Over the last 20 years the fire service has increasingly come to rely on data to make informed decisions ranging from community risk assessments to emergency response performance. The growing sophistication of connected technologies – and firefighters’ increasing reliance on them – is creating new opportunities for the fire service to capture data from a myriad of sources for informed decision making, enhanced situational awareness, speedier response times and increased firefighter safety.
Operationally, fire department leaders use data for purposes like measuring how they are performing against industry benchmarks and determining the closest apparatus to a fire location and what size crew to deploy. They also use data to find out whether prevention efforts are working, how they can improve the speed and effectiveness of their emergency response, where they should build new fire stations and whether they are spending their slim budgets wisely. Firefighters use data to predict the influence of weather on a fire scene and alert them to low air in their SCBA.
“From data intake and preparation to perfecting data analytics models, one of the most important jobs in a fire department will soon be data-related,” wrote U.S. Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell in a 2021 FireRescue1 article on the importance of data in the fire service. “In addition to the establishment of more automated data capture and the proliferation of data from all aspects of the fire service, firefighters and officers must become more data literate. Data, and all that goes with it, must become a major focus of internal training for all personnel. Soon, everything we do in the fire service will either be based on data or have a data component.”
While there will always be a human element, data capture is increasingly automated, enabling internet-connected technologies to communicate with connected software platforms to troubleshoot problems and keep the necessary humans informed up to the minute.
While firefighters have access to a range of data coming from multiple sources such as computer-aided dispatch, incident data and geolocation, now there is a new platform – Captium, a trusted IDEX Fire & Safety brand – that captures telemetry data from vehicles and equipment to make the process of detecting and rectifying malfunctions more efficient.
ADDRESS ISSUES BEFORE THEY BECOME PROBLEMS
Designed specifically for first response vehicles and equipment, Captium connects vehicle health data with critical system components, alerting humans via a web-based platform to maintenance issues and other minor problems before they become major problems.
“What IDEX Fire & Safety has brought into the forefront with Captium is the use of data for making sure the equipment first responders rely on is in its optimal condition,” said Maria Hovanes, director of product management for loose equipment for IDEX Fire & Safety. “The main purpose for Captium is to increase uptime and make sure equipment is operating at peak efficiency. If there are any issues, it creates an automatic notification on any internet-connected device so you don’t have to actually physically have the asset in front of you to know there’s potentially an issue.”
AUTOMATICALLY DIAGNOSE VEHICLE HEALTH
For apparatus, for example, Captium constantly monitors the vehicle and can automatically diagnose the health of the chassis and ensure critical electric controls are operating properly and water flow components are talking to each other properly and running at an optimal pace.
If the Captium Data Hub detects trouble with monitored vehicle components, it can automatically send a real-time email notification to the maintenance captain, your distributor service center or even the OEM. It’s your choice.
For example, if the vehicle has access to Cummins Connected Diagnostics, Captium can analyze the event, diagnose the probable cause and recommend whether the apparatus should be taken out of service immediately or whether the issue can wait for the next scheduled service.
SKIP EXTRA STEPS
Likewise, Captium also integrates with smart hydraulic rescue tools, like HURST Jaws of Life.
“By reading right off of your Jaws of Life cutters and spreaders during a vehicle extrication, Captium can detect faults and provide early alerts so you know if your system’s running effectively, if your tool is running hot, or if your battery is not operating at optimal performance,” said Hovanes. “So as soon as that tool connects via its available network after a call, it’s flagged, and it’ll remain flagged in the system until there is resolution.”
“Because automatic alerts can be set up to go directly to the equipment dealer, this alleviates the extra steps of calling the dealer, having them come out to diagnose the problem, go back to the dealership to get the tools or parts needed for the repair and then make a second trip to come back and fix it,” added Hovanes. “The dealer can, through the system automatically, see what the potential issue is, perform diagnosis and come prepared.”
KEEP ACCURATE MAINTENANCE LOGS AND ASSET MANAGEMENT
Captium also helps departments stay NFPA-compliant with the care, maintenance and record-keeping required for rescue tools. “Users are automatically reminded to inspect and test their tools based on periodic or usage triggers. They can log their maintenance tasks and view the history at any time in digestible reports,” said Hovanes. “So now you’re always in compliance.” Departments with Captium-connected vehicles can also take advantage of centralized record-keeping for the maintenance and care of their fleet.
Because Captium also logs location data, the user-friendly dashboard includes a map view so department leaders can always know the last data upload location of their assets and if they’re in good health or need attention.
“Right away I can understand fully if I have a healthy asset out in the field,” said Hovanes.
Citizens rely on first responders, and first responders rely on vehicles and equipment to help assist in an emergency. It’s critical, therefore, that first responders know their vehicles and tools are in top shape for immediate deployment. When a vehicle or rescue tool needs maintenance or repair, being able to automatically detect malfunctions and troubleshoot issues remotely helps get critical assets back into action with minimal downtime, so fire crews can go on with the important business of saving property and lives.