In 2005, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service became one of the first in the country to deploy OS MasterMap® Topography Layer to every one of its appliances.
Since then, the challenge has been to expand the amount of relevant information available to officers attending an incident. Dave Bennett is one of the officers responsible for maintaining the geographic information within the service’s in-cab information service. ‘The focus has been on establishing partnerships with other organisations that hold valuable data. We always ask for their data; the worst that can happen is we can’t find a use for it.
The result is an integrated system for command officers drawing on sources as diverse as the Countryside Council for Wales, Forestry Commission and local government. The scope of the system is extensive. As a fire crew draws closer to the destination, so the Ordnance Survey mapping used changes to reflect the proximity – displaying OS MasterMap Topography Layer in the final stages. On site, the floor plans of specific buildings become available and in a recent development these were complemented with asbestos-risk information supplied by Cardiff Council.
Innovation is not limited to the urban environment. Information on the status of forestry tracks, areas of wildlife sensitivity and items of cultural importance are also available to the officer in overall command for the incident.
- Information about potentially hazardous sites reduces the risk of injury to fire and rescue crews.
- Incidents can be dealt with more quickly if crews have detailed site maps.
- Damage to sensitive wildlife habitats can be reduced by avoiding these where possible.
- With detailed site data, fire and rescue crews can prioritise their actions.