New Technology Same Old Inferno!!!
Julian Ybarra, Journalist
(Tucson, Arizona – May 16, 2017) The history of firefighting dates back centuries to when firefighting was more of a service from insurance companies who could afford to hire someone to watch the property in case of fire. They had water wagons pulled by horses, dozens of men were using hand held pumps to extinguish the fire, and wore wool clothing that is more resistant to water for less likely to catch fire as cotton. About a 100 years ago firefighters had access to the first automobiles that were outfitted to fit their needs, but it still took a few decades to standardize the fire industry with fire engines.
As we look forward into the fire industry there are things that make leaps and bounds, others that are conceptualized but never fully developed. New technology for firefighters is always a good thing to consider take for instance thermal imaging masks by Scott Safety. At this time last year the Raytown Fire Department in Raytown, Missouri were able to purchase new, Scott Sight, SCBA face masks with thermal imaging embedded in the masks. Typically a person would hold a thermal imaging camera and guide fellow firefighters through smoke and debris. Scott Sight allowed them to free up their hands while searching the area for hot spots, and to identify people as well without putting down the hose. This product should revolutionize the search and rescue process if every firefighter were able to have one. Scott Sight masks are not cheap, running at about 1900 USD with a 2 year warranty, the mask includes.
- SCBA facemask
- Additional Mask Weight – 8 ½ ounces
- Fits any AV-3000 HT face-piece
- Hands free thermal imaging
- Video Display – 160×120 resolution and 9 frames per second.
- Auto-dimming – When conditions are darkest you won’t blinded by the light.
- Infinity lens – Ensures a clear picture with no eyestrain.
- Adjustable display – Configurable to your line of sight
- Four hour battery life
- Powered by AAA batteries.
- Max or Ambient temperature settings (F or C) – user configurable.
- Four-user configurable screen options
- Suspend display – temporarily powers down the display to reduce distraction
- NIOSH Certified to NFPA 1981, 2013 ed, NIOSH 42CFR Part 84, UL 913 6th ed, ATEX, IECEx and IP 66/67
In addition to masks, hoods are also an important tool to protect the firefighter from toxic chemicals and lethal gases that are released from new building materials during a fire. Honeywell’s Life Guard Hood is the latest in hood piece technology to replace current knit hoods. This revolutionary design is lighter, comfortable, is laboratory proven to block carcinogenic particulates as well as integrates with with your self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and turnout gear. Very convenient that these technologies happen to appear in the same article, as if you can mix and match them.
Why does Life Gourd Hood matter? Well your area of the body from the shoulder, neck, jaw, and head are more susceptible to absorbing toxins, and can have damaging consequences over time. In the life of a firefighter being exposed to toxic gases and chemicals on an annual basis results in cancers like Mesothelioma.
Even if there is no blaze to battle, firefighters still participate in search and rescue operations from structural failures, mudslides, avalanches, and other emergency situations. Tech that allows them to find people in distress such as life detectors are greatly helpful. Leader Scan by Leader North America, is such a device that with a UWB (ultra-wide band) system capable of detecting and locating the slightest chest movements from breathing. The UWB technology can find live victim’s up to 98 feet in buried rubble.
Looking at where we’ve come from and where we are going the populous could appreciate the level of sophistication firefighting has become. It would be nice to see all these new technologies bloom into effect. However people are always debating the usefulness of the product, they are always questioning how the market will react, and if city budgets can afford it. For new technology to flourish it takes time and implementation in the field to see if it’s worth the risk.