Waterous Company’s One Step CAFSystems, one of several hot products for 2012. Photo Waterous
Mike Kirby’s Picks
Scar Designs’ QuickStop Fire Sprinkler Tool
When I first saw the QuickStop fire sprinkler tool, I knew it was truly a unique find. Designed by a firefighter, the QuickStop appears to be one of the first easy-to-use tools for shutting down a broken or activated sprinkler head. The beauty of this product: The user can insert a cartridge into the tool head that activates the tool, but then you can leave the cartridge in the sprinkler head, which will stop the flow of water but still allow the system to stay in service. The cartridges are also rated, so if another fire occurs, the same head will activate again. The QuickStop will work on upright, pendent and sidewall sprinkler heads, and each tool comes in a kit with a storage case and spare cartridges. After using this device, you may never want to use a wedge to stop or slow the water flow from a sprinkler head again.
Scott Safety’s Eagle Attack Thermal Imaging Camera
The Eagle Attack thermal imaging camera from Scott Safety is small (not much bigger than a flashlight) and lightweight yet durable, as it features built-in protection around the screen and on the corners. It also provides high-quality resolution—which isn’t commonly found in such small devices. Holding the camera immediately makes you realize that the design takes firefighter use into consideration; its ergonomics allow it to be held easily while wearing fire gloves. Whether you’re searching for life or fire or supervising hoseline advancement, the smallest firefighting devices also seem to be the most user-friendly lately, which proves that Scott Safety and other manufacturers are truly thinking of the end user: firefighters.
Firecom’s Wireless Headsets
Too often on the fireground, engine company drivers try to accomplish multiple tasks in 1–2 minutes. While helping to stretch lines, obtain a water supply and get additional hoselines ready for service, the apparatus operator also tries to listen to a portable radio (almost always with a lot of ambient background noise) so they can receive critical communications about starting water, water loss or increasing pressures. Firecom’s wireless headsets seem to drastically reduce background noise and come with an added plus: They don’t tie the operator to a plug on the pump panel or portable radio, allowing them to move freely. These headsets could be used by fireground commanders, accountability personnel or command stations to ensure vital communications on the fireground are heard and transmitted.
Greg Jakubowski's Picks
CommandSim’s SimsUShare Mobile App
Besides hands-on training, there are few training evolutions I like better than those that make firefighters think about how to handle incidents at target hazards in their coverage area. It’s fine to look at some anonymous building and try to imagine how your department would respond if the structure were in your town, but ideally, you should practice how to handle situations in buildings that really are in your response area. The team at CommandSim has been helping emergency responders and instructors put realism into their size-up and tactics training program for several years. Old firefighters like me might remember using slide projectors with photos of buildings, overhead projectors with spinning wheels, and sand and brushes to create the illusion of smoke and fire coming out of buildings—but those items don’t cut it in today’s world. The SimsUShare mobile application allows firefighters to have training software right at their fingertips—on their mobile device. With this app, firefighters can take one or more pictures of real buildings, and then place fire, smoke, etc., right onto the room or building for immediate “chalk talk” sessions. What a great way to prepare and train.
Troxfire’s TruForce Forcible Entry Training System
Firefighters love carrying their irons, but how many firefighters are really proficient in using these tools? And how often do your firefighters train on forcing a door with these tools? When the time comes to force one or more doors quickly, how confident are you that your crew will be able to do so? If needed, you could perform forcible entry training right in your own station. Well, you say, we’ve tried that but it didn’t go over very well with our facility’s maintenance team. In answer to that, Troxfire has developed a tool that can be easily retrofitted to any 1¾"-thick commercial steel or solid wood door right in your firehouse. The system uses 1" x 3" and 1" x 2" wood furring strips as the locking devices. When the door is forced, the wood is the only thing that gives and breaks. Replace the wood, and the door is ready to be forced again. Both conventional and hydraulic forcible entry tools can be used on this training prop—both of which require training to be effective on the fireground.
Troxfire Training Solutions, LLC
NASFM’s Free Pipeline Emergencies Training Program
Almost everyone I know likes free stuff, especially when that free stuff is of good quality. The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Transportation and a consortium of pipeline companies, has developed a high-quality instructor training program on pipeline emergencies that’s free of charge. There are approximately 327,000 miles of natural gas transmission pipelines, 1.8 million miles of natural gas distribution pipelines, and 161,000 miles of liquid pipelines in this country, making it quite likely that one or more of these lines is in or near your community. The challenge is how to ensure that first responders are trained to deal with emergencies involving these lines. Greg Noll and Mike Hildebrand, two icons in hazmat training, helped put together a multimedia instructor training program that you can download for free onto your laptop, Apple or Android device. The training program includes seven chapters, covering topics that range from liquid and gas pipeline operations to tactical response guidelines. The program even includes several sample scenarios with a review of actions taken. It’s also self-paced, and I was easily able to download it to my iPad. Best of all, there are lots of pictures!
National Association of State Fire Marshals
Draeger’s UCF 9000 Thermal Imager
Draeger’s new higher-end thermal imaging camera comes with a number of innovative new features. The compact, lightweight design of the UCF 9000 allows users to select functions with just a thumb and index finger, and the display is very clear, with a wide field of view. Features include a black box that automatically records two hours of video, which comes in handy during training or post-incident analysis, and a laser pointer that marks heat sources and points out the fill levels of tanks. The “snapshot” function provides temporary freeze-frame thermal images, which can then be viewed on the display so others can see, and it can operate in several different modes that are adjustable for specific tasks, such as Fire Mode, Person Mode, Thermal Scan, Hazmat Mode, Scan Plus and Normal Image. The manufacturer indicates that the unit is not only resistant to heat, water, dust and other contaminants, but it’s also intrinsically safe (UL Class 1, Division 2), which is a nice feature to have when dealing with hazmat leaks/spills, although it’s not necessarily a key feature in a fire situation where an ignition source (the fire) is already present.
Homer Robertson's Picks
Akron Brass’ SceneStar LED Lighting
Akron Brass recently introduced its new series of LED lighting called SceneStar. The fire service already uses a number of LED lighting products, but Akron has raised the bar with SceneStar. While still useable as a great fixed scene light on apparatus, this new series of lights can also be made portable by simply mounting the LED heads on small, portable generators, tripods or poles. The SceneStar series features “instant on” operation; it needs no warming up to reach full brightness. The LED lights emit a super-clean, vibrant white light that provides an extended light footprint. Power requirements are much lower than Quartz halogen lights, which is good because it allows you to use more lights without increasing your power source size. Depending on which model you select, these units can produce up to 20,000 lumens, an increase of 80% over comparable halogens. The SceneStar series of lights is also available in AC and DC versions.
Akron Brass Company
The Jammer was originally developed in the law enforcement sector so that officers could keep self-locking doors from closing behind them and so that later-arriving officers could see and follow their fellow officers’ route into a building. But the Jammer has some great fire service uses as well. It’s a great tool for keeping doors open, preventing them from locking behind you during a search or closing on a hoseline. They are super lightweight, so you can carry several in your pockets without adding a lot of bulk to your PPE, and their yellow color makes them easy to see so you don’t leave them behind. To use, simply place one in the upper hinge area of a door, and that’s it! Unlike wedges, the Jammer’s design prevents it from coming loose as people come and go.
The Jammer USA
Waterous Company’s One Step CAFSystems
One issue firefighters encounter when operating a modern-day fire apparatus with a compressed air foam system (CAFS) is the number of steps required by some systems to get foam out of the end of the hoseline. In contrast to that, the One Step CAFSystems by Waterous are extremely easy to use—you just press one button for the hoseline that you intend to operate. There are many different types of CAFSystems, ranging from mid-ship to slide-in to crossmounts, but each type uses Class A foam to make great compressed-air foam without lots of steps that could slow you down when trying to get the line into service. Waterous has also overcome one of the major downfalls of other systems associated with CAFS operation: Higher incoming pressures from hydrants don’t affect the air production, which allows you to continue to make quality foam.
IMMI’s Ready Reach Seatbelt Systems
One of the most commonly heard complaints about fire apparatus seatbelts is how difficult they are to use while wearing PPE. Most apparatus manufacturers use standard automotive-style seatbelts in the trucks, but IMMI has recently developed the Ready Reach Seatbelt System, which adds extra length to standard seat belts and allows firefighters to reach and buckle the belt with one hand—even while wearing PPE. The product can be retrofitted to older apparatus, which is great in these difficult economic times.