By Josh Jordan
The Pleasant Township Fire Department is getting a new GPS system added to their fleet of vehicles.
“If we’re out on the freeway and this device is activated on our vehicles, it will tell the people using Waze (the app) where we’re at to hopefully make our jobs a little safer,” said Brian Taylor, fire chief of the Pleasant Township Fire Department. “You know there’s a number of firefighters killed every year out on freeways and we’re out there quite a bit.”
HAAS Alert delivers real-time alerts to drivers when first responders are en-route to a call or on-scene.
“This will hopefully make drivers pay more attention and make our job as safe as possible,” said Taylor.
Three devices were given to the fire department at no charge and are being installed on the trucks, also at no charge, to get the system up and running.
According to Taylor, HAAS Alert, based out of Chicago, reached out to the township and asked if they would be willing to participate in the program. The township is acting as a pilot for this program along with Truro Township to test the program and collect data. It is unknown if the devices will be kept in the fleet permanently or if they will be returned at the end of the program.
When asked if he would like to keep the system, Taylor expressed a strong desire to do so.
“I’m hoping that if we don’t get to keep the ones we have, we get a discount,” he said. “We’ll see what happens with the data.”
The system is currently being tested in several cities throughout the country. During a conference call with a department in Michigan, Taylor was able to see how the system will work when the installation is complete.
“While I was on the telephone (with the HAAS Alert representative), Grand Rapids was going out on calls and I could see trucks moving around. It was kind of neat to see the technology working,” said Taylor.
Taylor said the hope is that in the future, the technology would be able to work with the navigation system in all modern vehicles.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic related incidents were the number one cause of death for first responders in all but five years between 1997 and 2016.