Bay Area software hailed as ‘revolutionary’ firefighting tool now in place across Sonoma County

During the lethal 2017 North Bay firestorm, Sonoma County hearth officers ended up overcome with the chaotic transform of occasions and did their most effective to deal with sources, thumbing as a result of paper maps and seeking to converse by means of occupied radio targeted traffic although trying to keep tabs on the whereabouts of their crews.

At instances, 1st responders felt “pretty helpless,” said Chad Costa, assistant fire chief for the Petaluma Hearth Office.

The siege of catastrophic wildfires has ongoing virtually unabated because then, and Sonoma County fireplace captains swiftly realized they needed to up their technological video game, Costa mentioned.

In 2020, Costa and Spencer Andreis, battalion chief at Sonoma Valley Fire District, came throughout Pill Command, an incident management and response software package application founded by Bay Place-primarily based firefighters. It is the sort of all-in-1 communications, mapping and dispatch tool they had been looking for.

In 2021, Costa and Andreis spearheaded a challenge aimed at introducing the program amid all Sonoma County fireplace departments.

The computer software, now applied by most fireplace apparatus in the county, has changed the match, Costa explained.

Fire officials are now equipped to see wherever their personnel are on a map, assign assets, talk, check out incident locations and 911 dispatch data, assign crews, add evacuation and climate briefings and extra ― all by way of the contact of an iPad screen.

Software’s origins

In 2007, Tablet Command founders William “Will” Pigeon and Andy Bozzo ended up rather new at the Contra Costa County Fireplace Security District when tragedy struck.

Two firefighters in their department died on responsibility, making an attempt to rescue two people today from a dwelling hearth. A yearlong interior investigation located a mishandled original report led to delays and miscommunication contributing to the firefighters’ fatalities. It also lose light on weaknesses in the office together with lack of coordination and reliance on face-to-facial area communication.

Bozzo and Pigeon, who experienced some faculty working experience in laptop science, commenced thinking how they could improve industry communication in their department.

Sitting down on the sofa with Pigeon, taking part in Terms With Buddies, a multiplayer phrase sport app, Bozzo dragged a “W” across the board. That is when he had an epiphany.

The strategy of placing a letter on the board, instantaneously seen by a random player hundreds of miles absent in Texas, could easily be transferred to the assignment of a hearth motor and the details could signify the variety of personnel assigned to that engine.

“So he experienced this epiphany like, ‘Oh my gosh, yeah, why cannot we do that?’” Pigeon stated.

The two arrived together and began sketching the strategy out on napkins and whiteboards, brainstorming and increasing cash for at the very least a yr. They launched the application in January 2013.


Pretty much 10 yrs on now, Tablet Command has about 18,000 EMS and firefighter “users” throughout North The us, Pigeon said, referring to personal officials and engines. About 200 of those people gadgets are in Sonoma County, 125 of which are mounted in engines such as the Santa Rosa Hearth Office.

Their crew of 17 staffers at Tablet Command is frequently tweaking the app, Pigeon reported.

It now often notifies firefighters of incidents a lot quicker than the station does, he mentioned. It also lets firefighters to very easily perspective WildfireAlert cameras, perform offline and find strike teams across various companies in the point out.

For instance, “fire chiefs came back again from (the Caldor and Dixie) fires last year and they ended up indicating that it is just innovative, it really is like energy,” Pigeon claimed.

In Sonoma County, the software has allowed companies to increase personalized map layers like evacuation zones, fire scars, planned strategies of assault and basic safety spots,

Recalling the 2017 firestorm, Costa reported, “There’s a great deal of helpless times, exactly where it just felt like there was nothing at all you could do.”

“So we are devoted to creating ourselves improved, and our departments improved and often, particularly in present day world, which is using individuals know-how resources that are out there.”

Tablet Command has been a “great addition to our situational recognition, our accountability and our skill to be prepared as an alternative of reactionary,” he extra.

You can achieve Team Writer Alana Minkler at 707-526-8511 or [email protected]. On Twitter @alana_minkler.