Bay Area software hailed as ‘revolutionary’ firefighting tool now in place across Sonoma County

Through the deadly 2017 North Bay firestorm, Sonoma County fireplace officials have been overwhelmed with the chaotic flip of situations and did their very best to handle sources, thumbing through paper maps and making an attempt to talk by means of active radio targeted visitors whilst trying to keep tabs on the whereabouts of their crews.

At situations, 1st responders felt “pretty helpless,” stated Chad Costa, assistant hearth chief for the Petaluma Hearth Section.

The siege of catastrophic wildfires has continued practically unabated because then, and Sonoma County fireplace captains promptly realized they required to up their technological recreation, Costa claimed.

In 2020, Costa and Spencer Andreis, battalion chief at Sonoma Valley Hearth District, came across Pill Command, an incident management and reaction software application established by Bay Area-primarily based firefighters. It is the kind of all-in-just one communications, mapping and dispatch tool they were being searching for.

In 2021, Costa and Andreis spearheaded a venture aimed at introducing the computer software among the all Sonoma County hearth departments.

The program, now utilized by most hearth apparatus in the county, has improved the sport, Costa said.

Hearth officials are now able to see wherever their staff are on a map, assign assets, talk, look at incident areas and 911 dispatch info, assign crews, upload evacuation and temperature briefings and additional ― all via the touch of an iPad display.

Software’s origins

In 2007, Pill Command founders William “Will” Pigeon and Andy Bozzo were being relatively new at the Contra Costa County Hearth Protection District when tragedy struck.

Two firefighters in their section died on obligation, making an attempt to rescue two people from a house hearth. A yearlong internal investigation observed a mishandled preliminary report led to delays and miscommunication contributing to the firefighters’ fatalities. It also drop light-weight on weaknesses in the department including lack of coordination and reliance on encounter-to-face interaction.

Bozzo and Pigeon, who experienced some faculty experience in pc science, began thinking how they could make improvements to field communication in their section.

Sitting on the sofa with Pigeon, actively playing Words With Buddies, a multiplayer term game application, Bozzo dragged a “W” throughout the board. Which is when he had an epiphany.

The thought of placing a letter on the board, instantaneously witnessed by a random player hundreds of miles away in Texas, could effortlessly be transferred to the assignment of a fireplace engine and the points could stand for the number of personnel assigned to that engine.

“So he had this epiphany like, ‘Oh my gosh, yeah, why can not we do that?’” Pigeon mentioned.

The two came jointly and began sketching the strategy out on napkins and whiteboards, brainstorming and boosting cash for at the very least a 12 months. They introduced the app in January 2013.


Just about 10 years on now, Tablet Command has more than 18,000 EMS and firefighter “users” throughout North America, Pigeon said, referring to unique officers and engines. Over 200 of individuals products are in Sonoma County, 125 of which are mounted in engines such as the Santa Rosa Fireplace Department.

Their workforce of 17 staffers at Pill Command is continually tweaking the app, Pigeon reported.

It now frequently notifies firefighters of incidents more quickly than the station does, he mentioned. It also lets firefighters to quickly look at WildfireAlert cameras, work offline and identify strike teams throughout several organizations in the state.

For example, “fire chiefs arrived again from (the Caldor and Dixie) fires final calendar year and they have been stating that it’s just revolutionary, it’s like electricity,” Pigeon reported.

In Sonoma County, the software program has allowed companies to incorporate customized map layers including evacuation zones, hearth scars, planned techniques of attack and protection parts,

Recalling the 2017 firestorm, Costa said, “There’s a great deal of helpless moments, where it just felt like there was absolutely nothing you could do.”

“So we are devoted to earning ourselves much better, and our departments improved and sometimes, specially in modern world, which is utilizing those people technological know-how equipment that are out there.”

Tablet Command has been a “great addition to our situational consciousness, our accountability and our ability to be prepared instead of reactionary,” he added.

You can get to Employees Writer Alana Minkler at 707-526-8511 or [email protected]. On Twitter @alana_minkler.