Can evolving technology improve safety and service?

New report from NFFF provides recommendations for next steps

Technological advances now allow the fire service access to data to improve firefighter safety and delivery of service. For example, incident commanders can now monitor personnel’s location and wellness because of microchips and sensors in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). Such innovations have far-reaching advantages, but is the fire service leveraging current technology and planning for the future of what will be available?

To examine these issues and encourage action, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) has released the report from the 2016 Fire Service Technology Summit. The summit brought together 80 fire service officers, health and science researchers, and developers and manufacturers. “We were very proud to be the major event sponsor of the Technology Summit,” said Anthony J. Turiello, CEO of Rescue Air Systems. “The value of leveraging innovation in fire service technology cannot be overstated.”

The attendees worked together to identify critically important recommendations for improving the use of current and evolving technology. “The attendees, with vastly different perspectives on technology, focused on understanding how rapidly developing tools have the potential to improve our capabilities on the fire ground, as well as impact firefighter health and safety,” noted Dr. Gavin Horn, Research Program Director for the Illinois Fire Service Institute and Summit Planning Team Lead Member. The 2016 Fire Service Technology Summit Report highlights the following goals:

  1. Recommend technological advancements that the fire service can use to decrease the risk of firefighter injuries and fatalities.
  2. The fire service should play a pro-active role in collaborating with manufacturers in creating new technology.
  3. Identify methods to inform, educate and train firefighters in existing technologies.
  4. Identify mechanisms for the technology industry to collaborate with the fire service in the transfer of emerging technologies to fire service use.
  5. Establish potential diverse funding opportunities to meet the identified technological needs of the fire service.

“The discussions at the summit and the resulting report illustrate that collaboration between all parties is critical if we are to maximize the potential for better equipment, training and communication,” explained Chief Ron Siarnicki, Executive Director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. “The opportunities to expand our partnerships and improve safety and performance are tremendous.”