Changing face of PPE in fire safety

New technology allows fire departments to get more operational capability out of less fire apparatus, keeping up with a changing scope and decreased staffing

Let’s take a look at what’s trending in fire apparatus and where that trend will likely continue in coming Years and beyond. In my research for this piece, I’ve looked for those fire apparatus developments that struck me as game changers and identified these seven trends. I trust you’ll agree – and submit some of your own as well!

  1. FIRE APPARATUS AS A COMMUNICATIONS HUB

Successful management of emergency incidents is dependent upon reliable on-scene communications and the ability to access information that’s stored in the cloud. This need is becoming increasingly important as more fire departments are using technology for incident command, personnel accountability and pre-fire planning.

A traveling WiFi hotspot on board each emergency response vehicle enhances both the safety and effectiveness of public safety personnel. With WiFi technology, you can:

  • Link emergency response crews to vital information
  • Instantly convert any crew vehicle into a central command unit
  • Easily track the location of all vehicles in your fleet
  1. WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS FOR FIRE APPARATUS OPERATORS

The busiest person on most fire scenes is the fire apparatus operator. Whether it’s the engineer on the first-in pumper or the truckie getting his or her aerial apparatus into a tactical position,wireless headset technology is helping to keep those personnel in the communications loop with the incident commander and the company officer.

  1. APPARATUS DATA RECORDERS

Technology is becoming more prevalent to monitor, record and report chassis and vehicle events in real time, similar to the black box found aboard commercial aircraft. It can also collect information on vehicle operator performance, such as speed, turning and braking forces, all of which can be turned into customizable reports.

In the 2016 edition, NFPA 1901: Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus vehicle data recorders that can capture data to use in promoting safe driving and riding practices were added as a requirement for new fire apparatus (Chapter 4: General Requirements).

This technology provides fire departments with a tool for improving vehicle operator performance, as well as protection from legal exposure in the event of a motor vehicle crash involving fire apparatus.

  1. DRIVING AND CREW AREAS

NFPA 1901 also now requires a warning device that indicates when an occupant in a designated riding position is not wearing a seat belt (though I like the technology, why don’t all firefighters wear their seat belts 100 percent of the time?). Also, all crew cabs on apparatus with a GVWR over 26,000 pounds (11,800 kg) must protect occupants during a crash.

  1. APPARATUS OPERATOR ASSISTANCE TECHNOLOGY

Rosenbauer’s EMEREC Information Management System includes individual modules to aid the fire apparatus operator in getting the rig and the crew to the scene safely, effectively and efficiently. The EMEREC DEVS (Driver Enhanced Vision System)

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