Florida Forest Service equipping firefighters with GPS trackers in wake of Yarnell tragedy

Each crew member can be located in seconds

ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. -- - Moving deeper into wildfire season, firefighters this season are being armed with a new tool that could save their lives on the front line of a fire fight.

The Florida Forest Service is now equipping each of its firefighters with GPS tracking devices.

John Greer, a Florida Forest Service firefighter, said it is east to get disoriented in the woods. One wrong turn he said can be deadly.

"When you're out in the woods, you can't really say make a left at the big pine tree and make a left there," said Greer.

To make sure what happened to 19 Arizona Firefighters who died after becoming trapped does not happen in Florida, the GPS tracking devices will now be used in the field.

Within seconds, a computer monitor at a command post can located the exact spot on the map of a firefighter.
Supervisor Chris Wasil said when a person is battling encroaching flames, seconds can mean life or death. He will now know the location of his entire crew.

"I think it's going to save firefighters. It's definitely a good tool," said Wasil.

Greer said it makes him feel safer as he enter what is expected to be a very dry and active year for fire in Florida.

"I always go into every fire season extra cautious because anything can happen. But it's nice knowing we have an extra tool that can help us," said Greer.

When firefighters travel outside of their assigned county, other agencies within the Florida Forest service in other areas will also be able to track them.

Print this article Back to Top