A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to be the opening keynote speaker for the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’ Association annual conference in St. Augustine, Florida. In the room were key executives from a broad cross of section of the industry. As with all my talks, I did a tremendous amount of research — its fascinating what you can find with some very targeted searching and analysis. That’s why I’m known for the customized insight I provide in my talks. What I learned from this industry is the perfect allegory for what is now happening in most major industries — the acceleration of what is known as customer-focused, or better yet, customer-initiated innovation. For as long as there have been firetrucks, the industry has operated pretty well much the same. The companies that manage these complex vehicles determine what it is they plan to build, present it to the customer (cities, towns, airports ….), who might choose to buy it, or not. Of course, through this time, there has been tremendous change to the sophistication of the offerings and the complex of the machine and support systems. But what is also apparent is that the entire fire and safety industry is grappling with faster change, such as:
- the rapid emergence of new hazards and risk (roof photovoltaics & solar present complex new challenges for large industrial or residential fires; there have been several cases of a fire chief pulling back his team due to uncertainty in terms of assessing risk)
- faster, more complex challenges (new chemicals, nano materials, more pipeline risk with the rapid growth of shale oil, as well as increased rail transport risk)
- the rapid advancement of science (arson / forensic skills and knowledge requirements are accelerating at a furious pace
- even such things as rapidly fluctuating community size (100,000 people for tailgate parties) leads to the new emergence of new risk that must be properly managed from a safety perspective.
- and lots more!
- aerial drones linked to in-truck multi-screen video system
- robotic building explorers linked to real-time, 3D location databases
- instant spectrometry air-sampling analyzers with intelligent fire suppression technology suggestions