In this feature Hamish Findlay, Public Sector Lead – UK & Nordics, Getac UK Ltd, discusses how rugged technology is helping to solve key operational challenges for firefighters, both on the front line and back at the station.
The role of a firefighter can vary wildly from day to day. For many, this is exactly what makes the job so interesting. But one thing that doesn’t change is the need for technology that’s fit for the task at hand. Whether it’s responding to an emergency incident or conducting fire-safety assessments, using a reliable and robust mobile data terminal (MDT) that’s truly up to the job makes everything quicker, easier and more efficient.
However, most of the environments that firefighters operate in aren’t the kinds of places where standard consumer technology typically thrives. Emergency incident response can be challenging and chaotic, with devices often knocked about and dropped in the line of duty, as well as exposed to water, dirt and extreme temperatures. Even in more sedate environments, such as those found at fire-safety assessments, the physical nature of the work means rough handling, bangs and bumps are all par for the course. In short, devices that aren’t built for these kinds of environments won’t last long, leading to high failure rates, unforeseen device downtime and poor return on investment (ROI).
Fortunately, dedicated rugged vendors like Getac offer an extensive range of rugged laptops and tablets that are purpose built for the challenging environments firefighters encounter every day. Not only can they be used day or night, in sunshine or rain, but MIL-STD and IP certifications mean they can also survive knocks, drops, spillages and vibrations, as well as remain fully operational in both extreme heat and cold. As a result, personnel can stay focused on the task at hand, no matter what situation they encounter.
Furthermore, the latest range of rugged devices feature industry-leading processors and 4G/Wi-Fi 6 connectivity alongside powerful security tools, meaning no functionality is sacrificed for the peace of mind that rugged brings. Unlike past generations of rugged equipment, they are also extremely compact and light, for easy transportation, while extensive battery life and in-vehicle docking/charging solutions means they are always ready to go when needed.
As a result, they offer a truly ‘go everywhere, do everything’ solution. While en route to an emergency incident, crews can navigate to the scene, access hazardous material standard operating procedures (SOPs), review vehicle databases or building schematics as needed, as well as liaise with other emergency teams, all directly on device. Once arrived, the same device can be used outside the fire engine for incident management, or left docked in the fire engine where it can serve as a mobile command post for large incidents.
For many firefighters, this level of versatility is proving a real game changer, aiding situational awareness in a wide range of scenarios and ultimately saving lives, which is the primary aim of every firefighting force around the world.
Why the firefighters of Barcelona chose rugged technology
Before adopting rugged technology, the firefighters of Barcelona found that the ability to do their jobs – and the chances of surviving missions unharmed – mostly came down to a combination of instincts and team coordination.
‘We were heavily reliant on memory, the caller’s indications and paper maps, which made intervention a lot more difficult,’ says Josep Ribon, Chief of the Firefighters of Barcelona. ‘Needless to say, equipment malfunctions were also extremely frequent with previous, less-rugged solutions. As a result, we would often waste vital minutes trying to locate the caller and pinpoint entry access, all of which tipped the odds of success against us.’
The right tool for the job
By switching to Getac’s F110 rugged tablet, the firefighters can now effectively plan their response in real time with the operational team back at the fire station, while en route to an incident. This is because the device comes with high-gain WWAN, WLAN and GPS roof-mounted antennas, which ensure that the emergency crew is traceable and contactable throughout the entire operation. The F110 also features Getac’s revolutionary LumiBond 2.0 touchscreen, meaning crews can easily read data both under intense sunlight as well as through heavy smoke. Furthermore, it can be operated while wearing gloves, with a pen or even in the pouring rain, and remains fully operational in temperatures ranging from -21°C to +60°C. Elsewhere, MIL-STD 810H and IP65 certifications mean it won’t break or malfunction from minor drops or bumps either.
Since switching to Getac rugged devices, Barcelona’s firefighters have found their response to emergency incidents has significantly improved. In addition to all the operational benefits mentioned above, they can also rest assured that any accidental damage is covered by Getac’s industry-leading three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty. As part of this, Getac will collect, repair or replace and deliver a new device within days, saving Barcelona time and money, and keeping crews out in the field, where they belong.
For more information, go to www.getac.com/en/industries/public-safety/