Computer Technology in the Fire Service
Mount Wachusett Community College
This abstract will discuss how computer technology is used in the fire service today. I will clarify how in today’s world everything revolves around technology, mainly computer technology. In the fast paced world we live in, everyone is looking for a way to help get the job done faster and easier, including the fire service. The fire service continues to adopt new procedures and methods associated with the use of computers and computer controlled devices. On a typical work day, I come in contact with a minimum of five pieces of technology that in some way, shape or form has something to do with a computer, most occasions it is more than five. My online degree in Fire Science will depend on the use of computers. Through the continuous advancement of computer technology, the fire service will continue to implement the newest technology available to make the job safer for both firefighter and citizens.
Computers in the Fire Service
Before computers, all documents for the fire service were either hand written or typed on a typewriter. Today, everything is done on a computer. At their most basic level, computers are used as a means to create documents or to type reports. In recent years, certain tools and pieces of equipment common to the fire service have evolved and taken on characteristics as a result of the advancements in computer technology. Everything from gas meters to our radios and even our fire trucks have computers associated with them.
Fire trucks, whether they be an Engine, Rescue, or a Ladder or Tower truck all have things on them that require the use of some form of computer technology. Engines, or the truck with the water pumps, use this technology to do things like run the motor. The motor’s control computer tells the motor how much fuel to use based on air flow and how hard the accelerator is pushed. It also controls the rate at which the cylinders fire, and when the cooling fans turn on and off. The speedometer also gets its information from the computer. The trucks pump uses the computer to tell it how much water it is flowing and how much it has flowed. The mixture of foam concentrate is also controlled by a computer. The power systems are monitored by computers and at any point a computer can be connected to the Engine and any of the parameters can be changed or modified. Ladder trucks and Towers use computers to control their sticks (ladders). Rescue trucks use them to monitor air supply, keep track of vital signs on a patient or even to shock the patient back to life. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) extend the capabilities of maps, making them intelligent, interactive maps with all sorts of information available on them.
When responding to calls of gaseous odors or carbon monoxide alarms activated, we rely on the use of a four-gas meter. This meter is essentially a small handheld computer that monitors the atmosphere that it is in and determines the levels of four pre-calibrated gases to indicate to the firefighter is it is safe to be there or not. It helps us to detect faulty heating appliances by telling us if the appliance is burning its fuel completely or not. Without these gas meters a simple call would turn into a two hour ordeal while we tried to find out what was wrong instead of being able to look at the screen and see exactly what we have.
Communication is one of the most important aspects of a successful mitigation of a fire incident. The ability to communicate with each other, dispatch, and incident command is very important to the life safety of all personnel on scene. The radios we use to establish this communication are all a result of the advancements in computer technology. The radios broadcast over a bandwidth, bounce off repeaters, and display information right on the screen of...
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