Aussie firefighters use Apple Maps app

In a move that should highlight the dangers of letting Apple fanboys anywhere near an IT budget, the Country Fire Authority in Victoria, Australia appears to have placed lives at risk by using the shiny toys of Cupertino.

For some reason, known only to God and St. Eve of Jobs, the authority teams, armed with tablets and iPhones, and using a special FireReady bushfire information app would be more efficient at putting out fires. What could possibly go wrong when you place lives in the hands of Apple? Is Steve Jobs not a caring god who protects those who buy his products, at least for the year before the warranty runs out?

The fire fighters, many of them volunteers, swiftly discovered that the FireReady app was forced to use Apple Maps, and readers might be starting to see a slight problem here. Apple Maps is to mapping what Jackson Pollock is to photorealism. Some towns were located incorrectly and it made it jolly difficult to work out where the fire was once alarm calls were being received.

Users are reporting that towns are located on their maps at the centre of the district rather than on the actual township itself.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, local fire-fighters are facing dangerous situations and having to ring each other up to find out where the fire is.

Of course, Apple would take a fault which puts lives and risk and could result in acres of bush going up in smoke very seriously – right?  Er, no. It is telling the Fire Authority that if they see a mistake in the app to give them a ring and they will sort it out, one at a time, eventually.

Currently the fire authority is saying that FireReady app users with iOS6 installed on their devices should disregard Apple Maps township locations and instead focus on street names and the location of incidents and warnings in relation to their GPS location.

We guess at least that way they get to keep their iPads and iPhones and street cred as Apple fanboys. The fact that the app sends people to the wrong place is only half the story. Apparently it is also slow and crashes.

The CFA itself does not use the app on its website. It uses Google maps and it is recommending that people check with that site before listening to their iPhones.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook warned in September that Apple Maps was not up to snuff – after all, it incorrectly listed the location of Apple’s flagship Sydney store. So it really is the firefighter’s fault for relying on the FireReady app.