In an excellent article published in the second quarter issue of Fire Protection Engineering magazine titled “Smart Fire Fighting and fire protection” by: Anthony Hamins, Casey Grant, Albert Jones and Nelson Bryner a strong case was made for a quantum leap in managing the fire ground using Information Technology (IT). I could not agree more, in fact I would see IT used in support of not just fire incident management, but for all emergency response: police, fire, medical and all areas of business and government continuity.
Smart use of IT will allow for electronic sensor feedback from the scene, especially improving communications and condition notification. Also, it should be used for the protection of occupants in all built environment by complimenting notification / mass notification systems. However, IT dependence can also result in serious challenges when it fails, which unfortunately at times it will. Our systems developers will need to not only build in reliability and redundancy, but also self-monitoring systems so if a failure occurs, all those on the fire ground will be alerted and can respond by going back to “old school” methods. Fire and emergency responder trainers will need to emphasize to all responders for training in the response techniques based on partial, or no IT support being available.
We are currently using many advanced IT systems in the performance of our military operations. I am calling for a new spirit of government technology dissemination to the public sector similar to the one we saw in the 1980’s by NASA. Military grade technology tends to be more reliable. The lives of emergency responders and all citizens are at stake. We have paid for this military technology with our tax dollars, it should be shared by us worldwide.
Ten years ago I proposed a wireless mesh network be deployed in a chemical plant allowing fire fighter scene command to log into a camera system via vehicular laptop computers allowing them to see critical areas where hazards exist in extremely dangerous concentrations. This is a great first step in this new direction of technology augmentation. However, we must also be mindful of securing this data stream, because in the wrong hands it could be used to perpetrate crime.
I greatly appreciate your comments and likes, Felix
Felix has 40+ years in the life-safety, electronic, and physical security arenas. Additionally, he specializes in business continuity program development and program management. He serves a full spectrum of clients from residential through Fortune 100 companies, and serves as an expert witness in these areas. He is on the Board of Directors serving as Vice-Chair for ASIS International’s Southern Connecticut Chapter, and an active member of the National Eagle Scout Association. Felix is an ASIS International Board Certified CPP, holds an engineering degree in fire protection systems and is a state certified firefighter in Connecticut.