- CRITTER TALK
- MOVIE-TV-BOOK REVIEWS
Statistics show that, sadly, dozens of firefighters die on an annual basis, and firefighting departments are always looking for new tools, technologies, and methods to help reduce their rates of injuries and deaths, improving the safety of each person who puts on the uniform.
Modern technological advancements can be seen across countless industries and aspects of life, including the world of firefighting, and today’s firefighters work very differently to those of a few decades ago.
Deeper understandings of fire dynamics allow firefighters to control blazes more effectively, while new tools and technologies like thermal cameras, high-tech fabrics, and advanced hoses give each man and woman a better chance of staying safe on the job.
As time goes by, we’re sure to see even more exciting advancements for firefighters to utilize. Here are just a few technologies, set to be developed in the not-so-distant future, that could change the game for the entire firefighting world.
Firefighters have already seen big improvements in the safety equipment they use each day, with stronger, smarter fabrics, better helmets and gas masks, more resistant gloves, and so on, being introduced over the years, but the uniform and its accompanying accessories still have room for improvement.
The current standard of safety gear isn’t infallible, with many injuries and accidents occurring, and some firefighters even developing cancer due to the exposure to foam. Fortunately, as new fabrics, materials, and safety standards develop, we can expect to see even better safety attire and accessories for every firefighter, helping them all feel much safer when performing their duties.
We’re already starting to see how artificial intelligence, or AI, can impact our lives. Many modern homes have their own ‘AI assistants’, and we’re seeing AI being integrated into various industries for commercial use too. AI also has applications in the world of firefighting.
It’s possible for future AI technologies to carry out risk assessments for firefighters on the job, providing alerts and accurate information on their surrounding environment, giving firefighters the heads-up if they may be in danger, and suggesting the smartest plan of action for every encounter.
The standards of facial recognition software are increasing by the day, and this technology is becoming increasingly reliable. It’s not hard to imagine a near future in which this kind of software can be used by firefighters to identify any people they encounter while making their way through burning buildings or other dangerous locations, getting immediate information on each person.
This kind of technology could be used to help first responders find out more about the people they encounter, being able to quickly and easily contact their next of kin, as well as learning about their medical history or any possible risks they may pose.
Biotelemetry can be used to monitor the life signs and other health measurements of patients in hospitals, but it could also be used for firefighters on the job. Advanced biotelemetry programs and tools could be used, for instance, to track a firefighter’s heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and so on. This information could be used to track a firefighter’s condition and performance while on the job.
It could even potentially tie into a separate system in which alerts and advice are provided, based on the data collected. For example, if the biotelemetry readings report that a firefighter’s lactate levels are reaching dangerously high levels, they may be informed to take a rest or remove themselves from the current area, if they’re in a dangerous location.
Virtual and augmented reality technology has widespread applications. We’re seeing VR and AR games and experiences in the entertainment space, as well as virtual reality tools used by everyone from architects to medical professionals, and there’s certainly space for this kind of technology to help firefighters too.
Virtual and augmented reality programs and experiences could be developed to raise awareness of fire safety, helping people learn the correct steps to follow if a fire breaks out, reducing the workload on firefighters who arrive on the scene later on. It’s also possible for these kinds of VR experiences to be used for firefighter training purposes.
Due to the high-risk nature of firefighting work, it’s not unheard of for firefighters to actually be injured or involved in accidents while going to or from an emergency location. However, with the advent of self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles that are designed to massively reduce the risk of collisions, those kinds of accidents could become a thing of the past.
Self-driving ground and air vehicles will be able to transport firefighters to and from incident sites safely, securely, and quickly, without the worries of human errors. Fitted with 360 cameras, collision detection, and advanced technologies, these vehicles will allow firefighters to focus entirely on their own tasks at hand, with no need to concern themselves with transportation.
Thermal imaging is already so important to firefighters, effectively helping to see clearly in difficult conditions, identifying trapped people at disaster sites, or finding survivors in burning buildings. With new advancements in computer vision and object recognition, this could go even further.
New masks and visual aids could be developed that allow firefighters to enjoy an unparalleled view of emergency sites, clearly and easily spotting objects around them, knowing in advance about possible floor or ceiling collapses, and finding survivors that much faster.
With these new and emerging technologies by their side, firefighters can look forward to a better future, with safer gear, stronger tools, and better equipment all round to help them carry out their tasks, save lives, and stay safe in the process.