Jarrod Gruber - Captain at Pensacola Fire Department

Jarrod Gruber - Captain at Pensacola Fire Department

Wednesday, 06 April 2022 08:21

“Two things firefighters hate the most are the way things are, and change." - Jarrod Gruber - Captain | Pensacola Fire Department

Jarrod Gruber has been a firefighter for almost thirty years. He began his career as a volunteer and has since risen to the rank of captain for the Pensacola Fire Department. PFD operates six fire stations in a city of over 50,000 residents, encompassing over forty square miles.

Gruber is an active user and advocate of StreetWise® after our system revolutionized the way his department operates. Having been a StreetWise customer since nearly the beginning, we wanted to get his perspective on how PFD has benefited from our system. 


How Using StreetWise® Helped The Pensacola Fire Department

Jarrod Gruber was frustrated with the clunky laptops and mobile software designed for police departments because they simply did not work for his fire department. He was so frustrated that he was actually in the process of trying to develop his own solution when he learned about StreetWise. He realized it did everything he needed it to do, and he wouldn’t need to reinvent the wheel after all. 

Pensacola Fire Department became the fourth official StreetWise client and has been with us for about eight years. All six PFD stations use our system to this day, and Gruber continues to share how effective it is with other departments. We are grateful to have helped solve some of their most pressing issues. 

Pensacola Fire Department’s Challenges with The Old System

“Before tablets, our guys took the time to make card boxes with giant recipe-type cards, and it was literally turn-by-turn directions from the station to every address in the city.” - Jarrod Gruber.

Of course, Gruber’s team had a system for responding to calls and navigating the city. Even when they had access to laptops, they found it easier to develop a paper-and-pen process that involved creating a Rolodex of index cards for every address in the city. This was a time-consuming and tedious process, but it worked until it didn’t. 

Eventually, Gruber says, things change, and the cards become out-of-date. Paper gets old, smudged, and deteriorates over time. Still, their index card system worked better than the clunky old laptops they were using. 

Issues with their old technology included:

  • The software was obviously designed for police departments, not fire and EMS
  • They could see calls but not their navigation at the same time
  • The system used Windows Streets’ navigation system instead of something familiar like Google Maps
  • It was entirely too easy for the laptops to lose connectivity at crucial moments
  • When the systems failed, department personnel had to become their own IT departments 
  • The system was ultimately more trouble than it was worth and failed to raise situational awareness

However, switching to StreetWise would not prove to be the easiest sell to the rest of Gruber’s team. While firefighters (and people in general) do not like the way things are when they are not working, they often hate any kind of change. 

Many of his firefighters did embrace the new software, but others were not so sure something different would fix their issues. 

What Happened When Pensacola Fire Department Switched to StreetWise

While he would estimate that about half of his team were skeptical about making a move to StreetWise, it took no time at all to get everyone on board. According to Gruber, it helped that the StreetWise tablets and software just work. He can’t remember the last time he had an issue with our products. 

As one might imagine, firefighting hardware goes through a lot over the course of its lifespan. In the event a tablet gets broken; however, it is considerably less expensive to replace. At the same time, in Gruber’s experience, they are less susceptible to damage than the larger laptops. 

Another benefit of StreetWise’s system is that they rarely, if ever, lose connectivity. By utilizing mobile networks, using the many features of the CADlink MDT Software is not limited to just when a VPN or Wi-Fi hotspot can be accessed. 

The incident preplan templates have made their index-card-Rolodex system obsolete. Now, they have more information at their fingertips whenever they need it. 

The countless hours formerly spent on handwriting numerous addresses and property information on multiple cards can now be spent on life-saving training and raising situational awareness.  

The ease of use is the biggest advantage for PFD. Because people are generally quite familiar with Google maps and using mobile applications, it takes no time at all for most firefighters to implement our system. For Gruber, it took hardly any time at all to turn the StreetWise skeptics into believers. 

How Your Department Can Get StreetWise

Would your fire department stand to benefit from seamless mobile apparatus software? Of course, it would. Captain Jarrod Gruber has given his full stamp of approval to StreetWise’s suite of software and easy-to-use mobile tablets. Still, we believe in this system enough to provide you with a free demonstration

Contact StreetWise for more information about how your department can get away from laptops and software designed for police officers and begin using a system that actually works for firefighters. We would be happy to answer your question and help you get started.