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Success Stories

Niagara Falls Fire Goes Live with New Horizon EME CAD System

Project Highlights:
Integrated CAD, RMS,
and Alarm Monitoring System
Helping Protect One of the Country’s
Busiest Tourist Destinations
On Time and On Budget

Niagara Falls Fire Goes Live with New Horizon EME CAD SystemNiagara Falls –  Bustling City, Tourist Attraction, and Regional Hub

Symposium is proud to announce that Niagara Falls (Canada) Fire Department is now live with Symposium’s Horizon EME.

The Niagara Falls Fire Department serves one of North America’s busiest and best known tourist destinations, protecting a population of approximately 80,000 full time residents and dispatching a multitude of major apparatus and support vehicles from 6 halls. The department is composite in nature, with approximately 100 full-time and 100 volunteer firefighters, each with their own separate areas of response.

Aside from the tourist trade (which brings an estimated 20 million additional visits per year to the region), there are a number of other factors that make the department’s incident responses more challenging, including the size of the area covered (81 square miles), the high concentration of industry, heavily traveled rail and highway corridors, and unique natural features like the Niagara River and gorge.

Client-Controlled and Administered System “Exactly What We Wanted”

According to Sue Arbour, Head of Emergency Communications for the Department, their biggest priority with the new system was control: “One of the main things that’s important for us is the ability to control our own data and access configuration and maintenance functions. With Symposium, the system is fully open and fully configurable; as a result, we’re able to make changes and access information as required, without having to go outside the department.”

Powerful, Flexible, and Proven

In addition to system and data access, Sue said that there were a number of additional factors that the department found to be important: “We really wanted a system that had proven itself elsewhere – our responsibilities are too important to be a beta site for a new, untested system. As well, we needed guarantees that we would be able to access our data, and that the system would utilize standard Windows architecture. Also, we wanted guarantees about our costs, implementation timeframes, and support – no one wants an open-ended commitment. We chose Symposium not just because they SAID they could provide all these things, but because we were able to verify independently from numerous other departments that they do in fact deliver.”

Often, changing CAD vendors is not taken lightly, due to the perception that a lot has been invested in the existing relationship. According to Sue, this was something that Niagara Falls thought through and resolved: “Often departments look at how much money and effort they’ve sunk into a system over 5 or 10 years and think that by changing they have to start over, and it’s money down the drain. That’s not the way it is at ALL. Fact is, the money and effort are already spent regardless, and it’s not coming back. The REAL question that needs to be asked is how well your current system and relationship is working, and whether going forward with a new system and relationship will meet those needs better.”

Integration with RMS, Alarm Monitoring, and Paging

As part of the installation, the Symposium CAD was integrated with a number of third-party systems that extend its capabilities and effectiveness. The integration with Ingenious Software’s FIREPRO™ RMS provides personnel with full transparent real-time access to critical premise information, as well as providing for automatic population of incident response information for OFM reporting. FIREPRO™ is the RMS of choice for an increasing number of Canadian fire departments, and Ingenious Software has developed a strong reputation as a responsive and pro-active vendor. As per our standard approach, Symposium has worked with Ingenious Software to ensure departments have the ability to use Symposium systems with their existing FIREPRO™ RMS solution.

Another integration involved Fire Monitoring Technology International’s Inc.’s OPEN ACCESS™ system. OPEN ACCESS™ is a versatile and innovative system which has been used very successfully by fire departments to improve response times to fires by an average of two full minutes (validated through independent testing), and allows any alarm vendor wishing to participate to feed fire alarm signals directly into the fire department CAD system without requiring the installation of any additional equipment at the fire department. Now, thanks to the new interface, fire alarms received through the OPEN ACCESS™ system at Niagara Falls automatically generate an incident in the Horizon EME, enabling for quicker, safer, and more effective notification and response.

Yet a third integration is with the department’s paging system. Now, critical incident alerts and call information are sent to volunteer personnel directly from the CAD, via their standard-issue alpha numeric pagers. Again, the result is a more rapid, safe, and effective response.

Taken together, these integrations provide a fully coordinated incident response system that ties together the department’s various technologies, reflects their unique needs and workflows, and can be extended in the future to other departments in the region.

Department Very Satisfied with Results

Niagara Falls Fire is very well satisfied with the result. As Fire Chief Pat Burke puts it, “The new Symposium system gives us the control and capability we wanted plus a whole lot more, delivered by a company that is customer-focused, committed to doing the job right, and delivers the goods. Without hesitation, we’re glad we made the switch.”

As a company, we are quite excited about the Niagara Falls project. According to Symposium’s Jeff Connors, “This project really does represent another milestone, in that it continues to show how we work with departments to make CAD implementation simple, straightforward, and painless. We’ve built our business on being responsive and pro-active, and are very proud to be bringing these same advantages to bear for Niagara Falls.”

For more information, or for those interested in seeing the system in action, please contact Symposium by emailing us at info@symposiumtechnologies.com.