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Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department Boosts Efficiency With Active, Passive RFID

The Texas firefighters have adopted a hybrid active and passive RFID system from Silent Partner Technology, and are 3D-printing the tag holders to affix them securely to equipment with its own Gigabot printer.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 05, 2017

The Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department (Magnolia VFD), in Central Texas, has launched a radio frequency identification-based solution that tracks the locations and statuses of high-value assets in the trucks parked in its bays, as well as in a storage area, thereby reducing the amount of time otherwise required for firefighters to visually inspect assets in each truck or closet. The system, which leverages a combination of active and passive RFID technologies, is provided by Silent Partner Technologies.

The deployment is unique when it comes to the fastening and protection of tags that travel to fires and other emergencies mounted on equipment, Magnolia VFD reports. The department is attaching some of the tags via holders created with its in-house 3D printer, which was provided by re:3D. The plastic 3D-printed attachments ensure that the tags can withstand the rigors of the environments to which assets are exposed, according to Chuck Grant, Magnolia VFD's assistant chief, without their being destroyed or knocked off those assets.

The Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department has eight stations at present, with one more expected to open by the end of this year. At each location, officers are responsible for tracking all equipment used to fight fires or save lives, including hoses, cables, Jaws of Life, medical equipment and generators. It's a matter of ensuring operational readiness as soon as a call comes in, Grant explains. As each firefighter arrives onsite at the beginning of a shift, he or she must check the equipment on every truck and ensure that it is all there, so that nothing might be missing during an emergency call.

But that process is not so easy if, for instance, firefighters are changing shifts while a call is under way; the risk of miscounted inventory on a truck is always possible. In addition, some assets can be difficult to visually inspect. For example, 2,000 feet of fire hose packed onto a vehicle consists of 20 100-foot sections. The only way to ensure that the actual length of the hose is 2,000 feet would be for someone to count the sections.

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