Who drives innovation in the fire service? Is it vendors? Are they pushing technologies and creating innovation for the fire service?
After years in the industry, I can tell you the companies serving the fire service are in fire houses, eagerly working with the fire service. But adopting technology in the fire service is a whole different animal.
Fire innovation is peer-driven. Two main factors support this conclusion:
- When you’re putting your life on the line, you only trust what others have used or what you have trained with—period.
- Budgets are limited and you want to ensure others have had great experiences before your purchase.
In 2008, my career began in market intelligence and product development; nine years later, I work for one of the world’s largest emergency-response training organizations, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). At TEEX, we work to identify the most innovative technologies for first responders so we can train on them.
Every day, I strive to move innovative technologies to the fire service and this requires adoption by the men and women of the fire service. It didn’t take long to recognize the guiding principle that “the fire service is peer-driven adoption.” This sent me on a search to find the largest and most respected megaphone to tell the fire service about the amazing technologies we were working on. That megaphone was and is the IAFC and its Technology Council.
Coincidentally, the IAFC’s Tech Council was formed in 2008, the same year I joined TEEX. It was formed specifically to serve as a knowledge center for technological development that affects the fire service. In the fall of 2011, I was formally introduced to the Tech Council while hosting an evaluation of an environmentally friendly fire suppressant.
It was an amazing round of testing: aerial drops with an aircraft, room and content fires, and showcasing the products ability to save half of a dried Christmas tree. But it was the meeting with the members of the Tech Council—experienced, well-respected fire chiefs who were all eager to hear third-party results of the product—that made me know immediately the IAFC Tech Council was the missing link to help me bring innovation to the fire service. The IAFC Tech Council is all about peer-driven innovation.
There are three ways you can get involved in helping us bring innovation to the fire service:
- The Tech Council is actively looking for technologies, companies and leaders to help us push innovation into the fire service. The council works with innovative technologies in two ways: We review third-party test results and distribute peer-reviewed results to all IAFC members. We also send council members to witness technology demonstrations and third-party testing first-hand, generate a peer-reviewed report and distribute it to the IAFC members. To learn more about joining the Tech Council or to present a technology, apply at IAFC.org/TechCouncil.
- It’s critical for technology to address your needs in the fire service, and that starts with your input on greatest needs, concerns, gaps and desire for solutions. Provide your input at TEEX.co1.
- The Tech Council will take the lead in bringing the fire service information on innovative technologies and what’s required to adopt them. The council will roll out a live-broadcast web series for “Unmanned Systems on the Fireground.” We’ll bring subject-matter experts from federal aviation, academia, industry and leading-edge fire departments to raise awareness and provide a forum for your questions. Register now to learn more about the series at IAFC.org/TechCouncil.
It’s a great honor to serve the fire service and IAFC members. Fire innovation is peer-driven and it’s with your input that we’ll continue to advance technology for the fire service.