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Newmarket's fire department first in Canada to adopt new smart technology in its fleet

Central York Fire Services will be using the state-of-the-art SAM system to operate a new fire truck's pump system, usually a complicated manual process

Central York Fire Services is the first fire department in Canada to have a fire truck with a Scene Apparatus Manager (SAM) system installed onboard.

With "smart" versions of everyday items from thermostats to doorbells becoming widely popular, this may be the country's first smart fire truck.

The SAM operates the truck's fire pump system, which is a complicated piece of machinery that takes water from a fire hydrant and feeds it into the hoses at whatever pressure firefighters require.

Operating the pump is a complicated task that requires special training. CYFS Deputy Fire Chief Claude Duval describes the SAM as giving the pump operator "a second set of hands," adding it will improve safety for firefighters.

"That system can detect a critical failure or a problem in your water supply before even a well-trained pump operator would have time to react, determine if there is a critical failure, and take the steps necessary to fix it," said Duval.

"At the end of the day, we need to make sure those firefighters not only have water but also the right amount of water at all times."

SAM is expected to make the job much easier and efficient by automating much of the process.

The system is controlled by a tablet computer located inside the truck. What once required manually opening and closing valves to do things like bleed off air and charge individual hoses can now be done with a few taps and swipes of the screen.

The pump operator can even take the tablet up to 30 metres away from the truck and make adjustments to the water flow from wherever they are.

"With the SAM system, you pull up and engage the pump, and by the time you get out of the truck, it's already flowing water," explained Capt. Andrew Burdette.

The SAM system came installed in the fire department's new truck, which was delivered a couple of weeks ago. Firefighters have been training on the new system, and it is expected to go into service soon. 

The technology is not new per se, having been used by fire departments in the United States for a few years. After learning that CYFS was receiving a new fire truck, the system's manufacturer approached the department offering a discount as a way to break into the Canadian market.

Duval could not say how much the department paid for the system.  

With the arrival of the truck, Newmarket and Aurora's fire department became the first fire department in the country to adopt the technology, although other trucks with the system are going out to other departments soon.