"It's a giant leap forward in technology and in what these units
are capable of doing," Sanders said. "They are like rugged laptop
The mobile computer terminals, which use Microsoft programs, allow
firefighters in the field to retrieve dispatch information, send
e-mails and view "pre-fire plans." The plans include information
about building layouts, how many people might be inside and any fire
"This will increase efficiency from the dispatcher to the
emergency unit," Sanders said.
Officials from Verdugo Fire Communications Center -- the umbrella
organization for nine area fire departments that include Burbank,
Glendale and Pasadena -- initiated the application of the new
technology. Burbank Fire Department installed the systems in 20
engines, trucks, rescue ambulances and command vehicles.
The equipment cost $220,000, said Battalion Chief Tracy Pansini,
who was responsible for overseeing the installation in Burbank.
The upgrade, Pansini added, was sorely needed because existing
mobile data terminals were 20 years old, unreliable and too
antiquated to service.
"This new technology will make our jobs a little bit easier and a
lot safer," he said.
The new terminals will also make it possible for firefighters to
access a mapping system that shows satellite photos of the city and
vehicle location, and will allow personnel to input fire prevention
forms on-site. Those features will be updated within two years,