Fire Department Pleased with New Alert System

The Beverly Hills Fire Department is implementing a new alert system that will deliver emergency calls faster, more clearly and more efficiently than ever before.

The device, which was designed by US Digital Designs and is called the Phoenix G2, will be implemented in fire stations around the city as an updated way to dispatch firefighters 24 hours a day. 

“It allows us to get the information right away and then to get started responding on that call as quickly as possible,” Beverly Hills Fire Chief Gregory Barton told the Courier.

As soon as community members call 911, they’re connected with a dispatch center. That center inputs information about the emergency into their computer and it gets transmitted to one of the city’s three fire stations. The Phoenix G2 then alerts the firefighters via a digital voice and lights that determine which equipment will need to be used. Every aspect of the device is made to make responders more efficient, which in some circumstances, could be the difference between life and death.

“Even more importantly, it’s very clear,” said Barton, who explained that the system has been in need of an update. “If you’ve been a firefighter in this department for a long time, you would understand what the call was and where they were going. However, if you’re just a community member walking in, it wasn’t clear enough.”

The old system relayed messages from a dispatcher through a radio, which was at times, hard to understand. The updated system uses text-to-speech technology to relay automated messages from the dispatcher. “A message gets sent and it gets translated by the text-to-speech engine,” said Xenophon Gikasi, the system integrator. “You’ve heard the voice actually. I hear it a lot on TikTok.”

Besides being easier to understand, the system is also more precise in locating which firefighters need to be dispatched. According to Barton, the Phoenix G2 can alert specific responders, allowing others at the station to get the necessary rest they need to recharge. “In the middle of the night, it allows them to ensure they’re getting proper rest,” he said. “The older system was just very loud. This has more of a ramping function to it. So, it awakens the firefighters, but does not startlingly awaken them. So, it’s a health issue as well for the firefighters.”

The system alerts specific firefighters by determining which vehicle needs to be dispatched. The firefighters assigned to Engine 1, for example, can adjust the settings so that they will only be awakened if Engine 1 needs to respond to the call. To make this feature possible, the system has been installed in the sleeping quarters and first responders can enter the room that they’re sleeping in on the device. The quicker notification time also allows the system to to jolt the firefighters awake less aggressively. All this to say, the system is just as much a benefit to the first responders as it is to the community. 

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