High tech fire maps hit North Saanich

North Saanich Fire Department is ready to launch new app

The North Saanich Fire Department will be busy breaking in some new technology this fall.

The department is in the process of phasing out the use of their old mapping systems. Through working with the municipality’s information technology department, have developed a way to link the fire department’s mapping system to the district’s geographic information system (GIS).

“This created more accurate mapping that was easier to produce and update,” said fire chief Gary Wilton during a presentation at Monday night’s council meeting.

He demonstrated the app that shows detailed aerial views of property boundaries, buildings and fire hydrant locations.

To make the system even more user-friendly, Wilton explained the fire department worked with the IT department to update their mobile computer application and tailor it to work on iPads.

“(The iPads) are lightweight, small, easy to use and ten-fold cheaper than the old technology we have now,” said Wilton.

The department currently runs their old mapping systems on rugged laptops which cost about $8,000 apiece. The iPads cost less than $1,000 each, said Wilton, and will function more effectively with the new GIS-based mapping system app.

“This system will be very beneficial to us,” he said. “The app will run on and offline and the beauty of it is that it us automatically updated.”

The iPads will run the new GIS-based app and will be able to more accurately pinpoint addresses while also giving fire crews access to vital information like what a structure at a certain address is constructed from and how many meters of hose they will need to run from the hydrant to the fire.

“This is a tremendous achievement,” said Rob Buchan, the Chief Administrative Officer after Wilton’s presentation to council. “This is likely to be a system that hundreds of other municipalities will benefit from.”