The fire-services industry has recently evolved with the emergence of new technologies such as software tools, facial-recognition software and artificial intelligence (AI). According to a report from Australian government ‘Australia’s Tech Future’1, more emergency services, including fire, are using digital tools to improve data collection and share intelligence in complex situations.
These have provided them better access to key information for critical decision-making and have enabled more seamless communication between central command and field personnel during emergency incidents.
The ability to respond effectively in real time is especially important as it can make a huge difference between life and death. During fire incidents, information is the most essential element to empower firefighters to make decisions, especially when situations can change in an instance. The more information they have when they arrive on scene, the more efficiently they can deal with the incident and pre-empt any and all potential risks. With the right software and hardware technologies, they can also turn any emergency vehicle into a mobile command centre to coordinate all communication, assess risk information, standby to manage crew and track progress of the incident as it unfolds. These can only be done effectively through mobile devices that reliably fulfil both software and hardware needs.
What are rugged devices?
Reliable rugged devices allow, among other crucial applications, information to be sent almost immediately to the command centre. These devices, often rugged tablets, also provide access to real-time information, ensure safekeeping of data and provide overall critical awareness. Implementation of the latest fire safety and intelligence software is also essential, as it puts critical information such as building schematics and hazmat information directly in firefighters’ hands so that they can conduct incident planning more effectively.
Whilst the software technology is important, physical features such as lightweight and portability are also vital, as well as the ability to ensure that the device can withstand challenges like high temperature, accidental drops and connectivity. Rugged devices can fulfil that and more – they look and feel tough, and the usefulness of their physical features are just as important as what they have on the inside.
As such, the decision to invest in the most suitable rugged devices should be weighed from many aspects and the quality of the device should always be a priority.
What to look out for in a rugged device
Climatologists and bush-fire experts in Australia are recently experiencing more aggressive fires due to the warm and dry conditions around the country. As such, not only has the role of firefighters become increasingly important, their ability to effectively manage fire situations has become even more invaluable. Apart from instincts and good judgement during challenging conditions, they require the support of devices that are durable and reliable. For instance, in a live fire situation, rugged devices that are used or left inside the emergency vehicle need to be able to withstand the range of temperature as they are critical for on-scene usage and communication.
In an emergency situation, worrying about the device should be the last thing on the user’s mind. As such, rough handling of devices is inevitable. In fact, the environment is so stressful and unpredictable that drops, shocks, spills, transit vibrations, dust, liquid and more are unavoidable. Hence, rugged tablets made of the highest-quality materials, such as advanced rugged polymer and rubberized absorption polymer, as well as being certified up to MIL-STD 810 and IP67 standards enables them to withstand the demands of extreme conditions. Additionally, devices with the Ingress Protection Marking are very useful for firefighters as they come with protection from water spray from any direction.
In terms of battery life, firefighters appreciate rugged devices that allow long usage, as they work on extended shifts and experience emergencies all the time. Therefore, the devices they use do not only need to have long battery life but also hot-swappable dual batteries that potentially provide infinite battery life. This feature allows the removal of one of two rechargeable batteries and replacement with fresh battery without the device shutting down.
Besides the features mentioned above, touchscreen functionality with the right technology helps firefighters work smartly. For instance, there are devices with touchscreen technology that bonds the display glass with touch panel and LCD, creating a single pane that is more durable and is readable and accessible in direct sunlight. Tasks can be more manageable with a wide range of touch modes including gloves, digitizer pen and stylus. These functions allow firefighters to retrieve risk information and hydrant locations, manage and direct units, and track the progress and timestamp of every manoeuvre as the incidents unfold without them needing to remove their gloves to access the required functions. Getac for instance offers LumiBond™ technology to solve previous needs.
When on the go, having a lightweight and portable rugged device will enhance the comfort level of the firefighter to gather information in an extremely uncomfortable situation. As such, the device should be configurable based on the user’s needs, perhaps with an ergonomic handle, strap or a non-slip case. Additionally, accessories such as fit-for-purpose docking and in-vehicle mounting allows rugged devices to be stably mounted to the fire truck or emergency vehicle. This can help users to easily dismount and mount the devices whenever necessary. Built to withstand everyday use and demanding environments, a vehicle dock is a proven and dependable mainstay for docking rugged devices.
Only the most reliable devices for firefighters
Firefighters must deal with new challenges and extreme weather conditions every day. They rely heavily on their equipment to perform effectively. A device failure can be the difference between life and death, and hence the choice of devices cannot be taken lightly. We at Getac understand the importance of having reliable and efficient devices in challenging situations.
Having worked with firefighters from all around the world, we understand the major challenges they face, and are thus able to offer them the right solutions to ensure safety of others and themselves. Our rugged devices combine powerful fire safety and intelligence software to deliver crucial information directly into the firefighters’ hands, increasing situational awareness, decreasing risks and improving overall safety.
At the end of last year, we also launched the Getac Select™ programme, which combines pre-configured rugged devices, software, accessories and professional services into a series of solutions optimized for individual applications and user groups.
As the role of firefighters become more and more valuable in Australia’s natural-disaster response programme, we look forward to continuing this journey of providing them with the most reliable rugged devices that they can depend on during times of emergency.
For more information, go to www.getac.com/apac/