This past year, 2009, was a rather slow one for apparatus makers with some reporting new sales off by as much as 40 percent over previous years – perhaps a reflection of the sour economy and the reduction of tax revenue.
Other segments of the fire service industry seem as if they were not as seriously affected as the apparatus market.
Some of that may also be attributed to the fact that the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program favored personal protective equipment and other fire safety equipment, devoting more of the federal pie to those markets over apparatus.
Programs dedicated to fire prevention were also given preference under the program which provided $560 million to the nation’s fire departments.
While the economy may have put the brakes on sales, it didn’t slow innovation, research and development.
Many PPE makers introduced new products and announced new initiatives to keep firefighters safe. MSA introduced several improvements to products, including a new SCBA face mask, as well as improvements to the company’s line of thermal imaging cameras and gas detection devices.
Scott Health & Safety was in the mix as well with the introduction of a wireless communications system using Bluetooth technology.
Specifically, Scott’s new EPIC (Enhanced Performance Integrated Communications) is used to enable Scott SCBA users to communicate effectively both locally and through an interface with radios.
Technological advancements were also noted with Bullard, the maker of a variety of PPE equipment for responders as well as thermal imaging cameras.
Bullard introduced a new camera, called the T4MAX, with an enhanced engine and a vastly improved display, according to the maker.
The TIC has an “ultra-high” 320X240 detector, a trademarked “Super Red Hot” colorization informing firefighters of areas of intense heat, electronic thermal throttle isolates heat sources, and more than 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit saturation temperature.
The camera also has an improved 4.3-inch widescreen format Liquid Crystal Display, with a bright display that enables viewing in thick smoke and direct sunlight. It also has a 2x and 4x digital zoom.
Advancements in electronic technology helped Firecom launch new products – wireless headsets and base stations. With the new devices, responders are able to connect to the in-cab intercom system and vehicle radios using wireless technology. According to the maker, the headset is ideal for command vehicles, on-scene first responders and ambulance attendants.
Draeger expanded its family of single gas detectors with the launch of the Pac 3500 and Dräger Pac 5500.
Both devices are designed for personal protection by measuring the concentration of oxygen, carbon monoxide or hydrogen sulfide in the air. The Draeger Pac 3500 has a lifespan of approximately two years and the Draeger Pac 5500 has an indefinite lifespan with proper maintenance and servicing, according to the maker.
Earlier this year, Globe Firefighter Suits introduced a new suit at a value price for the budget-constrained customer. The line is called CLASSIX and it features regular or lo-rise pants and a jacket with Globe’s free-hanging throat tab, contoured collar and sleeves, underarm gussets, dual action cargo pockets, and double sleeve wells.
The pants have a hook and loop fly with hook and dee closure and take up straps, padded H-back, rip-cord suspenders with horizontal loop attachment, diamond crotch gusset and flex liner knees.
Holmatro Rescue Equipment introduced a new ram head this year on its 4000 series rams. According to the maker, the big advantage of the new ram head is the optimized grip which was achieved by changing the shape of the head from round to square, according to Holmatro.
The new heads, or tips, make for a better grip during dashboard rolls, according to the maker.
Rescue tool maker, TNT Rescue Systems developed the NEXUS, a shunt valve coupler which allows responders to hot swap tools on over 100 feet of line under pressure, according to the maker.