Akron is buying new technology to shorten response times for fire and medical emergencies.
“We anticipate saving 30 to 60 seconds per call, 50,000 times a year,” Deputy Fire Chief Charles Twigg told City Council on Monday.
“Thirty seconds doesn’t sound like much until you’re holding your breath,” Twigg said. “Sixty seconds can be life or death.”
The $613,999 package of software and hardware would serve all of Akron. Created by Westnet Inc., First-In Fire Station Alerting System will allow addresses recorded by 911 operators in Summit County’s new consolidated dispatch system to automatically notify the nearest firehouses in Akron. Currently, the county’s computer-assisted dispatch system relays calls to dispatchers in each participating city or township, like a second switchboard. In Akron, the second dispatcher must manually push buttons to sound individual firehouse alarms.
Only Akron will have the new technology, Twigg said.
Westnet manufactures the integrated firehouse alarm systems in California. Twigg said no other company offers this product, so Mayor Dan Horrigan dispensed with putting out bids.
Twigg said all 13 Akron fire stations will get the new fire station alerting system starting in April or May, when fire stations are rebuilt in Middlebury and south of downtown on Exchange and Thornton streets, respectively.
Twigg told the council that the new stations, which have separate dormitories instead of barrack-like rooms filled with bunk beds, will allow only those who need to be alerted to hear the alarm. Recent research suggests that a less abrasive and loud buzz could be better for employee health, Twigg noted.
As for the current system, no one knows how long it’s been around.
“Ours is beyond anyone’s personal memory of when it was installed or who designed it,” Twigg said.