September 23, 2023

Tyna Woods

Technology does the job

Bay Place program hailed as ‘revolutionary’ firefighting resource now in spot throughout Sonoma County

During the fatal 2017 North Bay firestorm, Sonoma County hearth officials were overwhelmed with the chaotic convert of functions and did their finest to regulate methods, thumbing as a result of paper maps and seeking to converse through busy radio targeted traffic while retaining tabs on the whereabouts of their crews.

At occasions, 1st responders felt “pretty helpless,” explained Chad Costa, assistant fireplace main for the Petaluma Fire Section.

The siege of catastrophic wildfires has ongoing just about unabated since then, and Sonoma County hearth captains promptly understood they wanted to up their technological match, Costa said.

In 2020, Costa and Spencer Andreis, battalion main at Sonoma Valley Fire District, came across Tablet Command, an incident management and reaction application application founded by Bay Spot-based firefighters. It is the type of all-in-a single communications, mapping and dispatch software they had been looking for.

In 2021, Costa and Andreis spearheaded a task aimed at introducing the program among the all Sonoma County hearth departments.

The software program, now employed by most fire equipment in the county, has adjusted the game, Costa claimed.

Hearth officers are now ready to see the place their staff are on a map, assign sources, talk, watch incident destinations and 911 dispatch information and facts, assign crews, upload evacuation and weather conditions briefings and additional ― all via the touch of an iPad display.

Software’s origins

In 2007, Pill Command founders William “Will” Pigeon and Andy Bozzo ended up reasonably new at the Contra Costa County Hearth Defense District when tragedy struck.

Two firefighters in their office died on responsibility, trying to rescue two persons from a residence fireplace. A yearlong internal investigation observed a mishandled first report led to delays and miscommunication contributing to the firefighters’ deaths. It also lose mild on weaknesses in the office including deficiency of coordination and reliance on face-to-encounter conversation.

Bozzo and Pigeon, who had some university encounter in personal computer science, started pondering how they could boost discipline conversation in their section.

Sitting on the couch with Pigeon, actively playing Words and phrases With Pals, a multiplayer term activity app, Bozzo dragged a “W” across the board. That is when he had an epiphany.

The plan of positioning a letter on the board, instantaneously observed by a random player 1000’s of miles away in Texas, could quickly be transferred to the assignment of a fireplace engine and the details could depict the amount of personnel assigned to that engine.

“So he experienced this epiphany like, ‘Oh my gosh, yeah, why can not we do that?’” Pigeon reported.

The two arrived with each other and started sketching the plan out on napkins and whiteboards, brainstorming and elevating income for at minimum a calendar year. They released the application in January 2013.


Nearly 10 decades on now, Pill Command has over 18,000 EMS and firefighter “users” all through North America, Pigeon explained, referring to specific officials and engines. About 200 of people products are in Sonoma County, 125 of which are mounted in engines together with the Santa Rosa Fireplace Department.

Their team of 17 staffers at Tablet Command is consistently tweaking the app, Pigeon claimed.

It now often notifies firefighters of incidents more rapidly than the station does, he claimed. It also makes it possible for firefighters to effortlessly check out WildfireAlert cameras, operate offline and locate strike groups throughout various companies in the state.

For instance, “fire chiefs arrived again from (the Caldor and Dixie) fires final calendar year and they ended up expressing that it is just innovative, it is really like energy,” Pigeon claimed.

In Sonoma County, the software program has authorized companies to insert customized map levels like evacuation zones, fireplace scars, planned solutions of attack and basic safety parts,

Recalling the 2017 firestorm, Costa mentioned, “There’s a great deal of helpless times, in which it just felt like there was absolutely nothing you could do.”

“So we are devoted to building ourselves much better, and our departments much better and often, specifically in present day globe, that is using those people know-how instruments that are out there.”

Pill Command has been a “great addition to our situational awareness, our accountability and our capacity to be prepared in its place of reactionary,” he extra.

You can access Employees Writer Alana Minkler at 707-526-8511 or [email protected]. On Twitter @alana_minkler.