Firefighters know their way around town, but when new subdivisions are created, it can take time to learn all the street names. And there are lots of new developments popping up.
Champaign firefighter Brad Peck knows the city is growing. "If we get an alarm, we'll all hear it and all look around and think, I don't know where this is at. This is something different," says Peck. He says the new computers will help them keep up.
Ten of Champaign's trucks now have the computers, showing firefighters where the call is and giving them a map of how to get there. The system will also show a satellite image of the place their heading. That way, they can get an overview of the building and know the hazards, without having to drive around it.
They say this will help reduce response time. And it's something Urbana firefighters are waiting to get their hands on.
The Urbana Fire Department isn't getting the mapping feature for awhile, but it is getting laptops that will show them what floor plans of buildings look like. Right now, when they respond to a fire they only have one computer in the command unit. And they look at the plans the old fashioned way, in binders.
Rex Mundt, Urbana Fire Chief, says firefighters know their town, but "every little tool like this makes it that much more effective" to fight fires.
And these computers won't just help us stay safe, they'll also help the firefighters.
Lt. Mark Lapp, Urbana Fire Department, says "if they get confused in smoke and need different directions out or different stairwells, I can just bounce back to that floor plan and try to give them the best location their at now and I can give them the shortest exit."
The computers can also show firefighters where there are road blocks..so they know what areas to avoid. Firefighters say they're going to be a great tool, but they do know they're dealing with computers. And computers aren't always 100% reliable, so they're keeping those paper maps and guides close too.