Embracing New Technology
There is a picture that hangs in our fire station that has always sparked my curiosity. It is a hand drawn cartoon of a firefighting scene. There is no date on it, but it is old. Most likely from around the 20’s or 30’s. It shows hose carts and playpipes. As I look at this picture, I always wonder what the firefighters in the drawing would think of the technology we have today. I also wonder what the firefighters 100 years from now will have access to.
For myself, I am skeptical of anything digital. This skepticism comes from being let down by electronics so many times in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. It is just that we need to continue to teach the basic skills. We must be able to fall back on these basics in the event technology fails.
I have been in a building filled with smoke and had a member of our team leave contact with everything to follow the thermal imager. What if the imager stopped working? Our newest pumper has a digital screen with electric valve actuators. There is a redundant control panel in the center cab console. After the hoses are connected, you can sit in the cab of the truck and pump! It still has several valves that can be manually operated in the event the digital part fails.
Be certain that as we embrace the new, we continue to teach the old. Take some time to ask the veteran firefighters about all the changes. Identify all the new technology you have. Plan for what to do if the technology fails.
Upon completion, the department should be able to….
• Identify new technology available to your department.
• Discuss what you would do in the event the technology was to fail.
Scott Meinecke is a member of the Sheldon Volunteer Fire Department, Director of Safety for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, and field staff for the Fire Service Training Bureau. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com