8. Technology


Utilize available technology wherever it can produce higher levels of health and safety.

A major study conducted in 2006 by the United States Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Association focused on the needs of U.S. fire departments. Where technology is concerned, the fire service is certainly gaining ground, but lags in important indicators. For instance, 24% of fire departments lack internet access, which means they lack access to information about emerging technology and actual web-based technologies. An estimated 60% of fire departments do not have enough self-contained breathing apparatus to equip all firefighters on a shift. Three-fifths (60%) of fire departments have at least some SCBA units that are least 10 years old. An estimated half (48%) of fire departments do not have enough personal alert system (PASS) devices to equip all their firefighters. These are basics, second nature to many of us, and yet we forget that tens of thousands of firefighters are responding everyday dangerously lacking basic levels of safety (USFA, Four Years Later—A Second Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service, 2006).

Regarding new and emerging technology, the USFA/NFPA study found the following:

  • A majority (55%) of fire departments now own thermal imaging cameras, and another one-fourth have plans to acquire them. A previous survey (2001) reported that 24% of departments had such cameras, and the majority of those without them had no plans to acquire one.
  • Only one department in 17 had mobile data terminals (6% of departments, up 4% from 2001), though the majority of fire departments protecting at least 100,000 population have them. Most departments with without mobile data terminals (69% overall) still have no plans to acquire them.
  • Only one department in 31 has advanced personnel location equipment, though one-fourth of the fire departments protecting communities of at least 500,000 population have them.
  • Only one department in 18 has equipment to collect chemical or biological samples for remote analysis, though most of the fire departments protecting communities of at least 100,000 population have such equipment.

Latest Initiative 8 News

  • Fire Stop Tour, January 10-12, 2023 The U.S Fire Administrator and principal leaders from the American fire service, in partnership with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), the Philadelphia Fire Department, and the Washington, D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, will stand together on Jan. 10‑12 to speak with one voice to address the fire problem facing our nation.
    » Watch the Summit Replay
  • NFFF Announces 4th Firefighter Life Safety Summit This important gathering builds on the advances from previous Life Safety Summits in Tampa (FL) and Truman Fire Forums (2019 and 2022) to move firefighter health and safety strategies forward. A keynote speaker for the event is Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, whose in-depth work on command decision-making revolutionized the British Fire Service’s approach to incident command.
  • Erika James to Keynote the 2022 Innovation in Safety Symposium We’re excited to share that Dean Erika James, of the Wharton School, will be giving the keynote address at the Innovation in Safety Symposium on June 29, 2022. The 2022 Innovation in Safety Symposium will feature dynamic speakers like Dean James, panel discussions, TEDs-like presentations, short case studies, and workshops.
  • National Fire Service Research Agenda Report Released Researchers and fire service practitioners met virtually last year for the 4th National Fire Service Research Agenda Symposium resulting in the National Fire Service Research Agenda Report with nearly 300 recommendations.
  • National Firefighter Life Safety Summit 2022 Postponed The National Firefighter Life Safety Summit 2022 Planning Committee has postponed the Summit due to the current impact of the coronavirus pandemic on fire departments across the country. A new date for the Summit will be announced in the upcoming weeks.
  • Fire Hero Learning Network Reaches New Milestone The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is excited to announce that the Foundation’s online learning platform, the Fire Hero Learning Network (FHLN), has reached a milestone of over 130,000 registered users.
  • National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Launches “Legacies in Leadership” Website The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is proud to announce the “Legacies in Leadership” website, which contains thoughts and advice from the past and present fire service leaders to the next generation of fire service influencers.
    » Visit www.legaciesinleadership.com
  • “The Buck Stops Here” – Improving Firefighter and Community Safety More than 70 years later, Truman’s legacy lives on in the form of the Truman Fire Service Working Group. The group’s members are dedicated to preventing fires, advocating for safe communities, and preventing firefighter line-of-duty (LODD) deaths. The report from the Truman Working Group and its partner the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation focuses on promoting firefighter and community safety.
  • Help Shape the Future of the Fire Service The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation will host the National Fire Service Research Agenda Symposium virtually in February and March to prioritize research that promotes firefighter safety, wellness, and efficiency.
  • Promoting a Better Safety Climate for the Fire Service During Global Pandemic, Civil Unrest, and Wildland Fires The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) and the First Responder Center for Excellence (FRCE), once again, collaborated with Firehouse® and published the 2020 Fire Service Health & Safety Report. The 32 page report, which appears in September’s issue of Firehouse®, includes 13 articles written by respected leaders, authors and experts, covering a diversity of topics, including women in the fire service, the power of podcasts in promoting safety and health and changing the very culture of safety among the nation’s fire departments.