Trends in Computer Technology As They Affect Public Administration of Fire Department
Technological innovation in the firefighting department is very essential. The ability to have computer applications in most of the duties has helped bring ease in their execution. Firefighting is a department that has been mandated to respond promptly to the fire outbreaks whenever they occur. In most of the times, the firemen risk their own lives for the sake of others. The most memorable event was the unfortunate September 9/11 terrorist attacks. The nearest fire station responded very swiftly with the aim of saving those who were trapped in the World Trade Center (WTO). Unluckily, the building collapsed killing the trapped people including hundreds of firemen at the scene. There are many other instances where firemen have lost their lives in the line of duty.
In many cases, there are a number of reasons that make this important department not effectively do its mandate. The kind of machinery available for the rescue and putting out the fire plays a major role. Situations where there is neither appropriate nor adequate machinery for an operation, the fire men’s work are also hampered. For instance, a situation where a building is too tall and the available fire engine is not able to pump water to the required head is disastrous. Sometimes, means of reaching the affected areas is always difficult, something that leads to the quick spreading of the fire.
It is also prudent to mention communication as a major factor when it comes to firefighting. When there are enough precaution measures put in place to detect an out break of fire, the firemen get the information late after much damage has been done. Premises which do not have appropriate fire precautions always fall victim of fire outbreak that are difficult to manage. On the other hand, those premises with fire detection gadgets are always in a position of taking the required measures to put out the fire. There are many other things that are determining the ease to which firemen can be successful. Easy communication amongst the firemen is also important. This is good in cautioning the fellow firemen in case of dangers to their own safety. The call of duty sometimes force the firemen to put out fire from vary dangerous items. Some of them are highly flammable. Unfortunately, their protective garments sometimes catch fire leading to loss of lives.
The use of computer technology in the recent past has helped solve some of these problems. This remains to be a sure way of ensuring that there is a smooth administration in the fire department. Technology is able to ensure that efficiency is achieved in firefighting, something that can help in avoidance of many deaths that occur year by year out of the same causes. It should be noted that some of these technologies have been in existence in many other areas like the military. There is a need to adopt them in the firefighting department.
The most important of these is the improvement of the Emergency Response System (ERT). Department of Homeland security has been working hard to ensure that ERT is improved to ensure that administration of firefighting is efficient. This program entails the use of computer technology to ensure that communication is possible in locating those emergency responders within the building. Jim Ball, a retired U.S Air force and an ERT consultant, explains that this technology should also be able to locate all the biological elements and civilians within the structure under fire. It will involve a 3-D responder locater, which can enable people to see each other through a wall and communicate through data and voice technology. This will be important in ensuring that as many people as possible are saved (Rogers & Gordon, 1990).
The US government has always pushed for more research into technological ways that can enable easy administration of firefighting in different departments of the state on federal and local levels. To support this, there are legislations that have been enacted to ensure that research has been done and the findings used to improve the situation. The most notable was the 2003 Reauthorization Act known as U.S. Fire Administration Act (USFA). This paved the way to the establishment of Firefighter Research and Coordination Act. This Act advocates for a new strategy of firefighter response that is only based on technology in all levels of governance.
The agencies and task forces that have been involved in firefighting researches are: NASA, ERT, The National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST), National Protection Center (NPC), and USFA. NASA technologies have in the recent past to come to enhance the ability of fighters to operate efficiently. These technologies have included their tested outer garments that can be used while dealing with dangerous materials. The most computerized technology has been developed by NASA in conjunction with Chicago Fire Department. This program has a way of detecting firemen, locating, and rescuing them within a radius of 2,400 feet. Another important development was the innovation of the firefighter air that can take longer than the ones that existed. This also has a cellular phone fitted into it to help locate the firefighter.
ERT is an advisory body that is made up of many firefighter groups and associations. They have been involved in developing and testing the emergency responder prototypes in laboratories. NIST, on the other hand, is a government research laboratory that is mandated in coming up with computer models of systems that are meant to protect lives of the US citizens. This is the body that gives the advice on the measurements and the standard of those measures that can detent dangers that include threats and other natural disasters. Their work has led to the innovations of good firefighting clothing, enhanced ability to detect biological, chemical, and firefighter training equipments. The most important current development is the establishment of a communication system that is able to connect fire ground system and that locates the firefighters. This is important in detecting the ability of a structure to collapse. It has helped reduce the risk of the firefighters to loose their lives in collapsing buildings.
Some of the specific technologies that have been put in place are in different areas. These are: communication, hazardous (dangerous) materials, personal protective clothing, safety systems, locator systems, and training aids. In communication, there are a number of intelligent radio systems that have been innovated. They include Incident Commander Radio Systems, Automated Configurable Intelligent Radio, Tactical Detection Aids, and Fire ground Personnel Location and Communication Systems. These have the capabilities of transmitting voice data even in damaged areas of a structure. They are also able to give precise details of the location of firefighters due to their abilities to easily penetrate through walls. They are less sensitive to the interference that is experienced with the normal radio systems (Schiller, 2003).
Tactical Decision Aids have been developed to help connect with other fire detection devices in premises. This technology is able to detect the exact place of fire incidence, something that is important in alerting the firefighters to act promptly. This is also important for the firefighters in making quick plan for their require operations. Most importantly, this technology is able to show the exact location of the incidence within a building, the time of the outbreak and the changes that occur within and without the building. Another important programme by the ERT has made locating trapped human beings within rubbles possible. This is important in the rescue of the victims.
ERT has developed a device that can easily detect hazardous chemicals in a given scene. This is important in enabling the firefighters not endanger their lives in situations, which are dangerous. This is also important in making a choice on which kind of apparatus or protective clothes should be used. NPC has also come out with scientifically tested protective clothing appropriate for firefighting. The design of these clothing has been done depending on the scene of firefighting. They have been designed to enable more mobility and visibility of the body during the operation. Due to the rise in temperatures in the affected areas, a cooling system has been developed to ensure that the operations are not affected or the operations of the rescuers are not hampered. In the same note, a system of finding out the exact thermal condition for the firefighters are has been developed NIST. This has made it possible for the design of appropriate clothing that suit either dry or wet rescue operation.
Ground penetrating radar that had earlier been developed for other purpose has been discovered to be able to detect the human body in rubble. NIST has also successfully funded a project of monitoring the risk of structural collapse. This technology has the ability to use the algorithmic analysis in detecting the impending collapse of a building. This has been important in preparing the firefighters to be ready for any eventuality. This has been an important innovation in the development of fire safety systems. Training of the firefighters has also been an issue for a long time. There are numbers of deaths that have been reported of these people during firefighting trainings. The computer simulation method has been made to help the decision makers come up with correct determinations of the training facilities. Some of these firefighting trainings have been done without proper conditions required for the trainees. There are deaths that have always been reported due to the lack of ventilation in the training facility. This is the reason the computer simulation system is important to aid determine the right conditions.
Personal Alert Safety Systems have been enhanced to a great extent. Communication has been enhanced and help can easily be accessed when the need arises. One of the technologies is known as the thermal technology. Manufacturers and other people have resorted to enhancing more signaling measures that ensure that the response is gotten as soon as it is required. Smoke alarms are also important innovations in firefighting. These help in alerting the occupants of the premises of the fire outbreaks. In effect, firefighters are able to respond to the alarm promptly due to the transmitted signal.
In conclusion, there is a big proof that the trends in the computer technology have immensely contributed to the efficient administration of firefighting. Signals can easily reach the firefighting stations due to the automation of signaling systems. Firefighters are also able to digitally assess the conditions of the burning place in order to make appropriate decisions for the operations. Most importantly, firefighting has been made easier due to the automated machines, which are more precise in the execution of the duties. This will lead to a reduction of the number of deaths of the firefighters annually. Nevertheless, there is a need for more research on even better ways of public administration of firefighting. There is also a need for the developers to put into use the available technological measures which are already in place to aid in fire signals. This also involves the appropriate design specifications required. The right application of these technologies will eventually lead to better methods of managing fires and other threats.