Frequently asked Questions
Where did the FIT-Notes design originate?
FIT-Notes is designed to replicate what you are currently doing with any of the manual accountability systems in use today. This includes paper and pencil, grease pencil, dry erase boards, magnetic boards or Velcro boards. The intent was to provide an electronic alternative with as little training as possible. So the original design concept was to create an electronic system that would closely replicate the current system but add those features than come with the use of computers like timers, automated tasks, automatic record of the event, adding photos and many others.
Does FIT-Notes use Drag and Drop?
No, we do not use this programming option. It was shown that the point and click method worked better and did not seem to create the errors or mistakes that the Drag and Drop method did.
How does the Point and Click method work?
All unit movement is done on the Move Unit screen. On this screen, you simply select the unit you wish to move and click on the button with the name of the area where you want the unit to go. There are limits where you can move a unit but they follow what is normally done in moving units from Base or Staging into the field. To move units out of the field you simply select the unit and right-click to see the available options. You then select what you want from the list.
Will FIT-Notes work on a touch screen computer?
It is designed for this option and almost everything will work flawlessly using the touch screen. What we have found is that even if you have a touch screen computer it is more convenient to use a mouse since we tend to have the computer monitor too far from us to make it convenient. This allows us to use the work-space in front of us for other things like radios, pagers, cell phones, maps, drinks, helmets and other things we just seem to have in our hands.
If I closed this incident, could I go back to it?
Yes, you can go back to it with no loss of data. All unit movement is tracked in the database using the system clock. So if you accidentally closed your incident or possibly your battery went dead as it was not plugged in, you could simply plug in the power cord, and restart your computer. Once you started the program it allows you to re-open the previous incident. Once this is done, you are back to exactly where you would have been had the computer not quit including all your timers.
What is timed in the program?
There are three different timers used within the program: The first is the incident timer, the second is the PAR or Roll Call timer and the last is the Unit timer. The Incident timer is started when you start the program and continues until it is ended or you turn this option off. It notifies you that the incident has gone on for XX minutes and this repeats until you turn it off or you mark the incident as Defensive where the timer is no longer important and is turned off automatically. The Roll Call timer is also started when the program starts and notifies you that it is time for a Roll Call at the predetermined time you entered as part of the program setup. The Unit timer does exactly that, it times each unit when they are in Groups, Divisions or Sectors that are involved in extinguishing the fire where an SCBA is worn.
How does the program show the Incident Timer?
On the left side of the Main page of FIT-Notes there is a rectangle that runs up the page. There is one box in the rectangle for each minute of the timer. In the setup program you select the amount of time for the timer from 5 to 30 minutes in 5 minute segments. If you select a 15-minute timer then each of the first 5 boxes (minutes) is shown in green, the second 5 boxes (minutes) shown in yellow and the last 5 boxes (minutes) shown in red. This allows the user to keep tabs on the timer by simply looking at the screen.
How does FIT-Notes time each unit in their Division?
Each Division/Group/Sector is shown on the Main screen as a rectangle with the name of the area. Each of these starts out as a gray button. Once any unit has been there for 10 minutes the button back-color changes to yellow and once any unit has been there for 15 minutes, the button back-color changes to red. The color always goes to the unit that has been there the longest. This methodology allows the users to keep track of the air supply for each unit on-scene simply by looking at the Main screen.
Do you allow for splitting units into Team A and Team B?
Yes, a system to do this is provided. You can simply select the unit in any area of the Move Unit screen, right click on it and select “Make Team A-B”. In order to combine Team A and B you select either team and right click and select “Combine Team A-B”.There is no requirement to use this option and if your department does not do this, then you would simply not make these selections.
Does the use of Passports or other local manual systems get eliminated with the use of FIT-Notes?
The use of local manual systems like Passports or dog-tags, should not be discontinued. They can be used in tandem with FIT-Notes to provide each Division, Group or Sector with the names and units of all the personnel under their control. They are useful and necessary to the members in charge of these different areas. Without these the Division supervisor in charge of Division 3 would not know if all members were accounted for during any PAR or Roll Call. We simply would not stand for that and therefore these manual systems are still vital. Additionally, if for some reason you do not have your computer or it fails, these systems become a major part of your backup system.
Does FIT-Notes include the drawings for the building on fire on the Main screen of the program?
No. There is an option to select a representation of the building but not the actual building diagram. The reason for this is the concept of screen space. If all buildings were 200 feet by 200 feet this would be possible, but with the wide range of sizes it is simply impossible to properly show all buildings their actual size so this objective was rejected. With the inclusion of information from a pre-fire program the need for the exact building diagram no longer exists.
Is there a permanent record made during the incident?
Yes, there is a permanent record kept of everything that occurs during the course of the incident. This is kept in two places, the database and in an ASCII text file in a separate location. This is done so that you have this data available for easy transfer into other programs like NFIRS. You can simply open the ASCII file and copy all the data and paste it into your NFIRS report. This means that you have this data available should you ever get called to court regarding this incident. It also documents the incident for further use.
What is the purpose of the 3 firefighter icons on the top left corner of the main page?
We call these helpers. When FIT-Notes was being developed we went to departments where the chiefs had assistants. We asked them to tell use what they did as they started to track resources via their manual system. They pretty much agreed on the items they needed and FIT-Notes was designed to replicate those procedures. When you select each of these helper icons, another window opens and you select: Where is North on the screen, notes the location of any exposures and select the number of stories and basements in the building. After you use the helper, it goes away and these functions can be found under "Show" on the menu bar if you need to update these items.
Can I enter my own data into the permanent record?
Yes, you can enter data one line at a time by simply pushing the F2 key or under Help. This opens a small window where you can enter one line of data at a time. If you hit the keyboard Enter key the data is entered and you can type in another line of data. When you are finished you simply select the OK key.
I usually note what each unit is doing in each division. How do you handle this requirement in FIT-Notes ?
On the Move Units screen, if you select a unit in any interior Division/Group/Sector you will see an option for “Assignments”. If you move the mouse over this you will see the available Unit assignments. You simply select the one you want for that unit. Now when you go to the Main screen and click on that Division/Group/Sector you will see all of the units in that area along with how long they have been there, and their assignment. There is also an option on the top bar under “Help” where you can select an F-key and it will show you all units and their assignments.
Is there a means provided to allow me to see what each unit did during the event?
Yes this is automatically done for each incident. This file is kept in an ASCII format and it is kept in the same location as the ASCII Notes file. This record shows all unit movement by each unit along with the timeframe. So it starts with engine 1, then engine 2 and so on, until all units on-scene are documented. This allows the user to review unit movement for every incident.
How closely does FIT-Notes follow NIMS?
FIT-Notes is designed around NIMS and follows all of the conventions called out in this document. It also allows those areas who use FGC or other Incident Management Systems to modify the system to closely replicate their system.
Are the personnel names shown in FIT-Notes?
Yes, they are shown but only if they have been entered for each unit. At the beginning of each work shift the names of the members must be entered onto each available unit. This takes about 10 seconds so this means that it takes less than one minute for each unit.
If I have FIT-Notes loaded on four computers, do I need to make all these personnel entries on each computer?
No, you would only enter it on one and then you would send it to the other computers where they simply replace the FITnotes.MDB file. The data is stored in this database. This is true of other items like adding new personnel, or changing ranks or names of the personnel. You only update one database and then share it with the other units.
Are radio numbers shown for each person on each unit?
Yes, they are shown but only if they have been entered for each member. At the beginning of each work shift the member and their radio number is entered for each responding position. In most cases the radio stays the same for the position. The officer on engine 1 had radio #3450 yesterday and when we update the unit record with a new officer the radio stays the same. It can be changed just as easily as the member can be changed if this is needed.
Names and radio numbers are shown for each Unit, but is there a way to see a member’s photos?
Yes, this is also included. The member’s photos are show in two locations, first is on the Move Unit screen when you select “Show Crew” in any location. This form shows the Unit, the ID number for the member, the name and rank, the radio number and their photo if it is available. The second place is on the search form. When you search for a member you can enter their ID number, their name, or their radio number and the outcome for will show you the data on where they are and how long they have been there and their photo if it is available.
Does FIT-Notes integrate with any pre-fire companies?
Yes, we have agreements with both CAD Zone which produces First Look Pro, and Group One which produces Remote Access. In each case, the pre-fire program produces a file that FIT-Notes looks for each time it opens. If the file is there then FIT-Notes opens it and loads the data into FIT-Notes. This creates a seamless integration of the programs.
How easy is it to locate any member on-scene?
If you know the member’s ID number, or the members name or partial name, or their radio number, you can locate that member in about 6 seconds using the F6 key or select "Locate by ID#, Name, Radio#" under Help.
With each firefighter having a radio, should they push their Emergency button during an emergency, can you locate this member?
Yes, this can be done in about 6 seconds. You open the Locate form, enter the radio number and click OK. This gives you the member’s: ID number, Rank, Name, current location, how long they have been there, and their photo. All of this is made available in about 6 seconds.
We have a list of objectives that we expect the IC to accomplish at every structure fire. Is there a way to make this available in FIT-Notes?
Yes, this is already built into the system. You simply go to Priorities and select the list. The list allows you to enter up to 10 objectives. It also keeps track of which ones have been accomplished along with who completed the item. This is also entered into the permanent record.
Photos are sometimes taken on the fire-ground. Is there a means of storing and or using these photos as part of the program?
Yes you can enter photos into FIT-Notes and view them in a much larger format than is available on any digital camera. The photos are copied from your data source (camera or digital media) into FIT-Notes. Then they are ready for viewing. The best is a camera with a time and date feature so that you would have a running record of the photos.
Does FIT-Notes allow you to move an incident from one computer to another computer like when a command bus is utilized in place of the IC’s vehicle?
Yes, you can easily move the incident from one computer to the second one. This entails only copying the database and the incident directory onto a thumb drive and moving these to the host computer and restarting the program. When this is done, all the data is moved and the incident is seamlessly moved to the second computer. During the time of the move, the initial IC still uses the first computer to run the incident. Any moves that occur during this 3-4 minute timeframe must be updated once the program is run on the second computer.
During incidents it is common to use more than one radio channel. Is there any provision in FIT-Notes to keep track of these radio channels?
Yes, this is included. Once the incident is started, you go to “Features” and select “Communications Plan”. Then you simply select the appropriate Division/Group/Sector and select the appropriate radio channel or frequency. You can select two Channels, two Frequencies and two cell phone numbers. On the Main screen, when you select the Division it now includes the radio information you selected. You can only add phone information for a Division/Group/Sector and not for a specific unit.