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Wildfires fan the embers of social media

By John Hendricks
Published On: Sep 19 2012 07:24:21 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's John Hendricks reports on how social media and technology are helping on the fire lines.

BEND, Ore. -

The digital age and social media has changed just about every aspect of our lives. Now firefighters are using it when they fight wildfires.

Fire information officers are using everything from Twitter to Flickr to get the word and pictures out about the blaze. On the fire liens, they're using other technology to relay information as quickly as possible.

"I have been working on fires for well over 10 years," Ada Takacs the lead fire information officer on the Pole Creek fire, said Wednesday. "It's one of the best tools, information-wise, I have been given."

Takacs says they are using Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and the InciWeb website to share information and learn about the concerns of the community.

"if there are any rumors out there, we are able to see what those rumors are," said Takacs. "We are able to put messaging out to tell them correct information immediately."

Social media is not the only new big thing around fire camp. Fire officials are also using QR codes. Firefighters can scan the code and bring maps and information with them, anywhere they have a smartphone.

"The days of standing over the hood of a pickup and drawing a map in the dust or in the dirt are over," said Brian Watts the Pole Creek fire incident commander.

Watts says the new technology is saving not only time and money on the ground, but in the air as well.

"(Pilots) carry iPads with them. They can scan all those maps in, so they have all the different maps that they might need," said Watts. "They are able to better communicate with ground resources."

This is the first year this managing team has used these resources. They say it's quickly becoming an indispensable firefighting tool.

"Social media and smartphones aren't going away," said Watts. "In fact, they are becoming more and more prevalent, so we will continue to utilize them."

Pole Creek Fire on Facebook

Pole Creek Fire on Twitter

Pole Creek Fire on Flickr

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