Bourbon St. brouhaha monitored in real time by fire marshals

Bourbon St. brouhaha monitored in real time by fire marshals

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The chaos of Carnival is getting a different perspective with strategically placed cameras along Bourbon Street rooftops, giving authorities a bird's eye view.

"If you go back 5 to 10 years ago, the technology wasn't there. We had cameras in the area but you didn't have the resolutions that we have today," State Fire Marshal Chief Robert Wolfe said.

Fire inspectors sit tucked a block away from Bourbon Street in their command center, monitoring the cameras for crowd control response. The high-definition cameras rotate 360 degrees, see blocks away and show details of small items even at a distance.

"It's really a modern day way of doing fire code and fire safety enforcement. In addition to that, it's already proven helpful in some incidents that have occurred in the Quarter - in some other crimes. We've been able to assist our other law enforcement agencies," State Fire Marshall Butch Browning said.

"We were blind (before this year)," Wolfe said. "We were totally relying on the street deputies and officers for what was going on."

Fire marshals can also monitor the feed from their cell phones.

"This is where it's at, iPhones, iPads and cameras. That's how we provide safety. The old methods of people are being outweighed by technology," Browning said.

The technology cuts down on response times not only for marshals but for other emergency crews. If marshals see a problem in the command center, they can dispatch emergency responders to an area before a call is ever made.

"We're not overreacting to something. We are reacting appropriately to what we can see, not necessarily what someone is calling and telling us," Browning said.

The cameras do not record unless inspectors see an emergency in progress. One of those emergencies happened Sunday night, when a man knocked a woman unconscious and it was all caught on camera, Wolfe said.

Officers arrested the man, and the woman was taken to the hospital. 
The fire marshals' recording of the incident can be used as evidence.

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