( 2) John Mohan, director of the New York
Fire Department bureau of information and
computer services, left, congratulates Ron
Scherma, vice president of Brad Nation, on
completion of computerized dispatch system.
Maps of five boroughs are in background.
alarms, computer selection of responding units, and the automatic notification
of these units in an average of 40 seconds after a citizen’s first contact with
the fire department.
Both mechanical box and electronic emergency response system (ERS)
circuits are connected directly to the
computer. Telephone and ERS voice
alarms are entered by an operator who is
in contact with the citizen. Then, based
on company availability, STARFIRE
selects and displays an assignment to
the dispatcher for his approval. After the
dispatcher OKs the response assignment,
an alarm message is sent to the responding companies.
When an alarm arrives at the fire station, it is printed out at the watchdesk,
giving the units scheduled to respond,
and a time-stamped summary of all that
is known about the alarm.
Adapted to DC circuits
The alarm printout system on the AT/SP
was specially adapted to the old DC tele-
graph circuits to minimize any additional
communications costs. The AT/SP also in-
cludes a response panel for the fire fighting
unit to indicate acknowledge-
ments, unit status, and report
requests. There are over 300 AT/
SP units installed in the field at a
cost of $3 million.
The alarm summary includes
information obtained from the
citizen and additional information that the dispatcher has
about the request for service.
The fire company acknowledges by pressing 10-4 on the AT/
SP, tears off the dispatch, and
turns out the apparatus.
If unable to respond, the 10-14
button is pressed instead of 10-4,
and the computer automatically
selects a substitute company.
Upon returning to quarters,
the panel is used to update the computer,
indicating that the company is back. A
small light above each button tells the
member on house watch what he has to
press. If he presses the wrong button, he
can clear the panel by hitting the clear
button and starting again.
Although STARFIRE has reached
maturity, this is by no means the end of
the story. Now is the time for planning its
future. STARFIRE is the building block
upon which a more advanced fire fighting support capability can be built. A few
concepts that are at the early discussion
A digital status report system
would have the capability of entering
messages via a terminal on the apparatus. For example, inservice status could
be entered by pressing an “AA” button
(available on the air) similar to the “AQ”
(available in quarters) on the AT/SP. This
system would operate via a radio link
connected to STARFIRE.
A hazard data base could store life,
exposure, extinguishment, and exten-
sion hazards in STARFIRE. The data
base would contain structural data,
combustible materials storage locations,
detailed water supply information and
exposure problems. Action at a partic-
ular box, address, or geographical area
could generate an automatic retrieval of
this data. The information could then be
relayed to the field via the existing radio
system to augment eyeball judgments.
Early arson detection data base
could be installed on STARFIRE that
would contain addresses of buildings
that are highly suspect as arson candidates. Any fire activity at these buildings
would automatically generate a notification to the fire marshals, even before the
first unit is on the scene.
Advanced field communications
unit could carry a mobile computer
center connected via a radio link directly
to STARFIRE. This unit would be able to
deliver the full capability of the computer
system at the fireground scene.
These are but some of the possible
ways that STARFIRE can be expanded.
The determination of exactly which paths
will be taken will evolve from the New
York Fire Department’s greatest needs.
( 1) Dispatchers work at computer terminals with maps of
Manhattan fire units in background.