Incident command (IC) involves the efficient management of manpower and resources at an emergency. To acheive this, Ohio-based Halcyon Products, Inc. has introduced what amounts to a portable on-scene office to help incident commanders keep their emergency response organized.
Steve Nash, Halcyon's chief operating officer and vice president of product development, is a firefighter with 23 years experience. Halcyon's Mobile Command Post is the result of several years of research conducted prior to Halcyon's founding in July 2004.
"We took all the feedback we received and boiled it down to what I think is the perfect unit for any fire department," Nash said.
The advantages of a portable work station for incident commanders have long been recognized. At first, departments could offer their chiefs little more than folding card tables adapted to the purpose. The Halcyon Mobile Command Post combines a number of IC neccesities into one package, such as:
? A dry erase whiteboard and magnet board for easy diagramming of the situation and for formulating an attack plan.
? A solid work area, large enough for a laptop and writing surface.
? A large compartment for storing files, communications equipment and other field items.
? Legs for setting up the mobile command post wherever required.
? Wheels for added portability.
? A battery powered light for night time operations.
"There are other companies making products like this, but some of them are quite overbuilt," Nash said. "What we intended to do was come up with something that was completely portable and a lot less expensive that would do the same thing."
The Halcyon product measures one foot by 1? feet by 3 feet in its heavy-duty carrying case, Nash said. The case is small enough to fit in a trunk or behind the jump seat in a fire engine. Fully deployed, the writing surface stands at waist level.
"If you're the incident command on scene then you're the coach," Nash said. "This is what you bring to support the team."
The basic unit sells for about $750, Nash said. With a special command package that includes a command vest, command flag and other items, plus delivery, the cost is under $1,000, he said.
"Basically, everything is handmade," Nash said. "This is not an item that is mass produced outside the country and then shipped in. The units are outfitted in our shop in Cleveland where a lot of attention is paid to detail."
Customers may chose to have the units further modified after they are purchased.
"We were talking to a customer at a power plant who was talking about putting radios into his command post," Nash said. "If a customer has an application that requires 10 to 20 units we will custom fit per that specification. But this particular customer only wanted a few units so I suggested that he take it to his own radio provider and have it outfitted there."
Aside from his work with Halcyon, Nash is a battailon chief in Solon, OH, a Cleveland suburb with about 22,000 population.
"I've had a command role in the fire service for quite some time," Nash said.
Halcyon's second product for the fire service is a self-contained burn pan for use in fire extinguisher training. The unit is specifically designed to be used in compliance with OSHA 1910.157 (g) (1) which states that "where the employer has provided portable fire extinguishers for employee use in the workplace, the employer shall also provide an educational program to familiarize employees with the general principles of fire extinguisher use and the hazards involved with incipient stage fire fighting."
The Halcyon burn pan includes:
? A deep stainless steel pan that contains the controlled fire while providing long product life with no rust.
? Quick disconnects for easy set up and tear down that also provide additional security, limiting the supply of propane to the burning element.
? A drain in the bottom for easy clean up and disposal of water.
? Sturdy supports for set up on any flat surface.
"Our idea again was to make something that was useful, portable and much less expensive than similar products," Nash said. "We were able to do that."
The burn pan measures 3 feet by 3 feet and stands about 1? feet off the ground. It utilizes the customer's down 20-pound propane cylinder. The propane is bubbled through hot water inside the pan so there is no open element involved.
"That gives it a little more safety factor," Nash said.
The pan retails for under $2,000 and is only sold to certified fire departments or fire extinguisher training services.
"We've had a lot of good feedback from our early customers but we have made a couple of changes," Nash said. "We are adding a dead man valve that the operator has to hold open for a continuous gas flow. If the operator drops the valve or sees something going wrong the flow of gas immediately stops."
Nash describes himself as the "nuts and bolts guy" of the two-man Halcyon management team. His partner, president and CEO John C. Moore, brings expertise in e-commerce marketing to the company.
"We sell direct," Nash said. "Most of our business is on-line."
Halcyon has at least 10 other products to service the fire, EMS, law enforcement, military and sports markets that it hopes to introduce soon.
"I have a whole list of items that I hope to bring to market very soon," Nash said. "These first two were just our first out of the starting gate."
For more information about Halcyon products, visit their website at www.halcyonproducts.com.