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3 things we’re watching at FDIC 2024

How the future of firefighting will be impacted by artificial intelligence, electrification and 5G communications on fire and EMS


Photo/Marc Bashoor

FDIC is the biggest public safety stage in North America and a great opportunity for companies of all sizes and functions to unveil game-changing new products and new features to vehicles, rescue equipment, PPE, communications tools and software services. The FireRescue1 and EMS1 teams will be on the ground at FDIC, and as we tour the exhibit hall and visit with attendees, we’re keeping a close eye on three topics of high interest.

Artificial Intelligence built into public safety

It has been more than a year since generative artificial intelligence (AI) large language models, like Google Gemini, ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot, began upending everything, from writing and teaching to software coding and data analysis to graphic design and video creation.

At FDIC, we’ll be looking for ways that generative AI and machine learning are being integrated into fire and EMS. AI has an obvious and ongoing role in computer-aided dispatch, incident reporting and resource allocation and spotting wildfires, but has the public safety software industry found ways to integrate AI into incident command decision-making and situational awareness, fire prevention and inspection, developing novel PPE materials, triaging patients, assisting with telemedicine patient care, and delivering on-demand, individualized training?

Electrification of public safety

A growing number of fire departments and EMS agencies are dabbling in electric vehicles. Mesa (E-ONE Vector), Portland (Pierce Volterra), Madison (Pierce Volterra) and Los Angeles (Rosenbauer) are early adopters of all-electric and electric hybrid fire apparatus. We’ll be talking to these fire apparatus manufacturers and others, plus fire department representatives, to better understand where we are in the adoption curve for all-electric fire apparatus. Though we are probably still early in the curve, for a vehicle that is expected to last 10 to 25 years, now is the time to prepare for your department’s first electric apparatus purchase.

We’ll also look at the improvements in battery-powered tools, lighting and other on-scene electronics. The fire scene of the future is likely to be a lot quieter as the fire service transitions from noisy diesel engines and gasoline-powered generators and rescue tools.

5G connectivity

AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon continue to build-out powerful 5G communications networks with dedicated space for first responder communications. At FDIC, we’ll be looking for examples of how hardware and software products are harnessing the speed and capacity of 5G for personnel tracking, live video streaming and collecting and sharing more data. For a long time, the promises of 5G have included drone gathered intelligence, real-time sharing of video and communications, and uniting communications across public safety disciplines. We want to know the 5G-powered products and capabilities that are coming online and, more specifically, how fire departments and EMS agencies are already using them.

What are you going to watch for at FDIC? Email us your FDIC interests and questions and follow our complete FDIC coverage on FireRescue1 and EMS1.

Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is the Lexipol Editorial Director, leading the efforts of the editorial team on PoliceOne, FireRescue1, Corrections1, EMS1 and Gov1. Greg served as the EMS1 editor-in-chief for five years. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from the University of Idaho. He is an educator, author, national registry paramedic since 2005, and a long-distance runner. Greg was a 2010 recipient of the EMS 10 Award for innovation. He is also a three-time Jesse H. Neal award winner, the most prestigious award in specialized journalism, and the 2018 and 2020 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Connect with Greg on Twitter or LinkedIn and submit an article idea or ask questions by emailing him at