Not long ago, the typical camera found on a fire truck was a backup camera. Today, 360-degree cameras, forward-looking cameras, and in-cab models are becoming commonplace, providing an increased measure of safety for firefighters.
Jason Witmier, national account manager for Safe Fleet’s Fire, EMS & Industrial Group, says Safe Fleet’s FRC makes the inView 360° Vehicle Monitoring System that provides the fire apparatus driver with a 360-degree view around the vehicle and a split screen view on a seven-inch in-cab monitor. “This view allows the driver to see pedestrians and obstacles in close proximity to the vehicle, while a second view on the display switches between front, driver side, curb side, and rear views depending on the operation,” Witmier points out. When paired with a digital video recorder, the forward-facing camera also captures video when an onboard recorder is triggered by events like speeding; rapid stops; or acceleration, swerving, or lane departure, he adds.
“The bird’s-eye view eliminates blind spots through its 360-degree view around the vehicle,” Witmier says. “And, there doesn’t need to be any driver intervention because the views on the monitor change automatically according to the operation, avoiding any driver distractions.”
1 Safe Fleet’s FRC makes the inView 360° vehicle monitoring system that provides a driver a 360-degree view around the vehicle and a split screen view on an in-cab monitor. (Photos 1-2 courtesy of Safe Fleet.)
2 An illustration of the functionality of the FRC inView 360 system.
3 Reverse Camera/Monitor Systems, from Federal Signal, provide the driver with an expanded field of view for enhanced safety. (Photo courtesy of Federal Signal.)
FRC also makes several backup camera systems for fire apparatus in both wired and wireless configurations. FRC uses a seven-inch in-cab monitor for both its wired and wireless backup camera systems and also with its mirror camera system where a WiFi backup camera is paired with a rear-view mirror monitor. It also offers a five-inch in-cab monitor for its wireless backup camera system. “Our wireless backup camera systems boast up to a 100-foot digital wireless range, which is guaranteed to work—even at highway speeds,” Witmier says. “Installation takes less than an hour, and the system comes with an instant pair, which allows the driver to pair the camera to the monitor without leaving the cab.”
Reverse Camera/Monitor Systems, from Federal Signal, provide the driver with an expanded field of view for enhanced safety during backup or while maneuvering a vehicle in challenging environments. A variety of cameras, monitors, and mounting options are available.
Brigade Electronics makes the Backeye®360 camera monitor system that’s designed to assist low-speed maneuvering by providing an apparatus driver with a complete surround view of the vehicle in real time. Brigade offers a choice of 360-degree technologies, both of which work with four ultra-wide-angle cameras that each covers one full side of the vehicle with a viewing angle of more than 180 degrees. By high mounting the cameras on the front, rear, and sides, the cameras are able to capture all of the surrounding area, including blind spots on the apparatus.
Brigade indicates that using Backeye360 allows an operator to easily and more quickly spot and assess hazards, thus increasing safety. Besides eliminating blind spots, the range on the cameras can be tailored to the driving environment. The Brigade system uses the company’s BN360-300 third-generation camera that delivers clear, crisp images because of its high-definition specifications. It has 15 monitor view options, including portrait, landscape, and split screen options.
4 Brigade Electronics makes the Backeye®360 camera monitor system. (Photos 4-5 courtesy of Brigade Electronics.)
5 A view of the placement and coverage of the cameras in the Backeye360 system.
6 Intec Video Systems makes the Video Sentinel system, a pan-and-tilt camera with video functions often used in aircraft rescue and firefighting applications and on aerial platforms. (Photo courtesy of Intec Video Systems.)
7 Safety Vision makes the TotalView cameras and control system. (Photo courtesy of Safety Vision.)
Safety Vision makes backup, side-looking, and the TotalView HD 360-degree camera systems as well as thermal imaging units that can zoom in on a specific location on a fire scene and record what is happening. All its cameras connect via cabling to a DVR, which does the recording, and also connect to monitors so incident commanders can have a live look and respond to situations. The company makes several backup camera versions, as well as side cameras like its SV-622, which has a lower profile than a backup camera.
INTEC VIDEO SYSTEMS
Intec Video Systems makes several series of cameras used by the fire industry, as well as its XL product line, which is a high-end, fully waterproof, and fully submersible unit that is built to withstand extreme vibration. The 500AH series of color cameras has a greater than 120-degree field of view and high-quality optics with very little distortion.
Intec also makes the 600 series, which has the same camera and optics quality as the 500AH but is encased in a streamlined enclosure designed especially for use as a side camera where it is less obtrusive. Intec’s multicamera controller has two inputs intended for side cameras and includes a turn signal trigger that automatically brings that camera up in the display for the operator. The side cameras also can be used by drivers to view an aerial vehicle’s outrigger placement.
In addition, Intec makes forward-looking cameras that give a driver a view from the outside of the vehicle or the top of the rig if it is positioned up high as well as the Video Sentinel, a pan-and-tilt camera with video functions including both color zoom and thermal imaging used frequently in aircraft rescue and firefighting applications and sometimes on aerial platforms.
Rosco Vision makes back- and side-viewing camera systems as well as windshield recording devices, mirrors, and sun visors, all of which are installed by OEMs. Rosco Vision’s side and backup cameras are called Safe-T-Scope, while its mirror-integrated cameras are known as Performa Style. It also offers a Dual-Vision device that attaches to a vehicle’s windshield that has two cameras, one facing through the windshield and the other back through the vehicle to record video and audio data. An accelerometer detects sudden movement and creates a video that’s saved, and the system can record up to 160 hours of high-quality video to an SD card that’s permanently attached to the vehicle and is locked so it’s tamperproof.
REAR VIEW SAFETY
Rear View Safety Inc. manufactures commercial grade backup and side-view camera systems as well as dash cameras and mobile DVRs. The company offers a seven-inch digital LED monitor with a 123-degree field of view to go with its backup camera system, along with a multiplexer that gives a longer lifespan to the camera. Side cameras and a dash camera can be added to the system.
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Editorial Advisory Board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.