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Fire service today looks much different than it did 10, much less 15 years ago. In many urban departments, paper maps have been replaced with mapping applications on smart devices showing the best routes to an incident along with the location of fire hydrants and other assets. Instead of arriving on-scene to a building fire with limited information, applications with electronic building schematics provide vital information such as access points, construction type, hazard locations, occupancy load, and even digital pictures which can provide firefighters and incident commanders with information en route to improve safety and expedite firefighting efforts. Calculations to determine discharge pressure for pumps or predict water flow from fire hydrants can be performed instantaneously on mobile apps. In some cases, real-time video can be streamed from the incident location to first responders for a very high degree of situational awareness prior to arriving on-scene.

Many of the innovations in fire service technology have become possible because of the evolution of wireless data networks. To-date, most fire departments have relied almost exclusively on commercial carrier networks for mobile data service. And while these networks typically provide reliable service, they are not always available when and where firefighters need them most. During major incidents when public safety personnel have the greatest need for accessing critical data and applications, carrier networks are often brought down due to high congestion leaving responders without vital tools and information [1].

The availability of electronic information in the fire service is expanding greatly through the development of a wide variety of applications. From electronic vehicle extraction apps that maintain information on the most current vehicle models, to applications which predict wildfire behavior – firefighters are relying more heavily on tools and information to improve safety for themselves and the communities they serve.
Public Safety Long-Term Evolution (PS LTE) will provide public safety a dedicated broadband wireless network to ensure that public safety officials have access to the right tools and information when and where they need it.


[1] – For example, after the Boston bombing, commercial networks went down for 90-minutes during which time firefighters and EMS personnel did not have access to data such as the patient capacity or availability of specialized equipment at medical facilities for the most efficient triage of patients.