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Sanibel fire district rolls out Community Connect

By Staff | Mar 2, 2020

Fire Chief Matt Scott

The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District recently launched a program where residents can input personal information about their household, so fire crews have critical information when arriving on scene.

The district worked with technology partner First Due to implement Community Connect, online software focused on protecting residents and their property during an incident or major disaster. The secure easy-to-use platform allows people to input details about their home to aid first responders.

Fire Chief Matt Scott explained that the district has used a similar program from First Due for the island’s commercial properties for years, while Community Connect is the residential version.

“It’s an information Website for us,” he said.

Scott noted that 70 percent to 75 percent of the district’s call volume is residential.

“It will answer a lot of questions pre-arrival to an incident,” he said of the information residents can select to share. “We can have a lot of information before we get to an incident, that helps us out.”

To utilize Community Connect, residents create a profile, then enter critical property and occupant information. It is all voluntary, and they can decide which information they feel comfortable sharing.

“It’s broken down into six sections,” Scott said.

People can add homeowner’s name and contact information, along with specifics about the residence such as if it has an elevator, a fire sprinkler system, or an above-ground generator or propane tank.

“Stuff that while we’re en route is very important for us to know,” he said.

Residents can share if there is a keyholder, who has the key and how to get ahold of the individual.

There is also a section for functional needs, like if a family member is hard of hearing, has Alzheimer’s or dementia, or is confined to a bed. A section for pets allows for descriptions and even photographs.

“If there is a photo, we can say, ‘Oh look, there’s the cat,'” Scott said. “We know the cat’s safe, we don’t have to go look for the cat.”

There are sections to share access points and utilities information, where the bedrooms are located, general layout of the home, if there is a KnoxBox, shutoff locations for water and electric, and more.

“All the important stuff to know so we’re not searching for that when we get on scene,” he said.

“It saves us time,” Scott added.

Data provided via Community Connect is 100 percent secure and is only used to serve residents during emergencies. The information is made available to the public safety agencies at the time of dispatch.

“The site is very secure,” he said, explaining that it has bank-level encryption.

“The fire district is the only one who would have access,” Scott added.

Island property owners are encouraged to sign up.

“The more information that we have before we arrive on scene, the quicker we’re going to be able to mitigate the situation,” he said. “Whether it be for a medical call or a fire call, it saves us time. We don’t have to go searching for things, we don’t have to ask questions. Time, for us, is very important.”

For more information or to set up a Community Connect account, www.sanibelfire.com or www.firstduesizeup.com/cc/sanibel. For help, stop by Station 171, at 2351 Palm Ridge Road.

“If they come by the station, we can get them set up,” he said.