Firefighters, communities battling wildfires get a FirstNet assist

Posted on August 23, 2018 , Updated on August 23, 2018

by Mike Duyck, Fire Chief – Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue

Connectivity is a crucial part of public safety. When we’re on the fire line, daily briefings with all crews are critical for safety and situational awareness. We also need to coordinate for the day ahead. And we need to be able to call our loved ones. It provides a critical sense of normalcy when we’re spending days away from home.

Thanks to FirstNet, firefighters responding to the recent Sugar Pine/Miles fires in Prospect, Oregon, got a boost in their communications.

With nearly 2,000 first responders converging on the base camp, we were having trouble getting a reliable connection. The area was designed for sporadic, interstate travel. It’s not made for such a large community of first responders. And the influx severely bogged down the network.

So, our Fire Incident Management Team called upon FirstNet for support.

FirstNet quickly deployed a Satellite Cell on Light Truck (SatCOLT) to give us additional capacity at the base camp and to those responding to the fires.

With the SatCOLT, we got greater situational awareness – with access to data, applications and communications. And this translates to a higher level of safety on the fireground.

As it stands today, we might have weather challenges. But FirstNet is meeting our coverage needs. It’s giving us the connectivity we need and bringing comfort to our first responders during a time of high stress and high anxiety.

Fire Chief Mike Duyck is a member of the Public Safety Advisory Council for FirstNet.

FirstNet – providing support for first responders

FirstNet has also helped first responders in California as they combat the fires on the west coast. FirstNet has helped to give public safety the connectivity they need to communicate and coordinate their response efforts. As wildfires continue to impact the west coast, FirstNet will continue to provide support to public safety.