Wireless Communications Promote Firefighter Safety
Headset communication systems are no longer considered a luxury but a necessity for a fast-growing number of fire/EMS first responders
Article is a Fire Industry Today column from "Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment"
By Bob Daigle
David Clark Company Incorporated
Communication is critical for firefighters during all phases of fire service response, whether the call is for an actual fire or is medical-/EMS-related. Not surprisingly, during the past two decades we have witnessed unprecedented growth and acceptance of wired headset/intercom communication systems by thousands of fire departments. Headset communication systems are no longer considered a luxury but a necessity for a fast-growing number of fire/EMS first responders. There is no question that wired intercom systems using noise-attenuating headsets have dramatically improved communications both en route and at the scene. The success of wired headset/intercom systems in the fire industry has now given way to a new, more effective technology-wireless headset communication systems.
The advent of wireless technology picks up on the advantages offered by wired systems and adds the benefits of enhanced freedom and mobility. With wireless systems, firefighters are no longer tethered to fire equipment and apparatus as in wired system configurations. The added freedom and mobility dramatically improve safety, response time, and situational awareness-both en route to an incident and at the scene.
With wireless communication systems, firefighting personnel can maintain constant communication with the intercom and radio while exiting the apparatus and while maneuvering to and operating the pump panel or turntable. Wireless systems are especially useful for aerial applications because bucket crews can communicate freely and operate the aerial bucket. Wireless systems also help maintain communications for dozens of other operations, including retrieving extrication tools and rescue equipment, setting vehicle stabilizer bars, and enhancing communications while walking the perimeter of the scene. Because fire personnel are untethered to equipment and apparatus during these operations, freedom and mobility are increased while communicating clearly at a normal voice level over roaring engines, blaring sirens, and other ambient noise at the scene.