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  • Bonita and Estero use Technology to improve training

    Area fire districts using technology to expand education for firefighters

    Wednesday, September 3, 2003

    By CHRISTINA HOLDER, [email protected]


    Technology is preparing some area fire districts for future training, administrative and public education duties.

    The fire districts in Estero and Bonita Springs are working on new programs to increase their reach internally and throughout the community.

    For many officials, the drive to develop technology in the districts is prompted by a need for easier access, more consistent programs and a growing community that will expect quality service.

    "The community could benefit from some of those programs," Bonita Springs Fire Spokeswoman Debbi Redfield said.

    Bonita district officials have been learning how to use advanced photo programs, a digital camera and a professional video camera.

    Captain Donn Cleland, the district's training and safety officer, said that using the equipment will help him keep the training programs more uniform.

    Currently, Cleland travels to the different stations and teaches the same programs to accommodate firefighters on different shifts.

    "Right now I have to make nine trips to three different stations on three different days," he said.

    The programs often are interrupted because the firefighters are called to a fire scene.

    "You wait until they get back from the call," he said. "When we come back, we get re-situated and start all over again."

    The new video equipment should help put an end to the interruptions and wasted time, Cleland said.

    "We can videotape their lecture, and then put it in a video format," he said. "We can present it out on VHS tape, and hopefully, in the future, it can go to DVD."

    Eventually, the video lecture will be posted on the district's intranet so firefighters can watch it when they have extra time.

    "Not everybody can be out at the training site at the same time," Cleland said. "You're making your time more efficient for everybody."

    In Estero, fire district officials are working on a station-wide intranet system to connect fire personnel and make transmitting information easier.

    "We're just in the finishing stages of completing our virtual private network," Executive Officer Jeff Lindsey said. "It will be more effective communications from the stations and administrative offices."

    Implementing more advanced systems, along with the plan to build a fire training center, are all part of a larger plan to prepare the district for the future.

    "It's like everything else," Lindsey said. "It's a matter of keeping up with technology."

    Redfield agreed.

    "Some of the larger fire districts you see around the state, they have video production departments," Redfield said. "Palm Beach County... (has) a 30-minute segment on that government access channel on safety topics."

    Currently Redfield is the only staff member overseeing public education. Estero Fire Rescue hired a public education specialist about two months ago.

    Redfield said implementing new technology will allow the district to extend its public education efforts.

    "Currently if we buy a video for fire extinguisher training for the public, there's no way to reproduce those," Redfield said. "We'll be able to make our own videos in-house, focusing on the community."



    Contact Staff Writer Christina Holder at 213-6039 or [email protected]
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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