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Mass. FD connects with citizens’ critical information through new website

The Community Connect feature allows citizens to provide critical information to Newburyport firefighters

By Jim Sullivan
The Daily News of Newburyport

NEWBURYPORT, Mass. — The Fire Department has a new online platform where residents can let the city know what is going on in their homes in case of an emergency.

Andrew Levine, chief of staff for Mayor Sean Reardon, said the city’s First Due website was launched Friday. It will take information from property owners who volunteer to participate — such as how many people and pets live in a home, as well as emergency points of contact.

“This is a great opportunity to keep yourself safe and give information to firefighters so they can also be safe in case of an emergency,” he said. “This really helps connect residents to their fire department.”

Levine said First Due is a free, secure and easy-to-use platform for homeowners designed to improve safety and the efforts of first responders.

Residents and business owners can sign up for a free account by entering their email, phone number and address.

They can then go to First Due’s Community Connect feature.

There, they can give the Fire Department critical information about their property that may help first responders in an emergency.

Homeowners can enter the number of occupants and pets in their home, any special conditions, as well as emergency points of contact.

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Business owners can let the Fire Department know about their emergency plans, if there are hazardous materials on the property, fire control systems, how many staff they have, and if anyone has mobility issues.

Anything helpful to firefighters can be entered in First Due, Levine said.

“This really helps the Fire Department map out buildings and understand what the environment looks like,” he said.

First responders will have access to the personal information only during a crisis, according to Levine.

He said it will be used for no other purposes and will not be shared.

“It’s all kept private and confidential, unless there’s an emergency,” Levine said. “The vendor does a good job of making sure all of the information is kept secure.”

Fire Chief Stephen Bradbury III said firefighter Conor Clancy took the lead role in preparing the department for First Due.

Clancy said he worked with Lt. Michael Comora and firefighter Chris Richard for about two years to find a new software program that could help gather much-needed information.

“We settled with First Due after receiving a demo from them,” he said. “This really was exactly what we were looking for.”

Clancy said the Amesbury and Salisbury fire departments also use the program.

“That really helps us because now we’re able to share information like building construction, hose/hydrant layouts as well as the general layout of the house with them,” he said. “That way, everyone will have an idea what of kind of situation they’re going into.”

Every second counts in an emergency, according to Clancy.

“It’s just a matter of having the most information we can and getting there as quick as we can,” he said.

Levine praised Clancy’s work on the initiative.

“He put in a ton of work to make this functional for the city,” Levine said.

First Due will cost the city about $20,000 a year, Levine said. The program will help the Fire Department with real-time GPS mapping, record management, inspection records and asset management, he added.

“It’s hard to put a price on this level of security,” Levine said.

Bradbury said in a release that his department is always looking for ways to better serve residents.

“By providing information about your household that you feel is important for us to know about at the time of an emergency, we can ensure you and everything you care about is protected to the best of our ability,” he said.

To sign up for First Due, go to https://www.communityconnect.io/info/ma-newburyport.

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