Fighting Fires with Technology

In an effort to save lives, firefighters in Syracuse, New York are utilizing the latest technology to fight fires. Let’s take a look at how Engine One Company is testing new equipment like high-tech thermal imaging drones.


In an effort to save lives, firefighters in Syracuse, New York, are utilizing the latest technology to fight fires.

Let's take a look at how Engine One Company is testing new equipment like high-tech thermal imaging drones.

Take a look.

[ Engines running ]


I'm the captain of Engine Company Three.

I work on shift with a crew of three firefighters, so I am an Engine Company captain that works the lines with the fire department.

I also am the program coordinator as we're getting our drone program up and running.

Why it is important to utilize the best and most advanced technology in this line of work?

So really for us, time makes a big difference in a lot of things that we do.

Once we're on scene, the faster were able to deploy our resources, the faster we're able to deliver medical care, or get in and put out a fire.

That time makes a big difference, and all of the little things that happen to save time make a big difference in the end.

When thinking about these new methods and new technologies and stuff, what do you look for?

Like, an instance, what did you look for in the drone to know that it could help do what you do?

So for the drone, that was really balancing what the fire department's mission is and what that technology could bring in.

So we knew, for example, thermal imaging was going to be an important thing for us.

There's a lot of technology out there in the cameras.

We do use thermal imaging on our frontline rigs.

We use that every fire we go to.

There was a lot of drone technology that did use thermal imaging and a lot of drone technology that didn't.

So we really had to evaluate the drone platforms and then the camera that came with it and the photography aspect of it, how that would work best for our mission.




Arms unfolded and locked.

All right.

Unfolded and locked.

The platform that we went with was the Yuneec, and it's the H520, and really the reason we went with that one is the camera on it is a CGOET.

That camera gave us the best combination of still photography, video and thermal imaging.

One of the things that really led us down the path of selecting that platform to carry that camera was the fact that we could see the thermal imaging picture in picture with a standard video feed.

It has a dual camera system.

It's called a CGOET.

That allows us to take up to 20-megapixel still shots, 1080p video, and it also has a camera that allows for low-set, low-light video.

Says it sees about approximately 20 times better than the human eye.

We're allowed to fly it, in some areas, up to 400 feet above any incident where we never had a vantage point 400 feet above any incident before.


Let our viewers have an understanding of what the foam is, how it works and why it helps in our type of climate here in this region.

So really, we use two different foams.

We use a class A foam.

The class A foam is used on all of our fire apparatus, all of our engines, all of our pumpers.

It adds a surfactant to the water, and it also gives it that foaming capability, and as we're overhauling a fire, it becomes really important, again, to get that water in and to keep that from rekindling or furthering that fire extension.

The other foam that we use that's carried by our hazmat team is a class B foam, and that's used for hydrocarbons, petroleums, any kind of spill along those lines.

It's a film forming, so it puts a film over top of those liquids.

If it is on fire, it'll smother that fire, and it has a cooling effect through the application of the water-foam mixture.


Those that are in the upper ranks, that have... are veterans of this job and have been doing it for a long time, is it then sometimes challenging to translate the ideas of new technologies?

There is a lot of openness to it.

However, we are rooted in tradition, so just that, you know, even though technology has improved the materials we work with and improved our tools, a lot of those still resemble fire fighting of old.

We still send water down the hose.

So specifically with the drone, once we were able to show people physically what its capabilities were, I think that opened up a lot of opportunity for people to say, 'Okay. There really is some different mission sets,' and we can start to think about how to integrate it into what we do a little bit differently.

So the training exercise that we conducted was very useful to say, 'Here's the hands-on physical and visual description of what this is,' so people can really see it firsthand.

I would say that, for me, any technology that helps make our job safer, any technology that would have an impact on firefighters' being able to go home at the end of their shift, anything that would help reduce line-of-duty deaths, any technology that comes along that way, that's a positive for us.