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Thread: Technology in the Fire Service

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    Default Technology in the Fire Service

    This disscussion came up in a trainning class the other night. Im looking for your thoughts. Thanks to all!

    What are your thoughts on whether emergency service organizations can truly function effectively in today's society without the use of some type of computer hardware and software.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LSU_Tigers View Post
    This disscussion came up in a trainning class the other night. Im looking for your thoughts. Thanks to all!

    What are your thoughts on whether emergency service organizations can truly function effectively in today's society without the use of some type of computer hardware and software.
    We do it all the time. When the CAD system crashes, we revert back to our map books, sprinkler books, apartment and school complex books. When the department moved up to GPS-MDT's the old way was saved for that exact reason. In fact, some of the old school Captains use zone numbers with map books exclusively.
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    Some is absolutely needed, but not necessarily a great deal.

    Hardware wise, modern apparatus is pretty hardware dependent. Thermal Imaging is becoming standard as is at least basic four gas detection. Radio technology often requires some level of computer interface, etc. But, other than that, there's not much beyond entry level PCs and off the shelf software that could really be considered absolutely necessary for the operation of a small or even medium sized department.
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    What did we do before computers, smartphones, direct connect cellphones, GPS, and all the other toys?

    We put the fire out.

    Technology is nice, but when the technology hits the rotating oscillating air movement device, one must rely on past experience and the old ways. We still have the old fire alarm running card system as a backup in case the CAD craps the bed.
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    gentlemen, lets not forget the fact that computers dont necessarily mean a device on a desk, or a laptop inside a vehicle.....what about when the computer-controlled engine in the pumper or the ladder has issues? We can't even have someone press down on the gas pedal to keep engine RPM's up- the damn gas pedals arent even mechanically linked anymore!!! How about those computer-controlled pressure governors????
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    gentlemen, lets not forget the fact that computers dont necessarily mean a device on a desk, or a laptop inside a vehicle.....what about when the computer-controlled engine in the pumper or the ladder has issues? We can't even have someone press down on the gas pedal to keep engine RPM's up- the damn gas pedals arent even mechanically linked anymore!!! How about those computer-controlled pressure governors????
    I was going to hit on this same point. The trucks will end up running themselves (more so than they already do) before it is over with.
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    Thanks for all the great replys! As a new firefighter, I dont know what its like to run calls without technology. Hopefully we dont have to resort back to old times! God bless you all and stay safe while saving LIFE and PROPERTY!

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    Default Lsu

    If you look back through history, in away firefighting is still being done the same way as when Ben Franklin was Chief::::


    http://www.firehouse.com/article/107...k-rules-vs-dna

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    gentlemen, lets not forget the fact that computers dont necessarily mean a device on a desk, or a laptop inside a vehicle.....what about when the computer-controlled engine in the pumper or the ladder has issues? We can't even have someone press down on the gas pedal to keep engine RPM's up- the damn gas pedals arent even mechanically linked anymore!!! How about those computer-controlled pressure governors????
    I think this is a big problem. Even though mechanical "dumb" trucks had their faults, when they screwed up you could troubleshoot them on the street at the fire. Now when one of these electric trucks has a problem, you can't do a thing. I've seen $5 sensors render an aerial inoperable because it didn't think they jacks were down. Same with engines because some cheap sensor failed, it didn't know the pumper was in pump, so the electric throttle governor wasn't given control and the engine was stuck in a useless limbo.

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    Currently, we can't roll down the driver's window on my engine. F-ing technology! Never had a problem when the window was controled Manuel-y. A hand crank window is extra $$$ now as compaired to the broke electronic one we have now.

    TIC's... a great tool, when used in addition to rudementry basic search skills.

    Digital SCBA ICM... fancy, but we have had toreplace all our ICM's last year to get an updated program put in them.

    MCT's... I am amazed at how many drivers are completely lost, in their own district, without the officer telling them to turn left or right.

    All this technology is great, till it breaks, then you got to go back and lean on your old school skills.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSU_Tigers View Post
    Hopefully we dont have to resort back to old times!

    Kid, I cant tell you how many times I have wished that we could, especially when dealing with all these new-fangled computer controlled apparatus. If an old-school rig failed on the fireground, chances were that someone could fix it with a gerber tool, or a set of tools from the compartment. Nowadays, you cant fix schit without having the piece towed to a shop for $1000+/- (because the puzzy mechanics nowadays dont want to get their tootsies cold or break out into a sweat) and hooking up a laptop to it!!!!!!!

    Computer controlled pump panels??? I dont think you kids should even be allowed near one until you have mastered the art of pumping an old-school non-computerized panel where you have to adjust discharges or adjust the (GASP!) mechanically controlled throttle up or down every time someone opens or closes a line....and no individual pressure gauges!!!

    And manual versus automatic transmissions? dont get me started!!!
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    Odds are your radio is already a computer, and definitely so if you're on a trunked system.

    GPS/AVL (automatic vehicle locator) systems have the potential to save lives by sending the nearest unit, not the "first due."

    Text on dispatch is handy for volunteers, especially if normal pager coverage is less than adequate. With systems like "Iamresponding" not only does each member get a text notification, but they can report their response status, allowing personnel at the station to modify their response based on who they see is enroute to the station.

    TICs and gas monitors are getting more compact and cheaper all the time. There may come a day when sending a member into the fray without a radio, TIC, and gas monitor will be unthinkable.

    Searching for down firefighters and managing resources may well become less difficult as position monitoring systems show exactly where each firefighter is in the building or on the fireground.

    Of course, each system is subject to the foibles of electronics, as others have noted.

    And, in the end, it still comes down to putting the wet stuff on the red stuff, which remains a decidedly low-tech operation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    gentlemen, lets not forget the fact that computers dont necessarily mean a device on a desk, or a laptop inside a vehicle.....what about when the computer-controlled engine in the pumper or the ladder has issues? We can't even have someone press down on the gas pedal to keep engine RPM's up- the damn gas pedals arent even mechanically linked anymore!!! How about those computer-controlled pressure governors????
    Already had that happen. Shift into pump, entire panel takes a crazy pill and NOTHING WORKS. You really do nearly crap yourself. Powered truck down tried it again, same deal. Powered truck down again, ripped panel open and unplugged everything and plugged back in, started engine and everything worked perfectly.
    I have no idea if it was a bad connection or what, I later checked every pin and value, all seemed perfect. Not a single clue what happened to this day. What is really scary is the company is also clueless what happened and why.
    Not exactly same deal but responded to call at jail last night and was stuck in the portal becouse water from sprinklers was screwing up actuators on all the doors which are interconnected so that only one door can be opened at a time through a remotely located panel. Not laughing about that yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FiremanLyman View Post
    MCT's... I am amazed at how many drivers are completely lost, in their own district, without the officer telling them to turn left or right.

    All this technology is great, till it breaks, then you got to go back and lean on your old school skills.
    I don't know if it its technology on the job, or the prevalence of GPS's it seems a lot of firemen have very poor knowledge of their first alarm district. It's amazing and a little worrisome. Technology is nice when it lets us be more efficient, but not when it breeds laziness or isn't redundant. Its ironic that they used to make gasoline fire engines with two sets of electronics, so if one failed the truck would keep running. Now everything is run through the same system, so a problem in one part of the truck and bring the whole vehicle to a halt.
    Last edited by nameless; 09-06-2012 at 02:52 PM.

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    We have a GPS in the truck. Way faster just to drive to where its at, if you don't know every street in the district, you don't drive. We have Apartment complex layouts on the computer, but theres a book thats easier to reach and faster with the same layouts..and it kinda goes with number one, we double check the book for the complex layout, but with less than 10 complexes in the district, if you dont know which building is where in the complex, where the hydrants are, where the ladder or tower can fit, than you don't drive.


    I like some of the tech changes, some of the others are just a flat out waste of money...
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    You guys with the pump shift issues, did you try putting the pump in gear manually? Not sure if this would solve your issue but it's a thought.

    As much as we would all like to see them return, the days of the non-electronic controlled engine is over. It would be impossible with today's emmissions standards.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    You guys with the pump shift issues, did you try putting the pump in gear manually? Not sure if this would solve your issue but it's a thought.

    As much as we would all like to see them return, the days of the non-electronic controlled engine is over. It would be impossible with today's emmissions standards.
    The only problem with manually shifting into pump gear is the fact that the transmission computer does not sense that the pump is now in gear, and the electronics of the pressure governor will not engage properly, if the transmission will allow the operator to place it into "D." If you can get it to do that, you might be able to use the RPM mode of the governor.....knock on wood........
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    The only problem with manually shifting into pump gear is the fact that the transmission computer does not sense that the pump is now in gear, and the electronics of the pressure governor will not engage properly, if the transmission will allow the operator to place it into "D." If you can get it to do that, you might be able to use the RPM mode of the governor.....knock on wood........
    Those EPG's aren't worth the bubble wrap they came in. We have one rig with that on it and every time a new guy rotates through on OT or shift trade at that station, the same question is asked. "Where's the f-in pump throttle?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    You guys with the pump shift issues, did you try putting the pump in gear manually? Not sure if this would solve your issue but it's a thought.

    As much as we would all like to see them return, the days of the non-electronic controlled engine is over. It would be impossible with today's emmissions standards.

    FWDBuff is right. The problem isn't with getting the driveline into pump as much as it is getting the truck to realize it is in pump. On the fire engines I've been around, that electric governor is dead until truck tells it that its time to pump. So even if the truck is in pump, if the sensor messes up, that governor isn't turning on. You probably could have someone in the cab using the accelerator to rev the engine, but that's not how I'd want to pump at a fire. So the truck is in "pump", but the truck's computer doesn't know it because a sensor breaks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LSU_Tigers View Post
    Thanks for all the great replys! As a new firefighter, I dont know what its like to run calls without technology. Hopefully we dont have to resort back to old times! God bless you all and stay safe while saving LIFE and PROPERTY!
    Ask the weekly truck driver who follows his GPS blindly to get into our downtown from the interstate. Usually ends up like this...

    Engine ?, Ladder ?, and District ? Respond for the semi stuck under the RR Bridge on North Broadway.

    He followed his GPS but could not read the bridge height restriction sign. And I quote, "I followed my GPS."

    I hope you know learn how to do things the "old way." That way when technology breaks you won't be completely lost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lexfd5 View Post
    I hope you know learn how to do things the "old way." That way when technology breaks you won't be completely lost.
    In Philadelphia, like many major cities on the east coast, while sitting housewatch, a new proby studies maps of their "local" so that they get to know it. Which way do the numbered streets run....which ways do the named streets run, where the "hundred blocks" correspond with physical locations, major buildings, obstructions (low bridges, etc etc etc...)
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyChiefGonzo View Post
    What did we do before computers, smartphones, direct connect cellphones, GPS, and all the other toys?

    We put the fire out.
    We also interacted with each other instead of burying our heads in laptops, smartphones and video games.
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    Quote Originally Posted by yjbrody View Post
    We also interacted with each other instead of burying our heads in laptops, smartphones and video games.
    OUTSTANDING OBSERVATION!!! We all broke bread together. We worked on projects together....(who has done home improvement projects in the back of the bay...like cut lumber or paint woodwork for your home......No one dissappeared after every run to their bunkrooms and "electronic privacy."
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    Running calls without computers is the easy part (as long as a sound backup dispatch system is in place). Though I suppose a very small, low run volume department could run quite effectively without much technology, the benefit offered by technology has become critical larger departments.

    Think of everything a department does even in excess to administrative functions (payroll, billing, logistics, etc). Permits, plan review, education, code enforecement, pre-incident planning, stategic planning..... I could keep going for a while. Many of these operations depend on information from the field and without computers, it would be very time/manpower intensive to collect, synthesize, and diseminate this info. We'd never be able to get a solid information picture to direct the efforts of those functions.

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