3 Interesting Firefighter Advancements
Since humanity started playing with fire, there’s been a need for some control over the flames.
Luckily, mankind has come a long way from rubbing two sticks together to create a spark; as such, the demands of firefighting have evolved too. Since firefighting technology has been in existence—roughly the second century B.C.E.—there’s been no method or practice that hasn’t undergone major transformation and upgrade as fire scientists have come to better understand the nature of fire.
Understanding the Behavior of Fire
Fundamental to any change in fire apparatus or fighting techniques has been the research and results that helps us better understand the properties and behaviors of fire. How it starts, spreads and affects objects and elements it interacts with is a crucial component to predicting how best to respond to certain types of fires. The difference between, say, a wildfire and a technical fire or grease fire lies in how it must be tamed, chiefly, and now that people are able to understand how to interact with the different types, we’re better able to prevent massive destruction when fires occur.
The Tools We Use to Address and Fight Fires
It’s predicted that the oldest firefighting apparatus was invented in Alexandria, Egypt. It was a water pump, lost to history and then reinvented in the sixteenth century A.D. when water pumps needed to be moved by hand or by horse. Steam-powered engines came about in the seventeenth century, and even as recently as the 1970s, fire engines have been advancing by leaps and bounds. Modern updates include onboard protection systems.
Additionally, thermal imagine cameras are a relatively new development, first used by the U.S. military and then introduced to FDNY in the late 1980s. These days, most engines are equipped with the technology.
Firefighters’ Personal Gear
It’s hard to believe that firefighters ever went without it, but they weren’t always uniformed in self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) that protects the respiratory system. Smoke inhalation can be fatal in certain environments and quantities, but modern uniforms include not only the breathing assistance but other important devices for firefighter protection. Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) and Automatic Distress Signal Unit (ADSU) technologies are commonly standard today, helping to save the lives of those who help save others.