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San Diego County fire stations go wireless

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calfirefighters2SAN DIEGO — A wireless digital communications and emergency response network was activated Wednesday at about 60 rural San Diego County fire stations in advance of the peak of fire season.
The expanded Area Situational Awareness for Public Safety Network, or ASAPnet, is part of a multi-agency network that includes sensors, cameras, microweather stations and earthquake monitors, officials said.
The system is based on UC San Diego’s High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network, which has mountaintop high-definition cameras that operate 24 hours a day.
“Because of their remote locations, most backcountry fire stations have lacked broadband connections common at public safety operations and in many people’s homes,” Cal Fire Unit Chief Thom Porter said. “With ASAPnet operational, our crews can now take advantage of new capabilities, including rip-and-run printers already operating in 27 stations that quickly put information about emergencies such as vehicle accidents into responders’ hands.”
County Supervisor Ron Roberts brought fire officials together with San Diego Gas & Electric in 2011 to talk about expanding, and later rolled out a public safety technology initiative. Next year, officials plan to connect 70 stations, including some operated by the U.S. Forest Service.
SDG&E was credited as a key partner in the development of ASAPnet because of its network of sensing equipment in the backcountry, officials said.
“With these partnerships and technologies, we are improving public safety while providing greater tools and information to help safeguard the firefighters and emergency response personnel who we all depend on to confront and manage San Diego County’s inevitable wildfires,” Roberts said. “The model we are embracing, and the cooperation we ar demonstrating, we will serve as the model for 21st century disaster planning and response.”