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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

The role of technology in modern fire suppression

The basic aim of firefighting hasn't changed in centuries

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: With a device recently unveiled that fights fire with zaps of electric current, check out Chief Adam K. Thiel's take below.

Wow! I really had to check this story out to make sure it wasn't a few days early for April Fool's Day. It might sound like science fiction, but sure enough, it's true.

For literally hundreds of years, firefighters have been charged with "putting the wet stuff on the red stuff."

Just imagine how our strategy and tactics might change if we didn't have to carry water on board our engines, pumpers, tankers, and tenders; or worry about establishing a reliable supply from hydrants and static water sources?

Imagine the potential benefits of a fixed fire protection system using this technology; with no plumbing, piping, or water damage.

Now, it seems unlikely that we'll get away from water and other "wet" extinguishing agents anytime soon.

The technology demonstrated in this story was used to extinguish a very small fire under controlled conditions, but the underlying principles certainly seem scalable to larger events; if a delivery mechanism can be devised. (Maybe 22nd-Century fire engines will carry large electrical generators instead of water tanks?)

The bigger issue is the role of technology in modern fire suppression. Although we have much better equipment, apparatus, and training than our predecessors, the basic aim of firefighting hasn't changed in centuries.

Can you think of anything else that's been done (essentially) the same way, for that long?

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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