5 Quick Tips to a Better Map of your Fire Scene

By Dan Curran on August 25, 2014

Using our five quick tips will ensure that you have more detailed and professional looking map of your fire scene. You will convey more information about your scenes, and provide a higher quality training scenario for your department. If you are just getting started with IncidentSmart, check out the Getting Started Guide and download a copy of the Quick Reference Guide.

1. Label your Apparatus

Putting a label with the unit designation on top of your apparatus is the best way to identify equipment at a glance. When performing post-incident analysis, this gives a clear view of where each unit was deployed.

Engine with a unit designation

2. Make legends

A legend can help convey information about a complex incident scene.

One good use of a legend is to label your hose lines.

Legend for labeling hose lines

To make a legend like the one above, simply place hose on the map with 0 bends, and add labels next to each. This legend can make a what might appear to be a chaotic scene easily understandable.

3. Duplication to save effort

There may be elements in your map that require exact or nearly exact images.

A common example is placing hydrants on the same side of the street, apparatus in a specific configuration, or a row of similar houses.

Showing duplicate trucks, and houses

To duplicate an object, double-click on the object you want to duplicate, and then select the duplicate option. This saves the time of re-orienting each image individually.

4. Create Advanced Buildings

Buildings on your map can be as basic as a 4-sided box. Or you can use multiple structures to create more detailed building layouts, which is particularly valuable when creating a pre-incident plan. Below we describe a few tips for creating standard architectural elements that you may want to reflect in your maps.

A peaked roof can be made by creating a structure that is half the size of your target building. Suppose you have a 40x40 building, and want to show a peaked roof. Create a 40x20 structure, place it, then duplicate it, and put it right next to the original.

Building with a peaked roof

A dormer can be shown on your building by placing two smaller structures next to each other. Each section being a 2x5 or a 3x5.

Building with a dormer

Porches can be added by following a similar approach to a dormer. In our example the porch is 6x8.

Building with a porch

All of these techniques can be combined to make a complex building.

The interior tools can also be used to create advanced interior layouts. Walls, doors, couches, stairs and beds allow a lot of flexibility for creating great looking scenes.

Building with an advanced interior

5. More accurate roads

The road tool is versatile.

Making a single lane road without a dividing line is an excellent way to show a driveway for a single-family residence. Larger roads can be used to show commercial driveways, or even parking lots.

Scene with a parking lot and a driveway

Two roads overlapping each other make nice looking intersections.

An Intersection with two overlapping roads

Divided roads and highways can be made by creating two parallel roads. Additional roads can be added in the middle to show where the roads connect.

A divided road


These tips are effective and have been used to display complex scenes.

Try them out on your next map, or update your existing maps to make them even more descriptive.

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