FirstNet and Fire

Fire Services

FirstNet and Technology: Helping to Decrease Health Risks for First Responders

The emergencies that firefighters and other public safety personnel face today far exceed the demands in the past. Today, fire service personnel are expected to handle a much greater number of on-the-job hazards than ever before, and often the increased health risks go unnoticed or left untreated. 

According to the most recent data, firefighters are at an increased risk for developing job-related cancers. The statistics about firefighters and cancer are concerning and deserve attention:

Emergency responders need and deserve a reliable, secure and robust network for day-to-day operations and disaster response and recovery events. In 2016, the National Volunteer Fire Council report, “Critical Health and Safety Issues in the Volunteer Fire Services” supported the concept that interoperable communications is essential to improving safety by allowing firefighters to compile and share vast amounts of “on the scene” data. The FirstNet network will support the tools and technologies that are designed to increase situational and incident awareness to keep first responder’s safe while in harm’s way.

A make shift work table with the tools of a carpenter, and a tablet
The FirstNet network will be a platform that protects firefighters in hazardous conditions with life-saving technologies.

Access to Life Saving Technologies

FirstNet will make technology more affordable and accessible to departments that previously thought perhaps it was out of reach. Today we use applications on our smartphones to make our everyday lives easier and orderly. The applications available on the app stores are often free or very low cost. Just as we track our bank accounts, store passwords, and do point of sale purchases, FirstNet can help with the development of applications designed to track our interactions during emergency situations.

With FirstNet’s Innovation and Test Laboratory in Colorado, FirstNet will create a public safety applications ecosystem that will test, review and distribute innovative devices and public safety apps to firefighters and other public safety entities. This testing will reduce the time to field test and deploy public safety apps on the FirstNet network.

The FirstNet network will be a platform that protects firefighters in dangerous situations with life-saving or “smart” technologies, including:

  • Smart clothing to measure heart and breathing rates and skin temperature;
  • Augmented reality in SCBA facepieces and eye glasses to enhance visuals in limited visibility situations;
  • Access to smartphone firefighting applications,
  • Location Based Services and mapping capabilities to enable firefighter location to enhance fireground accountability;
  • Real-time data sharing via sensors to monitor air consumption in SCBAs, stream and share video;
  • Multimedia and social media use to share information or enhance situational awareness,
  • Access to building systems such as fire control, HVAC and security to size-up a building before entering;
  • Enhanced voice and data capabilities, including: push-to-talk, group-call, direct-mode, and traditional voice with caller identification;
  • Sensors that collect data and detect quantities of carcinogenic toxins in the air of a fire scene.

Learn more at or call 571-665-6100.
Want to get involved?  Contact Mike Worrell, Senior Fire Services Advisor, can be reached at Mike or call 202-815-8455

When you respond to a call, information is an invaluable tool. From running a license plate to identifying where other officers are located, knowing as much as you can before you go in will improve safety and outcomes. But congestion on commercial wireless networks during a large event or emergency or a remote response location can limit your access to a data network  and the vital information you need. That’s where FirstNet can help.

Wether responding to a multi-agency incident or simply sharing data between officers in your own department, FirstNet will provide law enforcement and other public safety disciplines priority network access and improved cover age. Additionally, the FirstNet network can better enable you to:

  • Use new audio reporting tools in the field that will help you be more efficient

  • ƒAccess photos and real-time audio/video feeds

  • ƒImprove your situational awareness with mapping and asset tracking tools

Through a robust consultation effort with states, territories, tribes, public safety associations, first responders, and its Public Safety Advisory Committee, FirstNet has turned to law enforcement as a guiding force in network planning to help ensure the network meets your needs.

The launch of the network will provide mission critical, high speed data services and non-mission-critical voice to augment the capabilities of today’s Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems.

Volunteer law enforcement officers are an integral part of today’s police operations. FirstNet plans to develop and implement policies and plans for individuals who want to transition to the FirstNet network.

Mission critical applications
  • ƒCAD
  • ƒGIS
  • ƒWeather/traffic
  • ƒVideo sharing
  • ƒSite logging
  • ƒEmergency guides
  • ƒEquipment calculators
  • ƒSecure browser
Administrative applications
  • Email/text/calendar
  • Office tools (PDF, Word)
  • ƒRecords management
  • ƒReporting
  • ƒDatabase access
  • ƒMedical references
Secure connectivity
  • ƒStrong user authentication
  • ƒApplication VPN
  • ƒSecure mobile gateway
Device management
  • Device authentication
  • MDM policy controls
  • ƒContainerization and encryption
  • ƒDevice lock and data swipe

“Our big challenge is communicating data and pushing out information during a large scale event. One of them - the ACL music fest, where about 100,000 people will gather in a local park. And if there’s a disaster, the network gets overloaded, and so a broadband network like this would certainly help us be able to communicate and to push out critical information.”

Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr

Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr
Austin, Texas Fire Department

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“We like to have all the information that we possibly can when we’re responding to and managing an incident. I think that’s a lot of what FirstNet is going to be.”

U.S. Fire Administrator

Chief G. Keith Bryant
U.S. Fire Administrator

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