Today’s fire departments face a myriad of challenges. Increased frequency of disasters and fire events, decreased water supply, increased budgetary pressures and a decrease in available resources combine to create unprecedented risks for urban, rural and wildfire emergency response personnel. This in turn has increased the demands made on the fire incident commander, who now needs to make more complex decisions with fewer assets.
"Innovative technologies aim to address the unknowns, create efficiencies, and optimize current resources within the fire service." -IAFC.org
Emerging technologies have been developed to help fire operations officers address these challenges, yet adoption has been slow. That’s where companies like 3AM Innovations come in: to provide an easier way to integrate multiple data sources and ensure that agencies and departments can make data-driven command decisions in real time.
Below are the top five ways that technologies like 3AM’s FLORIAN platform can help your agency improve incident response and quality of service delivery:
1. Tracking Personnel, Always.
You need to be able to track and monitor the location, safety and needs of your personnel at all times, whether they operate in groups or alone. 3AM enables the real-time tracking of assets on a 3D map, updating statuses in real time and providing responders with an automated, hands-free way to send a mayday signal and call for help when needed. This is achieved using a personal device (e.g., iOS, Android, P25 radio, or Satellite phone) connected to the FLORIAN platform, eliminating the need for expensive, new equipment or complex training. The result is a simple and great tool to track firefighters on the fire ground and inside.
2. Saving Costs While Improving Capabilities.
Smartphones and smartwatches have evolved into valuable alternatives to legacy hardware. Consider the P25 radio as an example, which has served as the standard for push-to-talk (PTT) functionality for many years. PTT, e-trigger, and push-to-stop are being replaced by rugged smartphones that enable active communications, live team tracking, shared mapping and zone creation, touchless PTT, and automatic incident archival. These new features significantly increase the success of both on- and off-grid communications between team members. Phones also continue to innovate, adding satellite-capable functionality and integration with IoT meshed networks. The cost of a P25 radio can be 100-800% higher in cost depending on the type of radio compared to a smartphone. In addition, platforms like 3AM’s FLORIAN are device-agnostic: no matter what device you have, today or in the future, the platform is designed for compatibility.
3. Enabling the Data-Driven Command Vehicle.
The average command vehicle is equipped with a single laptop, and many chiefs operate on a whiteboard. These two resources are not easily shared: if you aren’t next to it, you can’t see it. This limits the ability for remote personnel to help the boots on the ground. Today, a new generation of “smart command vehicles” has the modern satellite/communications systems, integrated live views with multiple map overlays, individual Firefighter-tracking technologies, and blended cellular/satellite routers that enable better video data streams. As a result, the cost to use and maintain these systems decreases, while the fidelity of communications increases. These advancements in fire technology increase situational awareness in a crisis, even in previously communications-challenged environments.
4. Navigating Difficult Areas.
Emergency incidents often occur in the least convenient places. Adverse weather conditions and difficult terrain further complicate a first responder’s ability to act. This is where drones can be helpful. Unmanned Aerial Systems, or UAS, are now able to identify potential hot zones, navigate the hard-to-reach areas of a search and rescue operation, assess a fire scene, drop water, deliver supplies, and monitor a crisis from above, with or without a remote pilot. These units are more affordable than many people realize. In the U.S., there are more than one dozen different drone types available, each costing roughly $700-$3,500. You can further integrate the UAS’s data into a Common Operating Picture (COP) platform like FLORIAN, giving your current crews significantly enhanced knowledge of any incident.
5. Coordinating En Route Teams
Mobile Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) software solutions contain basic maps with address information and light data about the building or location. Occasionally, this information is not complete – yet responding agencies heavily rely on these systems. Now, responding agencies can utilize En Route technologies to optimize every turn for each individual driver on their way to the scene. Many of these, like 3AM’s FLORIAN, provide a shared map experience that instantly puts every responder on the same page. When the tones go out, crews immediately can see the target location in a 2D/3D map view and pull up the closest street view. The incident commander can add specific building sides (A-D, 1-4) directly to the map for all to see. If a 2nd or 3rd alarm is called, the IC can see the ETA of those crews and assign them a specific location to stage, which will auto-update their turn-by-turn routes in real-time. The IC is automatically notified by the software when they arrive. Additionally, arriving teams can see any assets already on-scene and know which hydrants are in use. This helps all teams maximize effectiveness upon arrival.