for digital pre-incident plans helps keep community of Sarnia safe

With a city of 77,000 people to protect—not to mention a port, an industrial sector and a steady stream of international traffic—there’s never a dull moment for Sarnia Fire Rescue Services.

But with the help of new technology, the department will soon be able to access lifesaving information—anywhere, anytime.

“Our department uses pre-incident plans to provide emergency response details for major buildings in the area, from seniors’ facilities to local arenas,” says Bryan Van Gaver, Deputy Fire Chief.

Currently, the pre-incident plans are hard copy documents stored at the main fire station. As there are too many documents to travel with in a fire truck, the information from the plans must be committed to memory to be used.

“The key portion is emergency situations. Pre-incident plans tell us all the life safety features in a building—where our water hookups are, where the electrical shutoffs are located. If it’s an apartment building, for example, they can indicate the units where people might need extra assistance,” explains Van Gaver.


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With this new technology in hand, Sarnia Fire Rescue Services will be able to respond to incidents faster and more efficiently than ever, saving time and resources.

“The plans are a training avenue for us as well. Once we have the new digital plans, when there’s some downtime, we can get on the servers and review the plans as a group,” he adds.

As part of Enbridge’s Safe Community program—which awards grants for safety equipment, professional training or safety education programs to first response organizations—we recently provided $7,500 to Sarnia Fire Rescue Services.

The grant will go towards purchasing mobile tablets and software to support the digital pre-incident planning and response. The new equipment and software are to be put into use in early 2020.

“We are somewhat unique for the size of this city in that we have a lot of things to take care of—an international waterway, one of the busiest international rail tunnels and an international road crossing. There are a lot of hazardous materials traveling through,” Van Gaver explains.

“Sarnia is basically a small town with our share of big-city problems, and along with the small town comes the small account budget. We really appreciate the help that Enbridge gives us by investing back into the community.”