This article about a new real-time emergency communications app has been supplied by David Young, Fire Escape.
In June 2017, Perth firefighter David Young was filled with horror as he watched the footage of London’s Grenfell Tower fire where 72 people burned helplessly to their death a further 70 people were injured.
Even more horrifying was finding out that Grenfell Tower was a ticking time bomb. Its 24-storey perimeter was clad with a non-fire-resistant material, there was no centrally-activated fire alarm, no sprinkler system, and the building was designed with only a single internal staircase making a mass exodus problematic. In addition, communicating with trapped residents was terribly inefficient if not non-existent. Radio communications were rendered inaudible by the noise of the fire and the ensuing chaos, and there was no central register of people’s phone numbers. Even if this had existed, there was no time to contact people individually.
This incident, along with many others in Australia and around the world, coupled with David’s experience as a firefighter, was the genesis for Fire Escape. What resulted is a real time emergency application that allows emergency services to communicate directly with residents during a crisis.
David’s 24 year career with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) in Perth, Western Australia, gave him firsthand experience of dozens of high-rise fires and evacuations. Through these incidents, he saw the need for a direct ‘Emergency Service to Occupant’ communication system.
FIRE Escape is a high-performance real time communication application system designed for the safe evacuation of occupants from high rise buildings. It allows the Emergency Services to directly communicate with every registered occupant via a text message or a text to voice message for occupants with landlines. As a result, the Fire Escape platform can dramatically speed up rescue efforts and make them more efficient, saving lives and providing a level of calm during an emergency.
The Benefits of the Real-Time Emergency Communications App
- Emergency Services can send pre-templated or free text instructional messages direct to every registered occupant. This can be hundreds or thousands of people!
- Instruct building residents when are how to evacuate a building and direct them to the designated first aid/triage area of safety. This means that in an emergency, the recipient gets credible emergency instructions to their registered mobile or land line directly from the Fire Brigade.
- Ability to send ‘text to voice’ for registered landlines.
- Emergency SMS message can be sent in multiple languages.
- Provide Emergency Services with vital information on each registered building for incident analysis such as information on people with mobility impairments. Combining this with printable building floor plans means that Emergency Services can identify and reach mobility impaired persons quickly and direct occupants via specific routes away from harm. This is an invaluable resource tool for all emergency incidents.
- Sending an early evacuation message to people living in regional areas where typically, fire services are spread over vast distances.
Direct benefits for Strata Managers:
- Ability to now receive SMS updates from emergency services.
- Allows Strata Managers to send non-emergency messages to occupants en masse. The technology can be used as a general communications platform for strata managers and self-managed communities as it can relay routine messages such as notification of building works, information on maintenance and proposed meeting time/dates. Messages can be sent to a whole complex or a subgroup with only a few clicks of a mouse, and it can include landlords in the message loop.
- Provides a secure and confidential database for Strata Managers.
- Enables a simple upload of information using a secure back end with no complicated processes.
- Is a one-way communications platform using SMS, to ensure important information to communicate to all recipients quickly. Residents cannot ‘reply all’ to messages meaning that this cannot be used as a social group application.
- Allows tenants to register an ‘In Case of Emergency’ number (ICE), ideal for parents with students living away from home and adults with elderly parents.
After an emergency, the recovery phase can often be longer than the actual incident. Fire Escape provides the means to communicate effectively with residents after an emergency. And even though a building may have an existing evacuation system, the big difference with emergency communications app is that it doesn’t stop once you exit the building. Using Fire Escape means people are fully informed during, as well as after the emergency.
The emergency communications app can also be adapted for other emergencies such as building floods, hazardous materials or HAZMAT incidents or Police incidents such as violent offenders on premises.
Australia has had its own high-rise apartment emergencies in every capital city, ranging from fast spreading aluminium composite cladding fires in Melbourne to well publicised structural defects in Sydney. Some incidents have occurred in relatively new buildings and have resulted in occupants being evacuated at a moment’s notice in the middle of the night.
Fire Escape has the potential to save thousands of lives in an emergency. It is about direct mass emergency communications. It enables emergency evacuation to be better controlled and informs stakeholders such as residents, landlords and strata managers and has the capability to provide an invaluable communications service in the hours, days and sometimes months following an emergency.
When Minutes Count and Lives Can Be Saved
Out of the ashes of Grenfell Tower fire, a clever idea was borne that modern technology allowed to come to the fore.
If you would like more information or are interested in taking part in our no obligation 6 month free trial for a select number of apartment blocks please get in touch with David. This offer is available for a limited time only.
This post appears in Strata News #280.
- WA: Emergency Planning – Are You Prepared?
- NAT: Q&A Better organise your lift emergency phone lines now!
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