As technology continues to advance, various industries can leverage it to improve their operations, make processes more efficient, and drive growth. One industry that can greatly benefit from the latest technology is the firefighting service.
Technology is making a significant impact on firefighting, and an increasing number of new technologies will continue to be adopted.
Below are five pieces of technology that are revolutionizing how first responders fight fires.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
It can be challenging for firefighters to discern a bad building fire and a deadly one. With that in mind, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed an AI-based tool called P-Flash.
P-Flash is also referred to as the Prediction Model for Flashover. It was specifically designed to predict and warn firefighters of flashover, a deadly phenomenon that occurs in burning buildings. The tool captures temperature data from a building’s heat detectors but can still work even after these detectors become debris from the fire. With more development, P-Flash has the potential to help firefighters save even more lives.
2. Drone Technology
Leveraging drone technology can help firefighters respond to fires because drones provide aerial imagery, which can drive decision-making while fighting a fire. Firefighting drones have already been used to identify wildfire hot spots, ignite controlled fires, and even plant seeds to help rebuild forests impacted by a wildfire.
Drones send real-time data to human firefighters. This data can include changes in wind or weather patterns and GPS coordinates to help first responders locate the frontline of the fire. They will likely be used more often, especially as wildfire seasons get longer and more devastating.
3. Thermal Imaging Cameras
Small thermal imaging cameras (TICs) are becoming an essential tool for firefighters. Firefighters can do a better job of fighting a fire when they understand the fire’s makeup, and TICs do just that. They monitor a fire’s spread so firefighters can determine their best course of action in putting it out.
Without TICs, firefighters would have a much more challenging time locating hot spots and saving lives. Some cameras are handheld while others are mounted on helmets. Firefighters using TICs can see through the darkness, heavy amounts of smoke, and other barriers that are heat-permeable. TICs will become just as essential as flashlights for firefighters.
4. Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)
AVs are improving general driver safety, but they can also help firefighters do their job more effectively. Ground and programmable air vehicles can be a useful tool for firefighting, as they can transport supplies firefighters rely on and provide real-time GPS data.
It’s no secret that firefighters experience rigorous physical activity while on the job. Thermite is the first robotic firefighter sold in the U.S. and is one of the most capable and durable firefighting robots on the market. Thermite can help firefighters with:
- Fire suppression
- Situational awareness
- Intelligent decision-making
It’s only a matter of time until firefighting becomes more automated using vehicles, advanced robotics, and other programmable machinery.
5. Internet of Things (IoT) Technology
IoT technology is carving its place in many industries, especially as more cities are becoming smart and constructing smart buildings. IoT sensors can help with fire prevention and detection.
IoT sensors can detect changes in the atmosphere, such as temperature. Special heatproof sensors can:
- Detect the temperature of a fire.
- Detect fires before they emit smoke.
- Provide firefighters with information about the intensity of the fire.
- Provide firefighters with clues as to where a fire started and where it’s spreading.
Firefighters will be able to gather real-time data from IoT technology that has the potential to dramatically improve approaches to firefighting, ultimately saving lives.
First responders can rely on new tech to fight fires more efficiently and effectively. Tech can help firefighters with pre-planning, emergency response strategies, and post-incident analysis.
The Future of Firefighting
Fighting a fire is essentially a race against time — every second counts and could mean the difference between life or death for both firefighters and civilians.
Using the latest, most advanced technologies can make firefighting more efficient and effective, leading to more lives saved. The future looks promising for firefighting technology, and it’ll be fascinating to see what other emerging technologies can help firefighters do their jobs.