App that warns of fire trucks tested in GR

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Developers have launched the test phase of an app that will sound an alert when Grand Rapids Fire Department crews are near and responding to a call.

With loud music playing and vehicle soundproofing, it can be difficult to hear anything going on outside your car, let alone an emergency vehicles’ sirens down the road. Grand Rapids firefighters say how attentive drivers are to approaching sirens plays a huge role in whether crews get to a scene safely and fast enough.

“Last thing a (fire truck) driver wants to or anybody on this wants to do is injure somebody on the way to an alarm,” GRFD Capt. David Noorman.

So the department turned to the HAAS Alert app. If users download the app, it will tell them through their smartphone or in-car stereo system when an emergency vehicle with sirens activated is nearby, even if the user is playing music or taking a call.

The 60-day pilot program for the app in Grand Rapids was launched Thursday. Uber drivers and a small group of others in the community are participating.

Haas Alert is also launching in Chicago, where it was born.

Cory Hohs, the CEO of HAAS Alert, said he came up with the idea after a near miss while riding his motorcycle.

“I had my helmet on. I was going through an intersection in Chicago and I was nearly hit by an ambulance coming across traffic,” he said. “Had its lights and sirens on and I just didn’t hear it.”

It spurred him to action.

“Once we dug in and started looking at the numbers, we realized how expensive this issue is, how many incidents actually happen every year,” Hohs said.

Haas Alert received $20,000 through Seamless, a startup investment firm in Grand Rapids, to fund the test period.

At the end of the pilot period in Grand Rapids, HAAS and GRFD will make changes to the app based on user feedback. Developers are working to make the app compatible with cars’ dash systems.

You can test out the app at HAASAlert.com.

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