It would be impossible to count how many times I’ve heard fire chiefs refer to technology as something they know little or nothing about. Many departments, even successful and progressive ones, typically have just a handful of computer-friendly firefighters who do all the heavy lifting associated with technology.
I’m not trying to dismiss this important group of people. In fact, we’ve even harnessed this important group within the IAFC by creating the Fire IT Group. They met for the first time at Fire-Rescue International in Charlotte and they will reconvene again in Dallas this summer.
It’s no longer acceptable for fire chiefs themselves to be technology-averse. We must wake up, dig deep and begin to understand the technology that surrounds our profession more deeply than ever before.
Failure to do so will erode a chief’s effectiveness and understanding of how things work and how solutions can be implemented. From FirstNet and PulsePoint to GIS and P25 radios, an increasing amount of our department resources are intertwined with technology.
In a recent survey conducted by the Safer Building Coalition, almost a third of respondents indicated they were not familiar with FirstNet. This nationwide public-safety broadband system is likely to change our industry more than any of us can imagine.
Technology is here not to complicate our lives (although I sympathize if you sometimes feel this way); rather, it’s going to make us better at our profession and help us obtain resources to do our jobs and strategically deploy resources.
It’s not too late to make a New Year resolution to understand FirstNet, get outside our comfort zone by exploring emerging technologies and learn how computer hardware, software and applications can help us do our jobs more efficiently and effectively.
Fire Chief Thomas Jenkins
President and Chairman of the Board