Welsford Fire Department adopts new alert app to enhance roadside safety

February 16, 2024

New alert system aims to protect firefighters on busy highways

The Welsford Fire Department, New Brunswick, has introduced the Haas Alert System in their fire apparatuses.

This innovative technology is designed to alert drivers through apps like Waze, Apple Maps, and certain vehicle navigation systems when they are within a two-kilometer radius of an active emergency scene.

Fire Chief David MacCready emphasized the necessity of this system due to the department’s frequent calls to incidents on Highway 7, a route known for its challenging and dangerous conditions.

MacCready highlighted the system’s importance, noting: “The majority of our calls are on the roadways and so that was what made our decision for us. Highway 7 is a dangerous highway that many drivers know. We’ve had a lot of fatalities and close calls with firefighters.”

Despite no incidents involving the fire team directly, the constant risk posed by the highway’s proximity is a pressing concern for the department.

Enhancing roadside safety response strategies

The department’s strategic approach to responding to highway incidents, known as fend-off positions, involves positioning fire apparatuses or trucks in a way that protects firefighters from oncoming traffic.

This method, combined with the Haas Alert System, represents a comprehensive effort to safeguard firefighters working close to traffic.

MacCready shared optimistic data supporting the technology’s effectiveness, stating: “Studies conducted by Haas Alert have shown that drivers who employ these systems, who employ these apps, can reduce motor vehicle collisions by 90 percent.”

The support for this technology extends beyond the Welsford Fire Department.

The New Brunswick Association of Fire Chiefs (NBFC) has endorsed the use of such safety measures.

Scott Poupart, president of the NBFC, underscored the potential benefits for firefighter safety, especially during highway responses.

“And one of our main areas of risk is obviously highway responses where we’re working in or around traffic. This should help to increase the safety of our members,” Poupart said.

A call for widespread adoption

While the technology is standard in fire apparatuses in parts of the United States, it is still gaining traction in Atlantic Canada.

Poupart expressed hope that the success seen in larger centers like Quebec would encourage more widespread adoption in the Maritimes.

The legal requirement in New Brunswick to move over and reduce speed when approaching emergency responders and tow trucks underscores the government’s commitment to safety, yet this new technology offers an additional layer of protection.

Failure to adhere to these laws carries a penalty of a $292 fine and three demerit points, highlighting the seriousness with which roadway safety is regarded.

FSJA Comment

The introduction of the Haas Alert System by the Welsford Fire Department marks a proactive step towards mitigating the dangers faced by firefighters on highways.

By leveraging technology to alert drivers of nearby emergency scenes, the department aims to reduce the risk of accidents, which is especially critical on challenging routes like Highway 7.

The backing of the New Brunswick Association of Fire Chiefs underscores the potential of such technologies to significantly improve emergency response safety measures.

As this technology gains traction, it could lead to a new standard in firefighter safety, emphasizing the importance of innovation and collaboration in addressing the risks associated with roadside emergency responses.

Read Next

Subscribe Now