Does it matter what color fire truck arrives at your door?
Believe it or not this exact question has been in discussion for several years amongst not only area Fire Districts but also on a state and national level. But the comment and discussion really has nothing to do with the color of the fire truck but the department name on the side of the fire truck.
Time is always of the essence in an emergency, the sooner emergency crews can arrive on the scene they better the chances for a positive outcome. It would seem that sending the closest fire truck or emergency responder would simply make sense, but it has yet to happen, not only here but in most parts of the country.
Several years ago the Osage Beach Fire District began tracking their vehicles with an AVL system. The Vehicle Locator system allows our dispatch agency to see the location of our two staffed engines at all times. Along with this system the District has worked with the App Developer to integrate their software with our 911 software. This integration allows the responding units to receive a text message on their truck mounted mobile devices that gives them turn by turn directions to the call.
What does this have to do with sending the closest truck? Within the next 30-45 days our dispatchers begin determining, based on the AVL, which of our two trucks are closest to the 911 call. We divide our District in half right now and anything that comes in on the east side of the bridge is Station 1 and anything on the West Side is Station 2 call. So what happens when Station 2 is working down A-Rd, inside of our District, and a call comes in on Jeffries? Station 2 is called even though Station 1 truck may be miles closer. With this new software now dispatch can see the location of these trucks and send the closest unit, thus saving precious time in the response.
So then what does this have to do with sending the closest Department? The next “logical” step would be to include Mutual Aid Companies into this response matrix. Lake Ozark Fire and Sunrise Beach Fire have also added the AVL capability to their trucks. The Osage Beach Dispatch Center will have the ability to see the locations of both Lake Ozark and Sunrise Beach trucks. With this added capability in the very near future it may give area Fire Districts the opportunity to respond in a quicker more efficient manner to emergencies here at the Lake, how? By sending the closest truck no matter whose call it is.  
This process is not without controversy as fire officials across the country are not completely on board with the concept. Next week we will look at the arguments against this new old thought.
So again I ask, does it matter what color fire truck arrives at your door…