Editor’s Opinion: Technology Redux

I’ve read a few items, some of them even here in this magazine, lamenting the loss of trade shows this year.
Chris Mc Loone

It has certainly been a rough year for trade shows—of that, there is no doubt. It has been rough for those who attend the shows; those who plan the shows; those who own the shows; and, of course, those who exhibit at the shows. Like training, there’s nothing like the real thing. There’s nothing like a rig catching your eye and your being able to walk right over to it, climb in, get a feel for it, get back out, take a look at compartments and equipment layouts, and talk to someone at the booth about the rig. Then, you walk away and the next rig catches your eye, and the process repeats. It’s a great time. And when it’s at a show like FDIC International and you know you’re getting the first look, it’s even better.

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Over the years, I’ve written about embracing technology, and in recent months, I’ve discussed embracing digital solutions. My fire company has done so on the training side, although recently I’ve been able to start in-person training again. We’ve discussed how fire apparatus manufacturers have begun conducting final inspections “virtually” via any one of the myriad online meeting applications available today. So, it’s happening. But until recently, it has felt like something has been missing. Sure, there’s a lot of education out there happening virtually, but what about the rigs?

As I write this, a fire apparatus conference and expo pioneered by the REV Fire Group and the Clarion Events Fire & Rescue Group just wrapped. Over the course of five weeks, we had an opportunity to see 19 vehicles in depth from E-ONE, Ferrara, KME, Spartan ER, and Spartan Fire Chassis. And, it wasn’t just a rig event. On the last day, we covered new clean cab technology (think sterile cabs) and AXIS smart truck technology to assist in managing your department’s fleet. It was a new platform, and it was a great five weeks. Attendees got the chance to walk around the trucks and ask questions of product specialists and industry experts in real time. Did I mention it was a conference as well? You don’t get much better than fire trucks and FDIC-powered education, and that’s what attendees got a chance to experience—digitally. It was the perfect combination. Although I said it just wrapped up, it’s not really over. You can still visit www.revtruckexpo.com to register and view everything on demand. And, there are ways to contact REV personnel for more information. Just register and log into the portal.

We’re not done yet. Expect to see more product-based events online from the Clarion Events Fire & Rescue Group in the coming months.

Speaking of technology, in this month’s “FA Viewpoints,” Ricky Riley makes the statement: “We sometimes just want to blame the name of the company on the front of the truck rather than the real cause of the issue. Regardless of who builds our rigs, any department has a say in every component on the truck.” This month’s Viewpoints covers maintenance challenges, and certainly when we talk about technology, it can be challenging. New technologies come so quickly that we sometimes don’t have an opportunity to master them before the next one comes down the pike. And, often, instead of blaming the technology we choose for a problem—no matter what that problem might be—we blame the name on the front of the truck.

Fire apparatus today are collections of components. A builder might fabricate a cab and chassis followed by the body of the rig. But beyond that, it’s not supplying its own seats, its own pump (although there are some exceptions), its own lights, etc. The fire department chooses these components. When it comes to specing a rig, own up to choosing the components if they don’t work the way you want. The manufacturer built what you asked it to build according to the specs you provided. And, if you left these decisions to the manufacturer, well, the ultimate onus still falls on the department for approving the set of specs.

I’m really looking forward to continuing to explore how we can connect you with various manufacturers of the apparatus and equipment you need to do your job as we await the return of in-person events. Stay tuned.

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