The City of Chandler, Arizona, Fire Department is an internationally-accredited organization with an ISO Class 1 rating and a distinguished history of service to the community. Originally founded as a volunteer organization, the Chandler Fire Department is now an all career department.
The Chandler Fire Department protects the community by mitigating all hazards, including fire suppression, emergency medical services (EMS), hazardous materials response, technical rescue, and crisis intervention.
Though Chandler Fire was getting the job done and clearly moving in the right direction as a department, the organization saw an opportunity to upgrade their technology in order to speed up communication, connectivity, and deployment.
When emergencies happen outside of normal scope and affect a large number of people (natural disasters, power outages, mass shootings, etc.), efforts go beyond the first responders, requiring support from an emergency command/operations center (EOC) – like Chandler Fire. EOC’s support first responders and help them communicate and direct responsibilities with state agencies, FEMA, the FBI, hospitals, victims, and more.
The Chandler Fire Emergency Operations Center (CFEOC) is the technical hub of the Chandler Fire Department. To save lives and manage lots of collaborating teams, timeliness and the reliability of data during emergencies is critical. Keeping Chandler Fire up to date with the latest, cutting-edge technology is critical to protecting the community and emergency responders.
The CFEOC facility was built in 2009, and the technology had not received an upgrade since the building was developed. Understanding the importance of modern technology, empowering protection of the city, Chandler Fire engaged its purchasing division to seek exceptional AV vendors.
Spinitar impressed the Chandler Fire Department by coming prepared with actionable ideas and unparalleled expertise.
“I like having somebody that shows their expertise. Spinitar did a good job with that in the initial bid process to help us understand what solutions were available, so we could pick a good product.” – Keith Hargis, CFEOC
The goal of this project was straightforward: Undergo a complete renovation and implement updated systems so Chandler Fire could efficiently connect with people during an emergency. Additionally, Chandler Fire needed to better display information internally to more seamlessly communicate with and integrate team members throughout the facility.
The new technology would need to support real-time, in the field updates, and the sharing of information between command centers, hospitals, and law enforcement agencies that utilized different software and visualizations. Inside the command center, this information needs to be accessible, accurate, and have the ability to be shared across a room of up to 30 decision-makers who represent the entire community (government officials, fire chiefs, police chiefs, and more).
Emergencies are inherently complicated, containing roadblocks and other challenges. CFEOC wanted to ensure their facility didn’t add to the challenges already facing their rescue workers. Seamless and quick access to information was a critical requirement to empower their employees and rescue teams to do what they do best.
Ten years is a lifetime from a technological standpoint, and CFEOC was most definitely in need of resuscitation. With analog cables dispersed throughout the facility, poor wireless connectivity, and outdated tech that was difficult to integrate with modern computers and other tools, Spinitar looked to implement AV solutions that would remove roadblocks from Chandler Fire, resulting in seamless communication.
With pinpoint goals and highly refined processes, CFEOC was able to clearly define to Spinitar what it needed:
The ability to quickly mobilize key information and displays to the correct individuals was an important goal for CFEOC. They asked Spinitar to include a display with four monitors that could be used two ways — to display blocks of information or work together to form one, larger display.
To achieve the same goal and provide a better user experience, Spinitar designed a solution that includes one large panel, with four customizable areas. This solution offered the same flexibility while removing bezels and visual impediments, improving reliability, reducing cost, and creating a more seamless experience.
The main EOC room houses group tables necessary for different functional disciplines to meet, review, and take action during an emergency, or when monitoring events. To provide critical information and facilitate better communication, CFEOC features the main video wall with the flexibility to display one large image or smaller images as needed.
Chandler Fire faced a frequent need to “throw” content across areas and rooms as needed to inform and gather input from multiple team members during collaboration and emergency events. Spinitar provided a network video-based approach to allow any content, from any device, to be displayed anywhere in the facility.
Understanding the need for flexibility, speed, and reliability throughout CFEOC became the theme for the system design. Spinitar took this approach beyond the main room, to also include all of the computers and displays in the adjacent rooms. With cutting-edge technology designed for flexibility, Spinitar’s solution allowed the adjacent rooms to participate in the main room events as needed, while also providing the capability to be isolated for standalone conferences and events.
The ability to quickly and seamlessly control video sources on one or more of dozens of displays throughout the CFEOC required the latest sophisticated technology. Specifically, Spinitar deployed technology from Wyrestorm, Crestron, Samsung and more to bring their solution design to life.
Reliability throughout Chandler Fire is essential to mitigate risk and facilitate deployment during times of emergency. As such, Spinitar provided a Crestron-controlled system with additional iPad controls for quick assignment of video from sources to destinations using Wyrestorm encoders and decoders. All of the video devices were powered over ethernet through stacked LUXUL ethernet switches to reduce complexity and reduce points of failure.
Additional technology used at Chandler Fire included:
The EOC featured a main 4×2 video wall that can display eight individual video sources, or provide images that stretch across 2×2 displays. In addition, two portable cart systems with 80” displays were fed a quad input. This allowed the single display to show either four sources or a single display. These displays were designed to be easily moved to areas where people are working. These monitors are clearer, brighter, and easier to see than the low-visibility projection screen that was previously being used at Chandler Fire.
At the rear of the room are six overhead displays for additional source monitoring of data, local news events, or other necessary information. Each group workspace had a built-in switcher under the table, allowing a display to be shown from one of five sources.
Adjacent to the EOC is the Situation Conference Room, which could be used to work in collaboration with the EOC and also function as a standalone space for events and other activities. As a result, this room needed local presentation capabilities, audio and video conferencing, and the ability to integrate with displays in the EOC room.
The Situation Conference Room room has a central 75” display at one end for presentations, dual 65” displays at the opposite end for video conferencing, plus six overhead side displays for remote monitoring.
The Breakout Room functions as an executive leadership conference room that is often used to deliver briefings during emergency events. Both this and the Situation Conference Room are able to communicate with one another due to Spinitar’s integrative technical design and AV solution.
After concluding their AV systems design project with Spinitar, Chandler Fire now has a system in place that better prepares first responders to respond to emergencies, keeping the community safe. Since the close of the project, Chandler Fire has become an EOC to be modeled after. Due to the overall success of the project, other command center leaders now visit the CFEOC to strategize about their own audiovisual and technology upgrades.
Spinitar’s solution for Chandler Fire has enabled more team members to easily access and display critical information across multiple displays during emergencies and important events. Since the refresh, CFEOC team members can now connect a wider array of devices than ever before now that they are equipped with the latest technology.
Chandler Fire has noticed an immediate improvement in communication and improved user experience across the board. In addition, they can rest assured their technology is not only optimized to deliver results now but is also primed for future growth. Knowing that Chandler wanted to stretch the use of its new system beyond the typical 10-year lifecycle of technology, Spinitar integrated technology that was capable, and expandable for growth and improvement. Instead of replacing audiovisual equipment, the CFEOC will continue to expand in the effort to best serve their community.
Spinitar visits the CFEOC twice a year under their gold support plan, offering preventative maintenance by testing the systems and making any necessary adjustments/updates.
“I really liked my team’s transparent attitude and customer friendliness. When we came across an issue or a problem, they fixed the problem first and then we’d worry about the paperwork and the change order process later, because they recognized that EOCs are a critical piece of infrastructure and downtime is critical. They are truly customer-focused.” – Keith Hargis, CFEOC