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Fire Station Alerting System

On April 15, 2011 the City of Portland implemented a new Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. Along with that implementation, the City also went live with a new Fire Station Alerting System (FSAS) manufactured by a Kirkland, Washington based company called Zetron. Zetron FSAS systems have been serving the Portland Metro area for nearly 18 years so when it came time to replace Portland's aging FSAS equipment, a Request For Quotes (RFQ) was circulated in order to procure Zetron's IP-based FSAS.

Unlike the legacy Zetron Fire Station Alerting System which operated solely on copper telephone lines, Portland's new FSAS is designed to function over the City's network. 


What does it do?

The FSAS is designed to assist Fire Fighters/EMTs in being notified of an event and its location as quickly as possible. When a call comes into the 911 center, a dispatcher enters that information into their Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. In most situations, the CAD system automatically selects the Fire station/apparatus that can respond quickest to the event. The CAD system then sends that information over to the Zetron server. The server processes the CAD information, and then begins alerting the proper stations/apparatus. Generally, only a few seconds pass between the time CAD receives all the information and when the FSAS begins alerting stations.

Each Portland fire station is equipped with a Zetron box. When the box receives a signal from the server, it begins playing a tone through a loud speaker that is specific to an apparatus. In some situations, an audible tone plays to put the entire station on notice. Following the tone, a dispatcher comes on air and announces the type of call and location. 

Why is this system better than before?

During the planning phases of this project, some wondered what benefits this system would provide over the legacy Model 6/26 Zetron system. Aside from replacing 15-year-old equipment due to end-of-life support issues, this new IP-based system is quicker at alerting multiple stations than the legacy system. 

In the legacy FSAS system, multiple stations were altering in a consecutive manner, meaning only one station could be toned out at a time. If four stations needed to be alerted, the last station may not get their alert tones until after they've already been notified of the event through the backup system, their handheld radios; thus losing precious seconds of response time.

Legacy System
Unlike the Legacy system, the new IP-based alerting system alerts all stations simultaneously, ensuring that all stations get their alerts within seconds of the information being available.
Current System

 

What did the new system cost?

Implementation costs for the new system included procuring hardware for Portland's 30 fire stations, as well as installation for those 30 stations plus one station located at the Port of Portland. Additional costs included user training, and overall project management.

Total costs for the project came in just over $410,000. The entire project was paid for by savings that came out of the CAD replacement project, also managed by PSSRP. The project was completed in March 2011. Certain portions of this project are currently under additional development.

Have questions about this project? Email Mark Tanner (mark.tanner@portlandoregon.gov) for more information.

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