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Firefighters get tech update
fire equip pic
Turlock Fire Capt. Kain Packwood demonstrates the ease of use on the departments new Mobile Data Computers. - photo by SABRA STAFFORD / The Journal

When a call came in Thursday of a fire at a Turlock apartment complex the responding firefighters had all the information they needed at hand with just a touch of the screen.

The Turlock Fire Department recently outfitted five fire engines and one battalion chief vehicle with new Mobile Data Computers. The new system comes with some of the latest mapping technology and programs that are designed to improve safety, response times and provides valuable information about the situations firefighters rush into.

The new MDCs replace the previous MDCs that the fire department had gotten second-hand from the Turlock Police Department eight years ago.

Fire Chief Tim Lohman said the old units were well past their lifespan and were increasingly unreliable as they experienced more and more breakdowns. The units also lacked a mapping program, which left firefighters thumbing through bulky binders while en route to a call.

The purchase price of the MDCs was funded by the Assistance to Firefighters Grant that the Modesto Fire Department was awarded on behalf of all of Stanislaus County.

Through the grant, which required a 20 percent match, the Turlock Fire Department was able to get almost $40,000 worth of equipment for $8,957, Lohman said.

The new units come with a geographic information system that allows the incident commander to view parcel and satellite images of the area. The system also puts information like evacuation routes, property details, hydrant locations, the proximity of additional units and potential hazards at the tip of the firefighters' fingers.

“It is totally user-friendly and has everything that we need,” said Turlock Fire Capt. Kain Packwood. “With this system we can develop a plan of attack while en route to the call.”

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.