Technology a vital tool for firefighters on the frontline

Firehoses and ladders are essential equipment for firefighters but today, you are also likely to see them with a rugged tablet in hand as technology becomes a vital tool for fire and rescue services.


written by Will Holmes, Business Manager for Public Sector (Fire, Ambulance & Central Government)

Scroll down

Like many young children, I dreamt of growing up to be a firefighter. It seemed an exciting world and the fearlessness of youth cast my mind aside from any of the dangers. Back then I imagined the appliances screeching to halt and the water pipes and ladders being deployed. However, the landscape is changing, and you are increasingly likely to see a firefighter brandishing a rugged tablet alongside their traditional firefighting equipment as technology becomes a vital tool on the frontline. 

One service leading the way is Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), one of the largest Fire and Rescue Services outside London with over 1,637 firefighters and 41 fire stations. 

When the service was looking to upgrade its Mobile Data Terminals (MDT), it chose 143 Panasonic TOUGHBOOK 33 devices for the front and back of the appliances, using 3tc’s MODAS Professional software to ensure effective communication between control and the vehicles on the move. But as well as a modern MDT, approved for use with the new Emergency Services Network, GMFRS was also keen to equip a rugged mobile computing device in the rear of 53 of its appliances with 4G connectivity.

"We wanted the same capabilities as an office on wheels. The most important criteria were that the devices in the front and rear of the appliances would have the same user interface and access to the same information, but the rear device would be demountable to use outside of the vehicle."

GMFRS chose the rugged Panasonic TOUGHBOOK 33 device, provided by technology distributor Centerprise, and partnering with 3tc to deploy the MODAS software suite. GMFRS is also using MODAS Web, which provides access to mission critical information such as SSRI data sets, live resource location updates (AVL) and other Points of Interest information using a simple and intuitive web solution. Using the TOUGHBOOK device, fire officers can access hydrant location information, building plans, risk cards, operating guidance, and home fire safety checks. 

The software applications integrated with features on the TOUGHBOOK tablet, such as the sensors and cameras, mean the devices in the rear of the appliances can be used for a number of mobile applications. These include carrying out fire risk assessments at vulnerable people’s homes and assessing chemical risk data prior to arriving at a location. The devices can even be used for taking a photo of a number plate at the scene of an accident to instantly access full colour schematics for any type of vehicle to assist in safely removing passengers from wreckage.

"The combination and close integration of the 3tc MODAS software suite with the Panasonic TOUGHBOOK device provides a powerful tool for fire services like Greater Manchester. As well as the MDT, it allows officers outside of the vehicle to have access to the information they need at their fingertips to deal with any situation – using technology to become ever more efficient and effective. The solution has the flexibility to add more applications as needed but always with the peace of mind of the highest levels of security and availability."

It seems today’s firefighter is equally equipped for both the physical and technological challenges of modern firefighting. 


Read more insights…

Sorry there was an error...
The files you selected could not be downloaded as they do not exist.

You selected items.
Continue to select additional items or download selected items together as a zip file.

You selected 1 item.
Continue to select additional items or download the selected item directly.

Download selected file