Ballam: Fire Service Vendors Continue to Innovate

Fire service vendors and manufacturers are always coming up with new things to sell firefighters and first responders and a lot of them are really cool and advance the trade and keep us safe in many ways.

If you have any doubts about that, just check out Firehouse’s product showcases in print and industry news and products on line.

For instance, in this past month, Air Systems announced a new portable lighting system. Federal Resources introduced a new basic detection kit for hazmat incidents.

Zico, also known as Ziamatic, is showcasing its double-mounted extrication tool mounting system, and Streamlight debuted its high lumen headlamp for responder use as well as an improved “Knucklehead” hand light with a swiveling, rotating head.

Just in time for winter weather, Grainger is now offering a new winter work wear fleece jacket with high visibility reflective pattern.  Responders know it’s important to have good, warm gear in the cold weather, but it always more important to be seen while on the scene.

And, while radiation maybe less of a threat than a speeding drunk driver at an incident scene, wouldn’t you want to know about it if there were any radioactive materials present? Rae Systems has introduced a new, small hand-held device that monitors radiation and provide responders with real-time threat data – important stuff when trying to gauge what’s going on. And we can never be sure what’s rolling down our highways, or railways in our communities. A device like this helps reduce the pucker factor at scenes involving unknown substances.

Along those same lines, Federal Resources is offering a new hazmat kit that contains a Radmeter, F Paper, pH paper, Temp Gun and LEL Meter. This rapidly deployable kit, called S.A.F.E. Kit, is designed to be stand-alone, and holds all the necessary supporting equipment including bump gas, chargers, and HazMatIQ charts.

It sounds like a good way to make sure all the equipment one may need for a hazmat incident is in one place.

It’s also important to be able to see at incident scenes and Air Systems has come up with a new solution to that age-old problem.

The company recently introduced its Air Light II, a 12- volt lighting system that the manufacturer says can go virtually anywhere and endure any weather condition. The system has extendable masts to elevate the light heads up to eight feet. Units are available with two light heads that produce 1,800 lumens of light and a four light head unit that produces 3,600 lumens.

For apparatus, Kussmaul Electronics has a new air and electric auto eject connection. We’ve all heard of those incidents were a driver tries to leave the bay with an apparatus still plugged in on the shoreline or the air hose for the brakes still attached.

While I’ve never done it, I was present when our engine left the bay with the air hose still plugged in. It stretched to the apron then broke with a hearty smack against the back wall. Like a bungee cord, the air line recoiled and took out the pressure control valve on the compressor. No damage to the apparatus, and only minor damage to the compressor, but if someone had been in the wrong place, it would have been a different story.

So, to avoid that, Kussmaul’s auto eject automatically disconnects the shoreline power and airline before the apparatus moves. Our next engine will definitely have something like that if I have anything to say about it.

Innovation is always part of best business management and a key element to growth and success. Vendors of fire service equipment, the ones that stick around at least, are no different. They’re always looking to come up with new products. Most often, what they come up with helps us do our jobs better. It’s our job to keep our eyes open to the latest stuff they bring to market and see if it makes sense for our use.