1. #1
    Junior Member
    WFFD490's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Wake Forest, NC
    Posts
    8

    Post Technology in the Fire Service over the last 20 years

    I'm doing a project for school about echnology. My main topic for research is: "How has Technology affected the Fire Service over the last 20 years?" This ranges from apparatus, gear, tools, TIC's, policies/procedures, live burns, training, pretty much everything technology has had an impact on in the fire service. If any of you would be kind enough to provide comments, questions, facts, links to information, other contacts, etc; that would greatly be appreciated. Thanks!!

    Lee Bright, Firefighter- Wake Forest, NC

  2. #2
    Forum Member
    Fire304's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    At the Helm
    Posts
    1,174

    Default

    While technology has improved our lifes across the board, there is no doubt in my mind that CAFS and the TIC are to two greatest inventions since hose. Our communications have not changed much, nor has our PPE (don't get me wrong, its better now than 20 years ago, but not by much), but the advent of an easy to operate CAFS holds the promise of amazing fire suppesion capabilities, and TIC technology made available from the military finally allows us to see where countless generations went in blind.

    I'd just do a search on google and firehouse.com for these subjects and you'll be flooded by the info you get. I think Phoenix AZ is the largest FD running all CAFS, so you may want to find their web site and check it out.

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    Bones42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Pt. Beach, NJ
    Posts
    10,686

    Default

    20 years ago I was standing on the back step of an open pumper getting ready to pull a 3/4" booster into a house fire while holding my breath.

    Now, I sit in enclosed environmentally friendly trucks wearing SCBA getting ready to pull 1 3/4" hose into a fire.

    TIC is great. Improved SCBA are great. CAFS is probably great...not too much of it around here. FD's doing EMS is up for debate, some like it some don't. Better apparatus let us get their quicker, better gear lets us get in deeper, better tools let us open up faster, better hose/pumps let us put more water and put fire out quicker. We now understand we need rehab when done working. We now understand we sometimes need counseling after situations. We now know we need training on different areas. Most of us have learned we need to be responsible for what we do.

    You have been assigned a huge topic as there have been lots of changes in 20 years.

    About the only things that have not changed in 20 years is you still put wet stuff on the red stuff and sometimes people die.

    Crust is great, technology helps you build more layers.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  4. #4
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Posts
    1,143

    Default

    My suggestion?

    If you want to look at how technology has affected the fire service over the last 20 years, take a look outside the fire service.

    Construction or buildings, construction of cars, hazardous materials and processes, lifestyle changes, the list could go on for pages.

    Everything the fire service done is pretty much a reaction to an outside influence.

    You are right though........this is a LARGE project undertaking. Good luck!!

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber
    E229Lt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Posts
    2,987

    Default

    My personal opinion:

    The one thing that has affected the fire service more than any other.
    SMOKE DETECTORS

    Don't jump on me too quick. Just think a minute.

    1. Lives saved.
    2. Property loss reduced.
    3. Many fires caught while incipient.
    4. Lives saved.
    5. Early notification of fire.
    6. Low cost.
    7. Mandated in most new construction.
    And of course:
    Lives saved!

  6. #6
    Forum Member
    ThNozzleman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Jefferson City, TN
    Posts
    4,334

    Default

    Look into the next biggie: Residential Sprinkler Systems.

  7. #7
    Forum Member
    Trkco1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    270

    Default

    Our communications have not changed much, nor has our PPE (don't get me wrong, its better now than 20 years ago, but not by much),
    Please explain this statement. These are 2 things that have probably saved more firefighter's lives then anything else.
    FTM-PTB-EGH-RFB-KTF

  8. #8
    Junior Member
    WFFD490's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Wake Forest, NC
    Posts
    8

    Default

    Thanks for the responses so far!! Yes, I understand what an undertaking I have embarked on. I do have the option to cut the time frame in half, which is probably what I'll do. My intentions are to gather as much info as possible, and then take the most significant topics and use them in my presentation. Also as far as information I'm looking for, looking for exactly how things have changed, such as PPE over time, like materials, liners, etc; How have SCBA's changed? What has changed about Apparatus construction? Any info is extremly helpful. Mainly looking for the details of the changes. Thanks!!

    Lee Bright
    Firefighter- Wake Forest, NC

  9. #9
    Forum Member
    fftrainer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 1999
    Location
    Northern, NJ
    Posts
    889

    Default

    Not sure if you are only looking for ways the Technology has helped the Fire Service or just ways it has affected it.

    If it is the latter, please consider some of the following:

    Composite Building Materials
    Lightweight Truss Construction
    Energy saving 'tight' construction homes
    Big Box Stores
    Airbags in vehicles
    Hybrid vehicles(electric and gas)

  10. #10
    Forum Member
    1835Wayne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Door Village, IN
    Posts
    1,128

    Default

    SCBA's have reduced in size and weight and increased in comfort and reliability. gone for the most part are the steel bottles and straps that bite right through the coat. Here today are lightweight composites and HUD for air level!

    In PPE we have gone from Original Nomex to PBI with better thermal protection. Long coats and rubber 3/4 boots to short coats and bib bunker pants. Thermoplastic contemporary helmets BACK to the original and best, LEATHER!!
    I.A.C.O.J. Charter Member
    "Chet, get an inch and a half on that!"

    "Not for fame or reward,Not for place or rank. Not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity. But in simple obedience to duty as they understood it. These men suffered,sacrificed,dared all, and died. Let us never forget our fallen friends."

  11. #11
    Forum Member
    Fire304's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    At the Helm
    Posts
    1,174

    Default

    Originally posted by Trkco1
    Please explain this statement. These are 2 things that have probably saved more firefighter's lives then anything else.
    Gladly,

    While no doubt there have been improvements in PPE and communications I submit to you that these changes have been rather small compaired to the invention of CAFS and TIC.

    First, lets look at PPE.

    20 years ago we had Scott 2A's, today we are still using nearly identical units (especially if you use MSA's). Yes, pressures have increased, composites have decreased the weights of the packs, and there are some built in safety features which were not available 20 years ago (primarily the PASS device), but all in all the actual function and its protective nature has not changed.

    PASS devices are relatively new, and I'll admit I had not thought of them when answering the orriginal question, so I'll grant you that's an example of life saving technology which has changed the fire service for good.

    As to turnouts, well since the "introduction" of bunker pants and the elimination of hip boots (which in my neck of the woods began to change about 15-20 years ago), what has changed? Sure the fabric of the gear has gone high tech, 20 years ago we had flanel liners, today we have Basofil, the shells have gone from rubber coated cotton duck to nomex to PBI, but they all do the same basic job, just giving you a longer service life and a slightly higher protection rating in extreme conditions. I'm not saying they have not improved, but flash over ratings are still measured in seconds. Our helmets have a higher impact rating, and the liners now "break-away" if you fall over backwards, but the basic design has not really changed over the years.

    The biggest changes in PPE has been in our use of them. 20 years ago we left the Scotts sitting on the truck, today we would not consider stepping off w/o one. We still need to improve on our PASS usage, but its getting there!

    Despite all these "improvements" in our PPE we are still dying at the same rate we were 20 years ago.

    Radios, I would argue, have not really changed at all in a purely functional sense. OK, you've got 800Mhz and trunking digital systems, but in terms of how they work, you push the button and speak, you let go and listen, period. The changes we see in radio technology is largely driven by the very companies which create the technology. Seriously, since most companies moved from low band VHF to 154Mhz have you ever heard a fire officer say "Gee, I wish I could use a radio with a higher frequency that 154"? If anything, radio changes have complicated our lives. In a city near to me which has gone digital, the trucks have to carry four different types of radios just so they can communicate with everyone they need to and to provide a fail safe backup in case the digitals fail. Its not uncommon to see officers that have to carry two portables. The old days of two channel radios (one primary, one mutual aid frequency) were much simpler. Higher costs, poor coverage, lost communications have all resulted from pushing for this new technology that I feel have not paid off. This may be a good subject for a new thread, but has anyone had good luck with these new 800Mhz systems? We see story after story of big city FD's complaining about their new systems, of FFr's not being able to communicate with people 50 feet away from them. The answer so far has been to throw more money at the problems but still they persist.

    Don't get me wrong, I do see many other improvements across the board, how about the introduction of computer controlled diesel engines or ABS brakes in apparatus, but IMHO the two areas where true quantum leaps have been made are the TIC and CAFS (both of which, ironically are much older than 20 years but have only recently been made available, affordable, and practical to FD's).

    Rich
    Last edited by Fire304; 09-20-2002 at 11:24 AM.

  12. #12
    Forum Member
    RyanEMVFD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 1999
    Location
    Why? It's not like you're going to visit me! But I'm near Waco, Texas
    Posts
    2,386

    Default

    Well since my department is still using equipment that is over 20 years old... I agree that the PASS Device is a huge advancement for the fire service. Also on smoke detectors.

    One that I think has been the most helpful to the fire service is the Internet. Without it I wouldn't be here sharing information, I'd have to call you long distance if I even know you. Now information is passed on from state to state, country to country in a matter of seconds.

    One thing that is a huge advancement but is not a piece of technology is education. 20 years ago we didn't have all these schools and courses to take. It was pretty much all on the job training. Now it's 3 months or longer fire academies, which I'm all for.
    NREMT-P\ Reserve Volunteer Firefighter\Reserve Police Officer
    IACOJ Attack

    Experts built the Titanic, amateurs built the Ark.

  13. #13
    55 Years & Still Rolling
    hwoods's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Glenn Dale Md, Heart of the P.G. County Fire Belt....
    Posts
    10,739

    Talking Ahhh, Yes! Communications...

    Maybe it was a bit more than 20 years ago, but I remember Using Looseleaf notebooks with all the Running Assignments in them, along with other needed info. No doubt, The Communications area is one that has seen huge changes in the last 20 years, like it or not. Stay Safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

  14. #14
    Forum Member
    scbaguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    65

    Default

    Fire 304 wrote
    20 years ago we had Scott 2A's, today we are still using nearly identical units
    Sorry, gotta argue that:
    About the only thing the same is they both have an air bottle. Consider this:
    Possitive pressure SCBA systems
    Integrated PASS
    Integrated communications
    Fire resistive (kevlar/nomex) straps/harnesses
    lighter weight from improved materials
    quick fill/buddy breathing ability
    better materials in mask construction,
    but all in all the actual function and its protective nature has not changed.
    No, it hasn't changed completely. We still can't osmosis breathing air from outside the fire, but technology has considerably improved and matured the products we use. SCBA's are only now becoming something more than an afterthough for the fire service. We are mandated to use them, so industry has been forced to improve and adapt them for our specific needs and circumstances.
    As to turnouts, well since the "introduction" of bunker pants and the elimination of hip boots (which in my neck of the woods began to change about 15-20 years ago), what has changed? Sure the fabric of the gear has gone high tech, 20 years ago we had flanel liners, today we have Basofil, the shells have gone from rubber coated cotton duck to nomex to PBI, but they all do the same basic job, just giving you a longer service life and a slightly higher protection rating in extreme conditions.
    The basic job hasn't changed, how it does the job has. That is where the technology comes in. When you break it down to it's basic part, we still go in and put water on fire in order to put it out, just like they did 20, 40, even 50 years ago. So, I guess you could say that nothing has changed. But technology has allowed us to do things differently. I see quite a bit of things that have changed over the years, but depending on your perspective, you could say things are the same. The end results are the same (almost) as they were, it's how we get there that has changed with technology.

  15. #15
    Forum Member
    Fire304's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    At the Helm
    Posts
    1,174

    Default

    Originally posted by scbaguy
    Sorry, gotta argue that:
    About the only thing the same is they both have an air bottle. Consider this:
    Possitive pressure SCBA systems
    Integrated PASS
    Integrated communications
    Fire resistive (kevlar/nomex) straps/harnesses
    lighter weight from improved materials
    quick fill/buddy breathing ability
    better materials in mask construction,
    You bet these are improvements, but they do not (except for the PASS as I noted in another post) represent a major change in fire service technology. In my mind its all a question of degrees, I see the above changes as analagous to the differences between a car from 1960 to 1980 (better milage, high tech components, better safety features) but it's still a car, it goe the same speed over the same terrain. Compaire that to the change from no airpacks to the first generation of Scotts is likened to the industrial revolution, it completely changes the way we do business (which was my point with TIC's and CAFS) You'll note in my analogy I used the 1980's because the stuff coming down the pike (like the Scott 5.0, most of us up here are still using 4.5's and some 2.2's) will get us into the 90's.

    Rereading this post I must say that in retrospect (using my own arguments) I suppose the CAFS is a major jump in technology, its not a true revolution, its still wet stuff on red stuff. Or should I say white foamy stuff on red stuff.


    I see quite a bit of things that have changed over the years, but depending on your perspective, you could say things are the same. The end results are the same (almost) as they were, it's how we get there that has changed with technology.
    Amen brother. It seems that everytime we jump forward in firefighting technology we have to take a defensive jump back due to the other technologies which make our job harder. Plastics, insulation, lightweight structural components, hybrid cars, and now WMD are all the result of newer technology which parralels our advances.

    WFFD, maybe that's where you paper should take you, how despite all our new gadgets the job keeps getting tougher and more expensive to do (in terms of both cost and training). Is that the biggest change in the fire service thanks to technology? If you were fight a fire like a smoke eater from 30 years ago you wouldn't last very long, fires were not safe then (and never will be), but for lack of a better word they were "safer" then, or perhaps more predictable is the word I'm looking for. The smoke less toxic, buildings didn't fall over as easy, roofs were stonger, hazmat not as common, the list goes on. One thing is certain, we are fighting fewer but more dangerous fires today, and we are still dying at the same rate.

  16. #16
    Forum Member
    scbaguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    65

    Default

    Fire304,
    We're on the same page!
    The job is still the same: Keep ourselves and our Brothers safe, Protect the public, and then protect property.
    In my opinion, there have been major technological leaps in the last 20-30 years. Usually when you think of a technological jump, it means that you are now above the base of where you started. In other words, because of the advance, you are better off. Not so in the fire service.
    The dangers we face have increased because of technology!! Light weight trusses, plastics, lightweight concrete construction, increased use of synthetics in construction, and the list goes on. Even though the fire service has advanced, we are only able to keep pace with the advances in the dangers we face. We are not getting safer, now it just takes more to break even.

  17. #17
    Permanently Removed

    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Mayfield NY
    Posts
    378

    Default

    Help me out here, I'm not familiar with the acronym CAFS and TIC. What are they?

  18. #18
    Forum Member
    1835Wayne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Door Village, IN
    Posts
    1,128

    Talking

    C- compressed
    A- air
    F- foam
    S- system

    AND

    T- thermal
    I- imaging
    C- camera

    I.A.C.O.J. Charter Member
    "Chet, get an inch and a half on that!"

    "Not for fame or reward,Not for place or rank. Not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity. But in simple obedience to duty as they understood it. These men suffered,sacrificed,dared all, and died. Let us never forget our fallen friends."

  19. #19
    Forum Member
    Fire304's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    At the Helm
    Posts
    1,174

    Default

    Originally posted by scbaguy The dangers we face have increased because of technology!!
    I attended an extrication seminar this summer where the topic was hybrid vehicles. After getting the "scare" lecture, where they told us all the new dangers hybrids represent (moving w/o running, 200+VDC, batteries filled with hazmat), the speaker went on to tell us that he personally called Toyota and Honda and asked many questions but these two were the most important in his mind...

    Aside from head on crashing, what crash testing did you do to the battery pack to see what happenes when you crush 200+volts, and what provisions did you make for emergency responders to "safe" the vehicle from the battery pack.

    The answer to both was the same, none, it's not required by the government.

    Thanks a lot guys, we're glad your engineers are thinking of us.

  20. #20
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Location
    Puget Sound
    Posts
    130

    Default

    Fire 304:

    You'll have to forgive the length of this response, but you raised some interesting issues.

    The changes we see in radio technology is largely driven by the very companies which create the technology.

    Yes and no. Trunked systems are designed to be a more efficient use of radio spectrum. When you have two VHF freqs, one of which (fireground) sits unused most of the time, you are being really inefficient and wasting that extra airspace. Trunking allows more users on less frequencies, and utilizies all the frequencies equally, which is more efficient.

    Do the vendors want to sell you trunked systems? Sure. But it's not just them pushing it; it's simply a more efficient way to use radio spectrum, which is why the FCC wants to get people on 800 mhz and trunking as well.

    Seriously, since most companies moved from low band VHF to 154Mhz have you ever heard a fire officer say "Gee, I wish I could use a radio with a higher frequency that 154"?

    Depends on what you give 'em.

    Around here (Seattle area), the eastern suburbs operated on VHF forever. Depending upon where you were, you had one VHF dispatch frequency that was used for fireground as well, or a dispatch frequency with a separate VHF fireground frequency. You get two major fires, and then you're either talking over each other on the fireground frequency or you've got one of the fires competing with dispatches and other minor incidents on the dispatch frequency. Or where you only had one VHF frequency, you're competing with other incidents throughout the fire.

    With the move to 800 mhz, now you have 10 different fireground talkgroups, a dispatch talkgroup, a hailing talkgroup, as well as admin talkgroups for each different department that allow you to carry out conversations on radio instead of wasting $ on cell phones. Frankly, I think if you presented that choice to your hypothetical officer, he'd take the 800 mhz system.

    This may be a good subject for a new thread, but has anyone had good luck with these new 800Mhz systems? We see story after story of big city FD's complaining about their new systems, of FFr's not being able to communicate with people 50 feet away from them. The answer so far has been to throw more money at the problems but still they persist.

    Problems with 800 mhz reception are actually an interesting issue. Most of the time it's the fault of the agency who buys the system, because they won't hold the vendor's feet to the fire and make them build something that actually has good coverage. It's the old low bid issue; cheaper the bid, the less likely it is to have enough sites to cover what you need to. It's not really the technology itself; you get a good system with enough radio sites, and it'll work really well.

    The other thing about trunking is that it tells you when you're not getting out, but conventional systems don't. Let's say you're in a house with a trunked radio. You try calling "Engine 1 to command," but you aren't getting out, so you get the "aahhhnnnkkk" tone that tells you your message didn't go through. So you know that nobody heard your message.

    Try the same thing on VHF. "Engine 1 to command..." Well, your message didn't get out, but you don't know that. No "aahhhnnkkk" tone telling you that it didn't go through. Or maybe you got stepped on by somebody else.

    You may have the same or worse coverage issues with a conventional system, but the radios themselves don't tell you that when they're not getting out. Trunked radios will tell you where holes in the system are, so now you know where there are issues when with a conventional you may not even know where you didn't have coverage.

    Additionally, with 800 mhz the FCC has set aside certain frequencies that are to be conventional nationwide, so different radios (Motorola, E.F. Johnson, etc.) can talk to each other. A way to solve the problem of poor coverage areas is to pick a conventional frequency to put in the last talkgroup position of each radio, then have it monitored by the incident commander on any fireground. If you are not getting out, turn the talkgroup knob all the way to the end, where the conventional channel is, and then you're essentially talking on 800 mhz in simplex point to point mode the same way you would be on VHF.

    Anyway, whatever works for somebody is fine. The point of this novel is that trunked systems are not the beasts they're often made out to be. If you design it right and build it right, it can work pretty well. If it's not for you, than stay on VHF or whatever else.

  21. #21
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Fletch 8903's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    SW Ohio
    Posts
    150

    Default

    While it may not be as important as improved apparatus, PPE, TIC, or CAFS, the Internet is playing a role in improving the fire service. This website provides a forum to discuss new techniques and technologies that are making our job safer and easier.

    Several times I have posted requests for advice or information, and have been pointed in the right direction by the members of these forums. This "virtual firehouse" has saved countless hours of stumbling around looking for information.

    As for "hands on" improvements to technology, the widespread availability of the thermal imaging camera, and the reduced cost to buy them, has been lifesaver.

  22. #22
    Forum Member
    Fire304's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    At the Helm
    Posts
    1,174

    Default

    One-L, thanks for your post, you did a great job of explaining trunking systems for all of us.

    One point I would like to make about the FCC, you must remember they are a goverment agency with political ties. They are lobbied by companies such as the big M to create the laws which allow the new technology to be put in place (much like the FDA is lobbied by the drug companies), so I am suspect at any changes they allow. The shift towards higher frequencies has generated some nice windfalls for the FCC. Where 154Mhz licenses had to be over 100 miles apart they can now issue permits only 20 miles apart, a huge increase in revenue for the FCC.

    While 800Mhz trunking systems offer us some fantastic capabilities, it has fallen short in most of our applications. Admitedly, this is mostly our (or at least our bosses') fault, we either don't spec exactly what we need, or are unwilling to pony up for 100% of the huge costs associated with updating our radios. But what ever the cause, there is pressure from on high to make this shift, so we see systems fielded without proper testing, or worse, with known problems. While taxi services and fleet trucks will be annoyed with these glitches, they can be dangerous to FD and PD personel.

    I'll be thinking of you and wishing we had 800 next time I catch a skip from Cape Ann at 2 am on my 154Mhz pager .

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register