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The role of AI in modernfire and rescue services

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IFSJ Managing Editor Duncan J. White looks at how the modern fire and rescue service is undergoing a transformation, driven by technological advancements

One such advancement that is increasingly making its presence felt is Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AI has the potential to revolutionise various aspects of firefighting and emergency response, enhancing the capabilities of these critical services.

In this feature, I will explore how AI can play a significant role in the modern fire and rescue service.

Predictive analytics for improved response

AI can be a game-changer in terms of predicting and preventing fires.

Advanced machine learning algorithms can analyse historical data, weather conditions, building structures, and other factors to identify high-risk areas.

By identifying these areas in advance, fire and rescue services can allocate resources more effectively, deploy firefighters strategically, and even implement preventive measures to reduce the likelihood of fires.

Enhanced situational awareness

When responding to a fire or emergency, having accurate and real-time information is crucial.

AI-powered sensors, drones, and cameras can provide firefighters with a comprehensive view of the situation.

These devices can detect heat sources, hazardous materials, and even the presence of people in a burning building.

This data can be invaluable for making informed decisions, ensuring firefighter safety, and optimising resource allocation.

Intelligent resource allocation

Fire and rescue services often face resource constraints, and AI can help optimise resource allocation.

AI algorithms can analyse incoming emergency calls, assess their severity, and recommend the most appropriate response.

This ensures that critical incidents receive prompt attention, while non-emergencies are managed efficiently, reducing unnecessary strain on resources.

Augmented training and simulation

AI can also play a crucial role in training firefighters.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications powered by AI can provide realistic training scenarios.

Firefighters can practice various situations, from basic firefighting to complex rescue operations, in a safe and controlled environment.

AI can adapt these scenarios to the individual’s skill level, making training more effective and tailored to each firefighter’s needs.

Remote firefighting

In some situations, it may be too dangerous for firefighters to enter a burning building immediately.

AI-controlled robots and drones equipped with firefighting tools can be remotely operated to combat fires and assess the situation before human intervention.

This reduces the risk to firefighters and can lead to more effective firefighting operations.

Data-driven decision making

AI can process vast amounts of data in real-time, providing valuable insights to incident commanders.

Machine learning models can analyse factors like wind speed, temperature, building materials, and more to predict fire behaviour.

This information helps incident commanders make informed decisions on evacuation plans, resource allocation, and overall strategy during an emergency.

Improved communication and collaboration

AI can enhance communication within the fire and rescue service and with other emergency response agencies.

Chatbots and natural language processing can automate routine communications, allowing personnel to focus on critical tasks.

AI can also facilitate data sharing and coordination between different agencies involved in a large-scale emergency, improving overall response effectiveness.

Post-incident analysis and learning

After an incident, AI can assist in analysing the data gathered during the response.

This includes identifying what worked well and where improvements can be made.

Machine learning algorithms can help extract valuable lessons from each incident, contributing to continuous improvement in firefighting and rescue techniques.

Challenges and ethical considerations

While the potential benefits of AI in the fire and rescue service are substantial, there are also challenges and ethical considerations to address.

Privacy concerns related to the use of AI[1]powered surveillance systems and data collection must be carefully managed.

Additionally, the reliance on AI should not replace human judgment and empathy, which are essential in emergency response situations.


AI has the potential to revolutionise the modern fire and rescue service.

From predictive analytics and enhanced situational awareness to intelligent resource allocation and augmented training, AI can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of firefighting and emergency response operations.

However, it is essential to strike a balance between embracing AI’s capabilities and maintaining human oversight and ethical considerations.

With careful planning and implementation, AI can indeed play a significant and positive role in the modern fire and rescue service, ultimately saving lives and protecting communities.

This article was originally published in the February 2024 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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