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.
Initiative 8 Resources
- 2016 Fire Service Technology Summit
- Initiative 8 Report – Technology
- 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives Job Aid
Initiative 8 Research
- Kitchen Safety
- Impementing Physiological Monitoring
- A Tale of Two Fires
- Firefighter Research Shows PPE Exposure Risk
- How Clean is Firefighter Gear?
Latest Initiative 8 News
- Can evolving technology improve safety and service? – Technological advances now allow the fire service access to data to improve firefighter safety and delivery of service.
- Moving the fire service along the technology highway – As the world becomes increasingly technologically savvy, can the fire service also put these tools to use to improve safety and health? In July, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) brought together 80 fire service officers, health and science researchers, and developers and manufacturers for the Fire Service Technology Summit to address this question.
- NFFF hosts summit to examine relationship between technology and firefighter health and safety – During breakout sessions, the participants will develop recommendations for improving current technological advancements, informing, educating and training firefighters in existing technologies, and identifying opportunities for collaboration with the technology industry among other goals.
- Could a Tablet Be The Next Step to Keeping Firefighters Safe? – Everything we want and need to manage our daily lives – from appointments and contacts to games and movies – is on our phones or tablets.
- Resolve to reduce line of duty deaths for the New Year – The most important element in firefighter safety is you, the firefighter. Join the NFFF in reducing firefighter injuries and lowering the number of LODDs each year to below 50.