by Mitchell Magee
As it currently stands many businesses seek to sell generic/traditional tools to fire departments all over the country; this is an entirely unsatisfactory and poor model. Each department is located in a unique area with varying challenges, distinct structural concerns, and staffed by firefighters of extremely different physical realities/abilities; their tools should be similarly unique.
To that end I propose a business model that offers end users (either at the department or even individual level) to answer certain demographic questions or otherwise choose which features would be most important to them and then being able to select from a range of semi-custom tools that will best meet their needs. We should be intelligently designing tools that are ideal for different locations, with location specific features that make it the best possible tool for the actual needs that will be encountered. On a small scale I would explore the types of buildings that would be encountered in an area of operation and partner with firefighters from that area to identify the appropriate features that should be included for that unique challenge. This tool would then be perfectly appropriate for the intended area of service and could be presented to the department in the budget planning season, beyond that it can be made available to individual firefighters for personal purchase if they would choose to use something other than what is issued. Many firefighters build, adapt, or purchase tools that they see as more suited to them, I’m proposing that we empower them with design and manufacturing professionals to produce semi-custom tools that will better meet these expressed needs.