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Google grant offers lifesaving technology improvements for fire service

Google Nest and the Leary Firefighters Foundation team up for the 5th annual program to say 'thank you' to fire departments

Content provided by Google Nest

Fire protection services have evolved tremendously since the first firehouses were established. While there are still tried-and-true firefighting methods used to this day, the innovative use of technology is beginning to be seen at departments throughout the country. Advances in technology, and access to the technology, has helped to keep their firefighters safe while simultaneously allowing them to increase the safety of the communities they serve.

When it comes to situations of life or death, quick-thinking and action are of the utmost importance. In order for technology to be widely adopted and utilized by fire departments, it must be intuitive with ease-of-usability at top of mind. The technology should be reliable and advanced to handle urgent and complex situations, but simple and approachable to ensure that its utilization is second nature to the firefighter. Practice makes perfect. The more training a department undergoes, the better the chance that their firefighters will be able to perform under the pressure of a real-life scenario.

The Leary Firefighters Foundation and Google NEST pair up to offer a grant of $25,000 in Google technology to two U.S. fire departments.
The Leary Firefighters Foundation and Google NEST pair up to offer a grant of $25,000 in Google technology to two U.S. fire departments. (Getty Images)

Since firefighters don’t go on strike and are expected to always stand at-the-ready to protect their communities, departments are often targeted for government budget cuts. With funding falling to the wayside, many departments just simply don’t have the financial resources or ability to procure technology to help protect themselves and their communities. This is where Google Nest and the Leary Firefighters Foundation step in.

Since 2015, the Leary Firefighters Foundation has teamed up with Google Nest, maker of the Nest Protect Smoke + CO alarm, to provide departments and their communities with updated and lifesaving technology. Started as a program to provide assistance to departments in need, the partnership has only grown throughout the years, providing more technology to an increasing number of departments. In 2021, Google Nest and the Leary Firefighters Foundation will award grants to two U.S. fire departments, providing $25,000 of Google technology to each department. The grants have shown to be extremely helpful to departments in the past, with recent recipients utilizing the technology for everything ranging from training exercises to deploying the technology in the field.

The most recent Thank You Grant recipients were the Godfrey Fire Protection District in Illinois and the Clinton Fire Department in Iowa. We were able to catch up with each department to discover how exactly the grant has helped them, both in the firehouse and in the field.

“The addition of these powerful devices from Google and the Leary Firefighters Foundation have proven to be incredibly useful,” said Greg Forari, assistant fire chief for the Clinton Fire Department. “We have integrated the Pixelbooks into the CFD’s Recruit Academy training process, and most recently vehicle and equipment daily checks, which eliminates the need to login on a desktop computer.”

In addition to aiding the department in training and equipment checks, their tablets have shown even greater value during the ongoing pandemic. Since the pandemic began, the Clinton Fire Department has undergone 39 policy changes, highlighting the growing importance of keeping all firefighters abreast of departmental changes.

“An additional bonus was noted over the last year with regard to the recent pandemic where meetings and trainings transitioned to the virtual setting. These tablets have been utilized to hold virtual meetings and trainings for staff, both on and off-duty, which helps to keep everyone informed,” said Forari.

The Godfrey Fire Protection District has utilized their Google Nest technology in much the same way. In addition to equipping both of their fire stations with Nest Learning thermostats and Nest Protect smoke alarm systems, the Godfrey department uses their Pixelbooks, Pixel Slates and Chromebooks for training and various inspection programs, as well as pulling up call information while out in the field.

“The Google technology, in particular the tablets and Chromebooks, have been put to good use by our department,” said Eric Cranmer, fire chief at the Godfrey Fire Department. “When it comes to filling out paperwork during inspections, the tablets and Chromebooks are much handier than filling out paper forms, and the physical keyboard makes filling out reports even easier. Saving time is crucial, from filling out paperwork to responding to calls.”

Captain Brian Estes had similar praise. “The technology we received from the grant has provided great improvement to our daily duties at the firehouse. It has also significantly improved our business inspection processes by streamlining all of the duties we are required to complete as part of this vital community service.”

Submissions are now closed (as of 7/1/21), and grant recipients will be announced later in 2021. Grant recipients can expect to receive $25,000 of Google technology, like the Nest Hub, Nest Protect Smoke + CO alarms and Google Pixelbook tablets.

About The Leary Firefighters Foundation

The Leary Firefighters Foundation was established in 2000 by actor Denis Leary in response to a tragic fire in Worcester, Massachusetts, that claimed the lives of his cousin, a childhood friend and four other brave firefighters. It is the only foundation in the U.S. that funds equipment, vehicles, education, training, and technology for firefighters nationwide.

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