Most of us carry our phones wherever we go, including work. Some of us even have special work phones. And if your job is firefighter, a dependable mobile phone made for firefighters can make all the difference.
We’re not talking about just any type of mobile phone, but a toughened device we call a rugged phone. These special types of mobile phones have been around for a while, and fortunately, the industry continually offers innovations. So, what should firefighters, EMS workers, and first responders, in general, expect from their rugged phones?
In this article, we’ll tell you more about why these devices are essential and give you seven fantastic options to consider. We’ll also tell you about the types of accessories available and a few apps for firefighters.
Are Rugged Mobile Phones a Necessity for Firefighters?
In short, the answer is yes. These days, firefighters would have a much more difficult time doing their job without access to mobile computing technologies.
Rugged tablets and smartphones are the norms, and they provide a valuable service. Mobile phones allow firefighters to remain in constant communication with each other, their precinct, and any other agency with which they need to communicate.
While tablets are perhaps more convenient for commanders and fire inspectors, mobile phones are essential for firefighters on the accident scene. Having access to a rugged mobile phone at all times allow firefighters full mobility in the field.
The phones can be mounted in the vehicle or attached to your belt – either way, it’s there when you need it. Using a rugged smartphone in the field also means having access to specialized firefighter apps and resources at any given moment.
The LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity allows instant data transfer and seamless communication. It would be impossible to overstate how useful rugged mobile phones are in emergencies.
If a firefighter or EMS worker uses an efficient and reliable rugged mobile phone, it can have a tremendous impact on the effort to save someone’s life.
Requirements for Rugged Mobile Phones
When it comes to fire service, mobile devices are only as valuable as they are tough. That means that a high-quality, rugged mobile phone for a firefighter must be able to take the heat.
The average smartphone and other mobile devices for personal use are significantly different than what a first responder requires. Our everyday smartphones and tablets are impressive mobile computing innovations, but they’re also sensitive and not suitable for people who fight the fire and save lives every day.
Rugged devices that have been specially designed for challenging environments is the perfect description of what we’re talking about. More specifically, these are the most critical features a rugged mobile phone should have:
- Connectivity – your phone should have Wi-Fi or LTE connectivity, preferably both. Bluetooth connectivity and NFC are a welcomed bonus.
- The integrated barcode scanner is one of the most important features as it allows accurate scans even with damaged tags and low lighting.
- Ease of use – while rugged mobile phones can have sophisticated software, the focus is always on performance and intuitive interface.
- Camera – they should have at least a rear camera with decent quality for photo documentation.
- The dust-proof and waterproof rating is crucial.
- Durability – They should be able to withstand a fall from at least three feet.
- Temperature Resistance – the phone should be fully operational even in extreme temperatures
Accessories for Rugged Mobile Phones
Rugged phones for firefighters and EMS workers are usually modular by nature. It means that most manufacturers offer designated accessories that make the phone even more practical. Here are the most common types of rugged phone accessories users can buy.
Mobile phones are wearables by default, but we’re talking about belt clips or even one-handed straps in terms of accessories.
These accessories ensure that your phone stays firmly in place if you need to run around and focus on other things.
There is a plethora of chargers available for rugged mobile phones. Which is understandable, given that first responders are always on the go and can never be sure when they’ll get access to an outlet to recharge their phones.
Car chargers, desk chargers, and even multi-unit chargers are just some of the options available on the market.
To facilitate better communication while leaving you hands-free, you can get various types of headsets. These accessories are specially designed (the same as the rugged phones) and can withstand harsher environments.
Firefighters need heavy-duty vehicle mounts for their mobile devices, whether it’s a tablet or a mobile phone. These mounts need to be durable, easy to remove, and preferably customizable.
Best Apps for Firefighters and EMS Workers
Mobile devices are a part of nearly every industry and workforce, and it’s no different for those in the life-saving business.
It’s not only about enabling efficient and uninterrupted communication but providing access to information instantly.
Firefighters and EMS workers have access to many specialized apps that can help them perform better at their job. Here are a few fantastic options:
Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders or WISER, has the goal of assisting first responders in the hazmat-related incident.
This app allows emergency services to get accurate information and act quickly in a potentially toxic situation.
Another incredibly useful app for EMS workers especially is Drugs.com. They can use it to look up all drug-related information and identify pills.
Plus, they can keep track of personal medication-related records on a single device. The app has an online database of drugs and a search feature. It also receives FDA alerts. It’s free and you can download it from Google Play or App Store.
How would you feel about carrying a physical pocketbook on the job? Probably not the best idea. That’s why the Firefighter Pocketbook app is a fantastic alternative for firefighters in training, as well as those with years on the job.
It contains textbooks, flashcards, and even practice exams for those who hope to join the profession or just want to brush up on their knowledge. It’s $4.99, and you can get it from both Google Play and App Store.
Top Rugged Mobile Phones
We all understand why rugged phones are vital if you’re a firefighter or EMT. The last thing people under so much stress and action need to worry about is if their mobile phone will fail at the worst possible time.
That’s why we want to introduce seven impressive mobile devices and allow you to see which one works best for you.
1. Doogee S95 Pro
This is a feature-rich rugged mobile phone with modular speakers and many add-on options. Doogee has a unique style, and S95 Pro confirms it. The phone has a pre-installed screen protector, which is perfect because it has a large 6.3-inch screen.
It runs on Android 9.0 Pie, 4G LTE connectivity, NFC, and Bluetooth. It comes with 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage. You can extend the storage, however, with a Micro SD card. The camera quality is more than impressive, with the rear unit featuring 48MP and the front camera 8MP.
It offers a sharp industrial and modular design. There’s the aluminum alloy chassis and rubber around the edges for extra ruggedness. The phone is compliant with IP69K rating, which is the highest available protection against high temperature, dust, or water.
There are several buttons on the phone along the edges, which you can program any way you choose. Regardless of its impressive ruggedness, this is not a chunky phone, and it’s comfortable to hold.
- Camera quality
- Modular design
- IP69K rating
- Slim size
- Add-ons not rugged
2. Sonim RS60
Sonim rugged phones are simply some of the best options on the market. That becomes even more obvious when we take a closer look at their RS60 model which is one of the best rugged smart phones for firefighters.
This is a fully modernized device, which not only runs on Android 10 but comes with a built-in barcode scanner. This can be exceptionally useful for first responders in various ways. This is a device designed for work in hazardous environments.
The screen is fully readable in the sunlight. Plus, it has an anti-fingerprint coating, and you can use the device even when you’re wearing gloves, or your hands are wet. The phone is also MIL-810G and IP67 rated so extremely durable.
It has an impressive loudspeaker and a high-capacity multi-shift battery. Everything about Sonim RS60 indicates that it’s the device any first responder should have, as its premium features allow superior performance.
- Built-in barcode scanner
- Large screen size
- Extreme durability
- Screen readable in sunlight
- Extra-long battery life
- PTT enabled
- Not as much memory as other models
3. Ulefone Armor 10
We’re introducing the first 5G rugged smartphone. Ulefone Armor 10 runs on Android 10, has 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage. The screen is slightly larger at 6.6-inches and 2400×1080 resolution.
The rear camera is excellent (64MP), and the front camera is not bad (16MP.) The phone is fully reinforced with rubber corners, a metal frame, and a larger bezel. It features a fingertip reader too.
The speakers are excellent, and you won’t have any trouble hearing this phone in a noisy environment. The Type-C connector is also available, and there’s a small flap covering to prevent the dust from entering.
Overall, this is a well-built, rugged smartphone that can serve well under harsh environments, whether it’s extinguishing fires or riding a mountain bike.
- Great value
- Excellent construction
- High-quality camera
- Wireless charging
- Maybe too big for some
4. CAT S60
CAT’s rugged mobile devices are well-known for their quality. And it’s no different with their S60 rugged mobile phone, which is the epitome of industrial design.
One aspect where this phone stands out from the rest is its thermal imagining camera, which can be immensely useful for EMS workers and firefighters.
The screen is relatively small – just under five inches – but that makes it ultra-portable and suitable for smaller hands. It’s IP68 certified and can survive a six-foot fall onto concrete. You can also submerge it up to 16-feet in water for up to 60 minutes. Considering the working environments of firefighters, that’s an incredibly useful quality.
There’s also the SOS button hidden behind the waterproof flap. Once you press it, it activates an app that sends your location to your emergency contact.
- Thermal imaging camera
- Excellent ruggedness
- SOS button
- Industrial design
- On the small side
5. Sonim XP6
This rugged mobile phone has been around for a while, and while it runs on an old version of Android and has insufficient internal storage, it’s still one of the best phones for firefighters.
That’s reason enough to take a look at this little device and discover further why it’s built to last and endure all kinds of harsh environments. The durability is superlative – it’s a little brick of a phone. It is covered in molded rummer and hard matte plastic.
There’s a protruding antenna, too, as well as an incredibly loud speaker in the top right corner. Sonim XP6 meets IP68 and IP69 certifications which means that even if you kick it around on concrete and then toss it around some more, the worst damage you can expect is a few scratches.
- Extremely durable
- Loud speakerphones
- Rubberized buttons
- Excellent call quality
- Older OS
6. Samsung Rugby 4
Samsung is well-known for making high-quality smart devices. But their Rugby series is somewhat less known. Samsung Rugby 4 is the company’s answer to a simple, effective, and ultra-rugged mobile phone.
These phones are not easy to find anymore, as they’re what everyone calls a “flip phone.” But how rugged is it really? Well, it has an IP67 and IP68 certification which means it does an excellent job at keeping the dirt and water out.
It’s an great device for firefighters who want a no-fuss type of phone at work every day. There’s plenty of space to touch buttons, which can operate even when you’re wearing gloves. The outer speaker is particularly loud, which is great.
- Great battery
- Light and easy to carry
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Excellent ruggedness
- Hard to come by
7. CAT S62
The S63 is another well-designed CAT rugged phone with exceptional performance. The company has made a modern rugged phone that was built to last. You can rely on the Android 10 operating system for an excellent user experience.
Its 128GB of storage is great, but we also love that this is a surprisingly light phone. There are no rubber bumpers on the corners, which are the norm for so many CAT phones. Instead, there’s a metal band covering all four sides, and it divides the glass from the rubberized rear.
CAT definitely went for a more subtle design for this particular model, so at first glance, you might not even realize that you’re looking at a premium rugged phone.
The camera quality is not impressive but works in a pinch. However, it does have a built-in thermal imaging feature.
- Android 10 OS
- Sleek design
- Built to last
- Poor camera quality
Firefighters Deserve Only the Best Rugged Mobile Phones
Hopefully, this guide on rugged mobile phones for firefighters has given you enough information to help you choose the best one for you.
Indeed, there are many options with various features and price ranges. In terms of quality and pricing, Sonim devices stand out more than any other.
The RS60 model is one many workers in different industries can benefit from, and the same applies to firefighters and EMTs.
If you’re interested in making a bulk order of rugged mobile phones, contact Energy Electronics and get a free quote.