Fighting Fires With Tech To Keep Firefighters Safe

One of the new fire fighting tools are specialised drones.

 

AFTER the black summer bushfires we all know that something has to change.

Our attitude to climate change being one of these.

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Another, the way we go about fighting fires.

Technology is now being deployed in new ways to help our firefighters and to put safety first.

New technology is being deployed across NSW to bolster firefighting efforts and safety, including ground-breaking drones providing firefighters with specialised images and data from incidents in ‘real time’.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott joined Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Paul Baxter at the Emergency Services Academy in Orchard Hills last week to inspect the newest technology designed to enhance firefighter situational awareness, and improve incident planning and preparation.

The tech package will see a $57.4 million investment by the NSW Government, as part of its overall $480 million response to the Independent Bushfire Inquiry following the Black Summer Bushfires of 2019/20.

The ‘connected firefighter’ package includes Drones or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) which provide images and data from incidents in real-time, to assist firefighters with incident planning.

These drones can now also assist HAZMAT crews with chemical and gas detection.

Also being deployed on the ground will be Cell On Wheels (CoWs) are mobile modules equipped with communications technology, which can also provide power for extended periods, especially useful in remote parts of the State without coverage.

These new technologies will be teamed with upgrades to FRNSW Mobile Command Centres, ensuring communications between incident management teams and firefighters.

To enhance communications Vehicles will become WiFi hubs or Vehicle as a Node (VaaNs) which will provide mobile 4G network in remote locations where satellite connection is limited.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said that the NSW Government is providing record funding towards initiatives which are bolstering our community safety.

“What is apparent is that our emergency services are entering a tech boom, one which rightly puts NSW ahead of the pack this bushfire season,” Mr Elliott said.

“These assets will ensure our first responders are safe as they enter dangerous and volatile fire grounds to protect their communities,” he said.

Commissioner Baxter said the investment will see fire trucks equipped with satellite communication capability to ensure radios can be upgraded remotely for faster, more efficient support across regional areas.

“Responding to emergencies in ways that are timely, safe, and effective relies on having up-to-date IT and communications systems and equipment. It ensures that FRNSW is prepared for anything,” Commissioner Baxter said.

“Resources such as RPAS, two-way pagers, upgrades to our Mobile Command Centre and Cells on Wheels, provide smarter interoperability for not only our firefighters on the ground, but also our communications personnel behind the scenes,” he said.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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