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The West Buncombe County Fire Department in North Carolina has installed a new technology in its fire trucks and emergency response vehicles. The system, costing the department $1,300 a year, connects with popular GPS apps Waze and iMAPS when emergency vehicle lights are activated, alerting drivers of the vehicle’s presence. The purpose of the technology is to give drivers advance warning of an emergency vehicle or incident up ahead, improving safety and ensuring drivers move over as required by law.

North Carolina Fire Department Enhances Road Safety with New Technology

In the aftermath of a North Carolina State trooper’s accident on Interstate 40, West Buncombe County Fire Department has implemented new technology in its fire trucks and emergency vehicles to boost road safety. Fire Chief Dennis Fagnant revealed that the system, installed just a month ago, has already alerted 169 drivers of approaching emergency vehicles.

Small black boxes are fitted into the dashboard of each emergency vehicle. These boxes sync with popular GPS phone driving apps — Waze and iMAPS, when the vehicle’s emergency lights are activated. “The software sends a message that says, ‘We’re here,'” Fagnant explained. This technology aims to give drivers advanced warning of an approaching emergency vehicle, encouraging them to move over safely in accordance with North Carolina law.

In just one week, Master Trooper Chris Hall was injured when a truck hit the scene he was attending off exit 20 in Haywood County. “That could be us,” Fagnant said, referring to the incident. Tests conducted by News 13 demonstrated that the iMAPS GPS alerted users at least 20 seconds before a fire truck could be seen on the horizon.

The department plans to install approximately five more devices by next year. The advanced software, named Safety Cloud, was developed by a Hendersonville-based developer who has been at the forefront of creating such products for emergency use. Cars manufactured by Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Ram from 2018 onwards come with the system pre-installed as the Emergency Vehicle Alert System (EVAS) feature.

The system costs the department $1,300 a year, a cost Fagnant deems worthwhile. He noted, “Our lights and our sirens don’t always grab the attention of drivers. But I do know we are very attached to our cell phones.” Fagnant believes the technology is a crucial safety measure for both emergency crews and other drivers on the road.

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