Monitoring Fire Truck Health in Real Time

Cal Fire engineer C, ... ]

Cal Fire engineer C, ... ] Jeff Chiu / AP Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

For fire departments, nothing is more problematic than an out-of-service rig.

Fire departments don’t often get to deploy advanced technology so a connected vehicle platform designed to provide first responders with real-time diagnostics has piqued the interest of some firefighters.

Nashville, Tennessee and San Bernardino, California’s departments have plans to retrofit their fire trucks with Captium, which will monitor the health of the vehicles’ numerous onboard systems and parts.

Produced by Lake Forest, Illinois-based manufacturing company IDEX Fire & Safety—better known for making the Jaws of Life firefighters use to cut people from car wrecks—the software platform is powered by Microsoft Azure Government and Windows 10 IoT Core. And starting July 1, Captium will be added to any custom chassis built by IDEX’s vehicle customers.

Captium’s hardware can also be added to existing fire truck fleets, as Nashville is doing, because departments often use the same rigs for 10 to 20 years.

“The apparatus will send us mechanical inspections, including fluid levels, tire issues, and predicted service issues, while paramedics and firefighters rest,” said Bryan Jones, logistics commander with the Nashville Fire Department, in an emailed statement. "A supply and equipment inventory will be dynamically maintained providing request for resupply in real time. And it will allow for preventive maintenance of the apparatus reducing out of service time."

By extending cloud intelligence to edge devices on rigs, Captium monitors the health of the chassis, critical networked electrical controllers, multiplexing systems, and waterflow components.

Fire trucks are sold just like a car at a dealership and come outfitted with a variety of legacy, proprietary vehicle networks and products. Captium brings those components together to identify any that might not be operating effectively—maximizing rig uptime.

“I come from the fire service as well, and I’m still active,” Rick Zak, Microsoft Justice & Public Safety director, told Route Fifty. “Fire service hates risk.”

If a fire truck goes out of service, Zak added, that can have a significant impact on the safety of a community because the department must shift assets around to fill the gap. The problem can become a regional one if the fire department down a truck is asked to assist a neighboring department with a larger emergency.

Connecting fire trucks into the department’s platform helps catch problems with rigs before small issues become big ones. Issues can range from electrical system shortages to water pumps overheating when cavitation occurs.

Remote diagnostics and troubleshooting are scalable and secure in Microsoft’s cloud, and Captium makes detailed data on fire truck performance and capabilities shareable with maintenance commanders on the ground and other city stakeholders.

“We know these vehicles, networks and products,” said Jeff Zook, IDEX Fire & Safety connected solutions marketing manager. “Nothing makes a city safer than having the vehicle they need to operate actually on the road and able to go to the scene.”

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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