Bryan Duell

Bryan Duell is the Goodyear Fire Department battalion chief.

When responding to a fire, every second matters. Fires can double in size every 30 seconds, making a quick, efficient response imperative to keeping residents safe and limiting property damage.

Facility managers are not always available during an incident, and the fire’s site may contain limited roadway access, blocked entries, or additional security measures, which can increase response time and pose significant dangers to first responders.

To assist firefighters and better protect residents and businesses, Goodyear is utilizing field-based geospatial information systems (GIS) data collection. 

“Picture in the middle of the night, we get a call out to a commercial structure, and we have a fire happening,” said Bryan Duell, Goodyear Fire Department battalion chief. 

“With GIS, we’re able to identify all the different attributes that we need to for firefighter safety and fire protection, and for the safety of the customers and the business. 

“We’re able to access that information, and see it like we’ve been there before, even if we haven’t. It’s all standard information that we would utilize in the Valley with our brothers and sisters responding there from any city that comes into our town.”

 GIS mapping enables all emergency response personnel to digitally capture location information using Esri ArcGIS Field Maps, collect and update preincident plans in real time, and deploy them digitally within the emergency response vehicles that are shared among responders in various locations.

The digital preplans also include video and photographs of site features. This helps save time and reduces data entry redundancy, and provides a common operating picture across West Valley safety organizations.

This preplanning allows public safety departments to work smarter and establish consistency that increases situational awareness, reduces errors and sets expectations for all responders. 

Preplanning also helps public safety personnel develop a better understanding of the community, including its strengths and challenges. It assists with the creation of community outreach plans and develops more accurate training exercises. GIS mapping information is also shared with other departments in Goodyear, including the Goodyear Police Department.

Prior to deploying a map-based, field data collection system, preplans were hand-drawn and then digitally recreated over a period of many years, with some degree of standardization and completeness. This information was then printed on a map and carried in binders within the emergency response vehicles.

A complete digital collection of site characterizations includes the location of utility shutoffs; access to buildings, gates, fences, hydrants and water supply; exterior wall construction, occupancy type; roof construction; details on ceilings, attics and basements; interior configuration and storage; fire protection systems; hazardous chemicals; and environmental constraints.

Goodyear already has GIS mapping in place for 70% of all commercial structures in the city, with the ultimate goal of 100%.

“We’re proud to be leading the way in keeping our residents, business owners and firefighters safe,” Duell said. 

“The information is captured and currently being uploaded into the Phoenix system where we prioritize those with the highest risk first and to the medium and then to the low-risk occupancies. And this is an ongoing process as everybody has been growing so much. We have new buildings, new firefighters, new attributes, all those things can be updated in real time, and they can be brought back into the system for anybody who’s responding, they’ll have the most up to date information for the city of Goodyear.”

In the next 12 months, Goodyear plans to train all public safety personnel in the use of field-based GIS application to collect additional preincident information for all 90 high-risk locations and 55 medium-risk locations in the city, and update the digital maps available in emergency response vehicles through the Metro 911 system.