Apps every firefighter should have on their phone
We have more information available at our fingertips than ever before
Recently, our engine company was called to assist in removing handcuffs from a juvenile at a residential correctional facility. We had a somewhat extended response to the location, as it was on the edge of our jurisdiction. On the way, we realized that none of us on the engine had ever had to cut off a set of handcuffs before. So, those of us in the back and the riding officer quickly searched what we could find on our phones. This helped us at least have a starting point for a plan by the time we arrived, as well as an awareness of some of the tings to avoid.
This is just one of countless examples of times when we turn to our phone for a quick answer – for just about anything! We have more information available at our fingertips than ever before in history. Some of this information flows through apps designed specifically for the fire service.
We've rounded up some apps designed for first responders to help you stay in the know on the latest technology.
Wildfire Analyst Pocket
This app allows you to perform quick fire behavior predictions on common fuel types using standard weather inputs, and will plot the results on a map or aerial photo. This allows you to quickly predict fire size, flame length and other factors, and get a visual idea of fire size. This can assist with planning for evacuation or determining values at risk.
The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) app offers an electronic version of their NREMT certification and progress toward recertification. The app allows department training officers to quickly look up information about users in their organization and verify credentials.
FiRST and HazMat Evac
The First Responder Support Tools (FiRST) and HazMat Evac app determines evacuation and shelter-in-place areas for a hazmat release or an improvised explosive device. You can search hazmat chemicals by name or UN number, and select for large or small spills, plus day or night options to correlate with what is found in the ERG. The IED feature – developed by the Department of Homeland Security – allows you to place an incident on a map, choose the IED type, and get a visual of the area to be immediately evacuated.
The SALT Triage app allows you to quickly triage patients using the SALT system: Sort, Assess, Lifesaving Interventions, Treat & Transport. Sort a patient by answering quick yes or no questions, and the app keeps track of how many patients were triaged in each category. In addition, the app allows you to mark that the patient was transported and updates the number of patients accordingly.
PHMSA (U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration)'s 2020 Emergency Response Guidebook provides a go-to resource to help deal with hazmat accidents during the critical first 30 minutes. The ERG contains an indexed list of dangerous goods and the associated ID number, the general hazards they pose and recommended safety precautions. The latest version includes general revisions, reorganized general information pages, and the addition of protective distance mapping. The ERG is available free to public safety agencies in all states and territories through designated state coordinators’ offices. PHMSA has partnered with the National Library of Medicine to provide this free application as well as a version of the ERG in its Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders (WISER) application.
The Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders (WISER) app is designed to assist with hazmat response. First responders in general, and hazmat units in particular, must make many decisions quickly in handling hazmat incidents. They need accurate information about the hazardous substances, the emergency resources available, and the surrounding environmental conditions to save lives and minimize the impact on the environment and physical property. The WISER app extracts content from TOXNET's Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB), a resource maintained by the National Library of Medicine, and places that information into the hands of those who need it most.
5-0 Radio Police Scanner
Tap into the largest collection of live police, firefighters, aircraft, railroad, marine, emergency, and ham radios. If your jurisdiction or agency doesn’t have a live ability to receive radio traffic or CAD information on your phone, this app could potentially add situational awareness of what’s happening in your response area.
The Bryx 911 app provides real-time intelligence to aid in incident response. Real-time 911 alerts are accompanied with information about location and scene intensity as well as navigation tools en route to the incident. Bryx 911 provides multiple ways to connect with other responders and their respective stations. It allows users to report response status, see when and where other responders have arrived, and listen to a department audio stream.
Arc GIS Online Apps from ESRI
ESRI’s suite of apps can allow you to collect real-time data in the field, share maps among users in your organization, and navigate through your world. From documenting damage, correcting hydrant locations, mapping wildland fires, and accessing data from previously developed GIS data, this app family can help drive location derived data into the field. If your city or county already has an account with ESRI, and a GIS technician, they can likely set you up as a user, and allow you to access and contribute to their GIS database.
The Drugs.com apps allow you to look up drug information, identify pills and keep track of personal medication records on a mobile device. The free Medication Guide app includes an online database of drugs with the ability to search, personalize information, and check how different drugs taken at the same time will interact. The database also comes with a phonetic search, the ability to ask questions about specific medications, and a pill identifier feature that identifies medications based on imprint, shape or color. Users can set up their personal medical information, and access the interactions, side effects, dosage, consumer information and FDA alerts.
The Firefighter Pocketbook
The Firefighter Pocketbook is a training tool for firefighters, offering quizzes, flashcards and scene checkoffs. The material has been prepared and verified with 2011 NFPA and IFSTA textbooks, and there are more than 550 practice exam questions and 700 flashcards available. The app is divided into three sections – Study, Checkoffs and Library – for easy navigation.
Fire Flow/Pump Pressure Calculator
This fire application calculates both estimated needed fire flow required to extinguish a structure fire as well as pump discharge pressures for various handlines and master streams in both standard and metric terms. The app is designed by drivers/operators to be used during emergency response or preplanning to apply calculations to help control the incident.
PulsePoint AED is designed to build a growing registry of AEDs that can be used during cardiac emergencies. It’s designed to complement PulsePoint Respond, an app that connects members of the public so bystanders can find people who are CPR-trained as well as a nearby AED. Once the location of an AED is entered into the PulsePoint AED app, it immediately becomes visible in the PulsePoint Respond app. All the information also is provided to the local emergency communication centers and displayed on dispatcher consoles during calls, so they can use the information to direct callers to the device.
Through 3D graphics, this app can help you view and learn to tie over 160 knots. View and rotate the knots in 3D view, watch and animation, and even use your finger to “tie” the knots on screen. Knots are arranged by category and can be added to a favorites list for faster reference.
ShiftLife Organizes provides a clear and easy display of upcoming shifts, training days, holiday, on-call days and other important events. In addition to allowing you to plan your future work and play, ShiftLife makes it easy to maintain a record of your completed shifts, overtime hours, working locations, hourly pay, total pay, sick days and other details.
Of course, the list wouldn’t be complete without the FireRescue1 app – a one-stop resource to keep informed while on-duty or on the move. Stay up to date on breaking fire news, videos, expert columnist articles, firefighting tips and other relevant information.
This article, originally drafted by a FireRescue1 staff member in 2014, has been updated over the years, most recently by columnist Andrew Beck.