Comment: Where to next?
The pandemic wears on, wears us down and keeps wearing new variants, but the belief that we are on the brink of a better normal is here with the influx of vaccines (I write with hope from Ontario, site of a just announced four-week lockdown and province-wide school closures). After a year and then some (and probably a little more), where to next? What do we take with us from here? As those answers sort themselves into actualities, technology is sure to be one of the most analyzed pandemic revolutionaries on the list.
Technology and the pandemic are synonymous with video chat. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and any other video chat platform are sure to find their long-term place in the mix of communication mediums. We all know what Zoom fatigue is by now, but the opportunities technology is bringing should not be overlooked for fatigue of it. Technology should not be so pressingly synonymous with the internet or computers either. Innovations abound all around us.
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines technology as “the science of the application of knowledge to practical purposes.” Globally, the internet and this science of application forged minds to give us COVID-19 vaccines in record time. In the fire service, this scientific application of technology is driving innovations that also achieve healthier outcomes. The cover story of this edition looks at innovations that are part of the movement towards cleaner cabs and fire halls for healthier firefighters. Another feature looks at Billy Bishop airport’s transition to non-fluorine fire fighting foam, a product that seems to be making product headlines these days. Manfred Kihn is back with his third installment of thermal imaging tips. Is this technology-focused edition an editor’s subconscious nod to the power of applied science as it’s played out in the last year? Perhaps. Technology has certainly been on my mind.
But technology is not all benign. Its deployment by humans has impacts, good and bad. Not all innovations are for everyone (I still don’t enjoy online shopping, no matter its proliferation). Fire chiefs and firefighters will weigh the merits for themselves, but even the most nostalgic amongst us can’t help but admit it’s a pretty fascinating time for technology. The adoption of online education and training, remote communications, and retailing e-commerce were the sprinters of the the pandemic (along with our vaccine developers, of course). And everywhere you look, bright minds are making products to help the fire service do their jobs better and more safely. This column is a nod to them, for the effort and ingenuity that is also a desire to serve, just as the fire service does for Canada.