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Deaths Prompt Officials to Increase Technology in Fire Trucks, EMS

Commissioners want to make sure firefighters have the tools they need to get to the scene of a fire as quickly as possible.

FREDERICK, Md. - A fire that killed two little girls last year prompted Frederick County Commissioners to increase technology in fire trucks and ambulances in hopes of preventing another tragedy in the future.

Commissioners want to make sure firefighters have the tools they need to get to the scene of a fire as quickly as possible.

"What prompted this is last year we had an incident where we had fire companies responding to several locations, and they all had different locations. Some of them didn't make it. They got lost. One of them was actually trying to turn around and ran off the road," said Billy Shreve, (R) - Frederick County commissioner.

Two little girls, Madigan and Sophie Lillard, tragically died in that fire. That prompted commissioners to unanimously vote to put computer tablets on 132 county fire trucks and add software and docking stations to laptops on 40 county ambulances.

"It's almost like an electronic co-pilot, so as the driver is going to the event, the person in the passenger's seat can look at this tablet, and it tells them directions, it tells them topography, it tells them what is around the area, where there's water to hook up to, those kinds of things," Shreve said.

A garage fire along the 9000 block of Grape Creek Road in Walkersville broke out around 10 a.m. Thursday. Luckily, no one got hurt, and firefighters put the blaze out within 10 minutes. The deputy fire chief says the fire could have been a lot worse and spread to the rest of the house if first responders didn't get to the home quickly. He thinks the mobile devices could help outcomes like this continue in the county.

"I called 911. I called the fire in. We got a quick start on it from the very get go, and units for here pretty quickly," said Deputy Chief Chad Barrick, with the Walkersville Volunteer Fire Company.

Commissioners hope crews can respond quickly to other fires in the county by investing $450,000 into this new technology.

"It's basically a high-end GPS specific to fire and rescue," Shreve said.

The tablets for the fire engines will cost $3,150 each, and the software and docking stations for the ambulances will cost $950 for each unit.

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