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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

The positives of game-changing firefighter technology

The kicker, though, is whether or not fire departments will be able to afford the latest and greatest devices

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: Chief Adam K. Thiel gives his thoughts on the new technology for SCBA masks that gives firefighters "bionic" vision.

We've seen a lot of negative stories about SCBA lately, so it's nice to see a positive example of where technology might be able to take us in the future.

Without question, the "Augmented Reality" mask profiled in this story, coupled with the "flat pack" SCBA developed by the International Association of Fire Fighters in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, and any of several firefighter location systems currently being tested, offer truly game-changing potential for protecting firefighters during interior structural firefighting.

The kicker, though, is whether or not fire departments will be able to afford the latest and greatest technology, especially given the economic climate for the foreseeable future and persistent difficulties supplying basic staffing, apparatus, and equipment in many jurisdictions.

Keeping in mind that most folks have absolutely no idea what we do, or how we do it, it's vitally important to use opportunities like this one (with this story receiving national airtime on CNN) to have a conversation with your citizens, managers, and elected officials about how technological advances might (or might not) affect firefighters in your department.

Stay safe!

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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