MENLO PARK (CBS SF) – Fire engines in the Menlo Park Fire Protection District are being fitted with Apple iPads that will eventually assist firefighters in responding to calls.

Seven front-line fire engines are now operating with iPads on board, Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said Thursday.

“It’s a new world of possibilities,” he said.

Initially, the new technology will be used to help firefighters conduct inspections of fire hydrants and local businesses.

“We’re already doing field inspections with these devices,” Schapelhouman said.

Instead of filling out a form, firefighters can enter the info from the inspection into an iPad, he said.

Once the iPads have been integrated into the inspection program, the department hopes to use them in coordination with other San Mateo County fire agencies and medical responders in emergencies.

The iPads could be used, for instance, to obtain a victim’s medical information while responding to a call, Schapelhouman said.

Different apps on the iPad would give firefighters immediate access to detailed information about specific building plans, hazardous materials or extrication techniques for specific vehicles, Schapelhouman said.

The quick information from the apps would ultimately replace the “binders and books” that have traditionally been carried in fire engine cabs, he said.

“We’re trying to get away from paper, but the technology has to work for us,” Schapelhouman said. “It can’t be a toy, it can’t be a distraction.”

The new technology is part of the fire department’s continuing effort to implement interactive tools that keep its day-to-day operations on the cutting edge of technology, “not just to make us look good,” Schapelhouman said.

The purchase of the iPads was made possible by a $10,390 donation from San Francisco-based Heffernan Insurance Brokers and the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company.



(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)



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