Definition: It is an organized fire-fighting and fire-preventing service (as of a city).
Fire services are facing a huge challenge when it comes to keeping their firefighters ready for the tasks; the response times, and communities being safe. Many of the fire departments in the smaller cities are short-staffed because of low or reduced budgets and lack of funds. This also has affected the fire department so badly, it had to partially or in many cases completely shut down.
Cutting budgets and retaining has a huge impact on many of the aspects of fire service operation that includes compliance, training, maintenance of equipment, and majorly in responding firefighters for safety concerns.
For the fire services,
changing from their old-school communications technology to mobile apps and cloud-based platforms is a challenge as well as an opportunity. Firefighters deeply rely on accurate information which helps them to make quick and split time decisions – helping them to process the difficulty and time to prevent the fire from spreading.
If taken care of, maintained, and understood properly, the effectiveness of using mobile platforms for registering the cases can be very helpful to the commander-in0charge of the fire station – giving an upper hand in case of fire.
Getting accustomed to this fast-paced technology can be very difficult since they all have been using the traditional way of communication.
Let’s have a closer look at the 4 critical issues that are faced by fire service today.
Securing Funding & Retention for fire service
According to the U.S. Fire Administration – the fire chiefs majorly rely on volunteers and they often respond to a fire accident place with 10 or less than 10 firefighters. This can be a drawback as it impacts the life safety of citizens as well as the firefighters
Low staff also makes it difficult for the fire departments to follow all the OSHA requirements. If the number of firefighters is low on the fire accident scenes they are probably inadequate to do all the necessary functions. Fire attack, search and rescue, ventilation, water supply, and rapid intervention are functions that need a big crew.
Retaining the firefighter is yet another task. A lot of them who volunteer for this role don’t have time to keep up with the training requirements. The number of volunteer firefighters is also going down since they are committed to a full-time job and their family time.
Ensuring the firefighter’s safety
Firefighters are someone who risks their lives to save others life. Their safety remains a critical and huge responsibility. Firefighters have also known to sacrifice their lives when it comes to saving a person who is stuck deep inside the fire.
Heart attacks which are caused by overexertion and s huge stress are still at the top when it comes to the fatalities of firefighters.
Apart from the huge risk of getting injured or even death; firefighters have a hoisted risk of cancer due to chronic exposure to the smoke that contains carcinogens. An unknown fact – firefighters have a 250% HIGHER chance of suffering from cancer as compared to the general population.
Research posted by IAFC states that, on average, 63 percent of all firefighters will contract cancer. Alongside, the firefighters suffering from behavioral health issues are on the rise. Yet many firefighters fail to get any assistance or they have a lack of access to the help they need.
Upgrading the Fire Service Communications
We have seen a huge boost in people accepting the new tech. no doubt mobile devices are fast and reliable; plus you can carry them with you anywhere. Relying on wireless broadband services is opening new opportunities for fire services. A lot of departments lack the resources to modernize their communication systems.
In the past or should I say in ancient times, firefighters would rely on the pagers. Later they adopted the radio dispatch. And now they are making themselves suit for the smartphone apps and responding to emergencies.
Adapting the new techs are giving good results when it comes to dispatching firefighters to an emergency. Also, it allows you to keep a track of your firefighter’s heart rate and their well being. One such example is the smartwatches – it allows the chief to monitor any firefighters. Giving an upper hand in avoiding any mishap if it comes to an increased heart-rate of firefighters. They can easily connect with someone and ask them to bring the one who is suffering from a drastic change in the heart-rate out of the situation so he can be saved.
Coordinating agency resources
In any big emergency incident, many of the departments’ struggles to coordinate which results in a missed call, or you can say a missed chance.
Coordinating is very useful when any of the team needs a helping hand. Because if there is a delay in response time, it will cost lives and huge damages.
Coordinating is the key when it comes to saving some lives. If a fire accident or an emergency occurs during working hours – many of the volunteers won’t be able to reach on time; as they have to report to the stations and come back to the incident place. Hence it is always better to be in contact with other agencies that can spare them the delayed response time.
Plus, using cloud-based platforms and mobile applications helps in being in touch with all the necessary agencies when the panic hits.
Rising expectations for the fire service
Be it any location or the size of fire that we’re dealing with, fire departments are facing some serious expectations for their service delivery, their response time, search and rescue, etc.
In order to meet all the needs that are expected from fire service, they must be able to do more in less number of people or volunteers.
All the new fire services and the new generation are adopting the new means to connect with people. That includes smartphone apps, smartwatches, to achieve their operational benefits.
We, as responsible citizens, should help them in achieving their goals. We can definitely help them when it comes to low staff count or low funding. It is one of our responsibilities to keep our firefighters safe and free from all the problems they are facing.
Let’s try to make this scenario a bit better by our little contribution.