Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District tunes up its PCs: case study

Published:  19 April, 2010

Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District relies on an award-winning PC tune-up suite designed to fix, speed up and maintain PCs so they run like new forever.

Located about 35 miles northwest of Chicago, the Round Lake area is a suburban region with a mix of residential, light commercial, and agricultural use. The region includes a civil airport and encompasses two rail lines that may carry hazardous materials. Emergency response is provided by the Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District (GRLFPD), which serves six municipalities and parts of Lake County, Illinois. Protecting nearly 60,000 residents in 16 square miles, its three firehouses run round-the-clock shifts every day of the year, operated  Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District Station by 65 staff and fire fighter/paramedics.

IT systems are an essential part of GRLFPD’s daily operations. The department makes use of 50 PCs running Windows XP Professional (of which 17 are mobile) to run firehouse applications, business software, and dispatch operations. To accommodate varying shift personnel and response situations, any user may log on to any available computer at any time, with the result that some PCs may have up to 50 individual user profiles. Each computer also has access to response-related information such as district maps, site-specific plans, HazMat storage, and the Internet for responding to calls in and around their fire district.

While paper documents are always available as a backup, technology plays a critical role in reducing response times and improving decisions made under life-threatening conditions. Doug Lawson, Administrative Officer (and IT manager) for GRLFPD puts it in perspective: “Our job is to preserve life and property. Every piece of equipment is expected to be immediately available and function properly. Our technology has to meet the same criteria – it must work as well and as hard as any other equipment we have, or it might as well be a door stop!”

As is common with mid-sized organizations, part of GRLFPD’s challenge is to maintain its high operational standards while living within the available budget. From an IT perspective this is accomplished by improving the performance of existing PCs and thus extending their usable life cycle, rather than resorting to a complete hardware change-out. “Getting the most for our budget money is a big concern for me as our budget will continue to tighten for some time,” Doug stated.

With this objective in mind, Doug put iolo’s System Mechanic to the test on an older model ‘worst-case-scenario’ PC with minimal RAM and a slower CPU. He was extremely pleased with the system improvement he saw and began using System Mechanic on all departmental machines. Doug was very impressed with the ease of installation, even across the wide range of PC brands and models the fire district uses.

Doug said “System Mechanic made an immediate and noticeable performance difference to the people who matter most – my user community. Without me saying anything, firefighters would ask, ‘wow, what did you do to the computer?’

“With the performance improvement System Mechanic provides, Windows XP now continues to run very well and meet our needs. I basically bought us more time with our existing PCs and we are not forced to make the jump immediately to another operating system.”

He also noted that he is saving a considerable amount of time due to the automation of many routine maintenance tasks, so much so that he relies on System Mechanic as his ‘software right-hand assistant’ to keep things running while he is busy with other issues. This is important to him because IT systems are only one of the hats he wears – as a certified firefighter and EMT he also is occasionally called to respond to emergency calls!

Doug summed it up by saying: “I am very careful about what I select. There are lots of tools, registry cleaners, tune-up applications and so forth on the market. System Mechanic is the one I chose as it lets me see so much more about my machines and helps me better manage my hardware and software environment. System Mechanic does exactly what it says it will, and with iolo’s regular product updates I have confidence that it will address new issues that may come up.”

  • Operation Florian

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