SEASIDE - The Seaside Fire Department has a new tool to help fight fires, thanks to volunteers Benny Davis and Colin Houston.

Davis, a city water department utility worker, and Houston, a Seaside firefighter, developed a Microsoft Access computer program that builds "running cards" - data-filled information sheets - for public and large Seaside buildings. Access database programs are usually used to store and control data.

The cards contain basic information about routes and vehicles used at different fire alarm levels. They also have information specific to the building, including lock box locations, fire hydrants and sprinkler systems. Most other fire departments have a similar information system, Fire Marshal Chris Dugan said.

"I've done other programs for the city with Microsoft Access, so I did the actual physical computer programming and Colin did the pretty work, making it presentable," Davis said. "I just thought it would be a nice thing I could do for the community. I enjoyed doing it."

Fire officers have been using an older DOS program, developed many years ago by Fire Chief Joe Dotson. The new Microsoft program is more efficient and may be put into fire trucks when they begin to come with computers inside. Once all data is entered into the system, it will be printed in book form and a copy will be located in every fire truck. Police dispatchers will also have a copy of the information.

"For a fire officer, this is a very valuable tool," Dugan said. "It gives us guidelines we can use. Our ultimate goal is to protect our community from fire and attack that fire as quickly and efficiently as possible. This program helps us do that."

Eventually, Dugan would like to link Gearhart and Cannon Beach fire departments into the program.

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