SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – The Spartanburg City Fire Department is using a new tool to help crews respond to fires and the fire marshal said they need the community’s help to use it.

“The idea is just for us to interact with the community,” said fire marshal William Smart. “It’s just a direct link from the community to us and us to the community in regard to pertinent information about your home.”

Smart said a new program called ‘Community Connect‘ will build better bonds with people who live in the city. He said it allows people to share information about their homes, which helps firefighters better protect people who live in the city and their property.

“The biggest thing we want is obviously their information: their name, contact information, and emergency contact information,” said Smart.

On Community Connect, people can share their contact, the number of people and pets who live at their home, floor plans, special directions, and more.

“We may know the resident’s name before we ever get there, we may know where they’re located in the home, we may know how to get in there to them via key or a certain door,” said Smart.

Now, they’re encouraging people to sign up. At an open house during fire prevention week in October, they had some of the first residents get connected.

“We had approximately 120 city residents, city families come to the open house and about half of those people registered for community connect that day,” said fire engineer Trent Inman.

Still, he said that’s only a small percentage of people who live in Spartanburg.

“The system shows about 13,000 residents,” said Inman.

They said this information can help during an emergency when every second counts. If there’s a fire at your home, firefighters can easily access the information you input into the system.

“We have iPads on our truck to be able to access the data with an app on the iPad. We can pull it up as we go, the calls populate in there from the com center so it’s easy for us to access it and get that information on the go,” said Inman.

Smart said it will give crews a heads-up and will help them better serve the community.

“It better prepares our first responders coming in, the first, second, and third companies coming in. They can kind of better prepare them for the job and task at hand that they may have,” said Smart.

Smart said it’s free to sign up for Community Connect, but people must live within city limits. He also said any information you input into the system can only be viewed by the fire department. He said information is protected and encrypted, similar to online banking systems.

People can sign up for the program online.