Firefighters and EMS workers are no strangers to advanced technological tools. In emergency situations, proper tech equipment, such as rugged industrial tablets can be vital. Fortunately, there are plenty of options suitable for the hazardous environments on the market. In this article, we want to review the seven best rugged tablets for firefighters and tell you what makes them stand out from the rest.
We also will take a closer look at why these devices are so essential and what you should look for when making a choice. Finally, we’ll mention popular rugged tablet accessories and helpful software apps.
- Why Do Firefighters Need Rugged Tablets?
- The Most Important Features of Rugged Tablets for Firefighters
- Accessories for Rugged Tablets
- Best Apps for Firefighters
- Best Rugged Tablets for Firefighters
- Choosing the Right Tablet for Your Team
Why Do Firefighters Need Rugged Tablets?
When we think about firefighting, everyone understands that their main job is to extinguish fires and save lives. To do that efficiently and with a more significant percentage of success, they need to know the current situation, and that includes several variables.
Mobile technology enables firefighters to bring up the schematics of the building on fire. Having up-to-date layouts of the building can genuinely make all the difference when it comes to saving lives. Now imagine if they only carried regular tablets. Standard tablets are not well-suited for professional firefighters and could be damaged easily.
Instead, they need durable and toughened devices to withstand the working conditions firefighters and EMS workers find themselves in every day. Let’s highlight several other crucial reasons why firefighters need rugged tablets, especially those devices with integrated barcode scanners:
- Complete mobility in the field – a rugged tablet is easily removed from the vehicles.
- Better efficiency in inspection and maintenance – in some areas, firefighters are charged with checking industrial sights and evaluating risks.
- They can use rugged tablets to track inventory and stock levels in the precinct.
- They eliminate duplication of work and reduce the chance of errors.
- Rugged tablets are used to organize mission-critical information from everywhere.
- They expedite issuing relevant permits.
The Most Important Features of Rugged Tablets for Firefighters
An ideal tablet for a firefighter will not be the average mobile device you carry to work or use at home. We’re all somewhat used to the idea that the smartphones and tablets we use are pretty fragile due to their large touchscreens.
They’re also sensitive to water, dust, and shock. That’s why we put them in cases and make sure to care for them properly.
That’s not something a firefighter should have to worry about. They need a device that works flawlessly even when they’re wearing gloves, have wet hands, and especially when the temperatures are high. A rugged tablet can be indispensable for a firefighter so long as it performs as it’s meant to.
Now, let’s talk about the most important features of a rugged tablet meant for firefighters and EMS workers:
- Easy to maintain – firefighting is messy work, and any tablet you use should have a quick and straightforward cleaning process
- Vehicle mountable – while you’re in motion, you need to be able to put the tablet in the vehicle to remain hands-free. At the same time, you should be able to take it with you when necessary
- Integrated barcode scanner – it allows accurate and fast scans, even with damaged tags and low light
- Connectivity – Wi-Fi and 4G LTE connectivity are essential to make sure everyone is in communication
- Secure and user-friendly software and interface
- Impervious to the elements – dust-proof, waterproof, and shock-proof features are essential
- Various ports for accessories
- Camera for photo documentation
Accessories for Rugged Tablets
We already mentioned that a rugged tablet for firefighters should have different ports that allow accessories. This is very important, as tablets for firefighters and EMS workers have multiple purposes.
These add-ons aim to increase the efficiency and productivity of firefighters and allow even easier use of the tablet. Here are the most common types of rugged tablet accessories:
- Scan handle – if you have an integrated barcode scanner in the tablet, a scan handle will be useful
- Tablet docks – at the firefighting precinct, charging docks for multiple tablets save time
- Vehicle mounts – they securely attach the tablet to the vehicle and allow quick removal too
- Keyboards – specialized keyboards for rugged tablets are also available, which allow more efficient data entry
- Hand straps – carrying your rugged laptop on the job by holding a strap can be more convenient
Best Apps for Firefighters
Firefighters must hold a plethora of information that can help them in critical situations. That’s just the nature of the job. However, since they carry their mobile devices wherever they go, they can also leverage this technology to make their already challenging work a little easier.
We’re talking about specialized apps for firefighters. Here are several apps that can be useful for firefighters and EMS workers. The best part is that most of them are free and available for iOS and Android operating systems.
One of the realities of being a firefighter is running into hazardous materials on a regular basis. The Wiser app provides accurate and comprehensive information about many hazardous substances.
Firefighters and EMS workers can use the Drugs.com app to look up and identify all kinds of pills and keep track of medication on their tablets.
This app is exactly what it claims to be. Whether you’re a firefighter in training or a seasoned firefighter, this app can improve your skillset.
It’s a comprehensive training app that includes various verified materials and textbooks. It has integrated practice exams and flashcards, too. You can purchase it from Google Play or App Store for $4.99
Best Rugged Tablets for Firefighters
Now that we’ve covered why rugged tablets are necessary for emergency services, we can review seven excellent devices.
Each of these rugged tablets has a rightful place on this list due to its quality, but we’ll discuss the ways they’re different as well.
1. Samsung Galaxy Active Pro
Samsung is undoubtedly the leader in the mobile computing industry. When it comes to the Android operating system, they create some of the best devices on the market.
The same is true for this rugged tablet, suitable for various hazardous environments and professions, including firefighting. It runs on Android 9 Pie and has 4GB RAM, 64GB of internal memory, Wi-Fi, and LTE options for connectivity. The battery is user-replaceable, which is really helpful.
Speakers are quite impressive as they use AKG with Dolby Atmos technology. You also get the S pen with this tablet which might not be necessary on the job but will be a great addition when working on data entry.
It has a 10-inch display optimized for landscape mode and a front-facing camera, as well as one on the rear. On top of that, this is a more affordable option from Samsung but without notable compromise over the quality.
- Excellent battery capacity
- Snapdragon 670 processor
- High-quality speakers
- IP68 rating for ruggedness
- No screen protector
2. Dell Latitude 7220
Take one look at the Dell Latitude 7220, and you’ll realize that this tablet was made for the most rugged and hazardous working conditions imaginable. And that makes it a fantastic choice for firefighters.
It has an IP65 rating that essentially means it’s immune to dust (even sandstorms) and is entirely waterproof and shock-proof.
This is a quite bulky and heavy rugged tablet, but it’s also extremely well-built. It has a designated keyboard which is very comfortable for typing. The display is 11.6-inches in diameter and allows both LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Since this is a Dell tablet, it runs on Windows operating system. The entire tablet is covered in matte black polycarbonate plastic, but the corners have rubberized bumpers. It’s not sleek or fancy, but it’s incredibly durable and a great rugged tablet option.
- IP65 rating for dust
- Bright display
- Sturdy construction
- No Thunderbolt 3 port
3. Sonim RS80
It’s impossible to talk about the best rugged tablets for firefighters and not mention Sonim. More specifically, Sonim RS80 SmartScanner. This device encompasses pretty much everything a firefighter or an EMS worker may need in any given situation.
It’s a typically rugged Sonim device that has an 8-inch fully readable display and a built-in barcode scanner. The RS80 is classified as ultra-rugged and is not only impervious to dust and water, but also harsh chemicals.
It’s GMS compatible and runs on Android 10 OS. You also get a high-capacity multi-shift battery which allows for nearly 20 hours of talking and up to 20 days in standby mode.
There’s the quick charge feature thanks to the USB-C port. It has an IP67 rating, which makes it dust-proof and waterproof.
You also don’t have to worry about whether you’ll hear the notification in a noisy environment, as the speakers are exceptionally loud. Overall, this is one of the best rugged tablets for firefighters, and it has a fantastic design.
- Integrated barcode scanner
- High-capacity battery
- Carrying strap for ease of use
- Sunlight readable
- Push-to-talk support
- The screen could be bigger
4. Panasonic Toughpad FZ G1
When you’re on your way to save lives, you want to have reliable tools that help along the way. With Panasonic Toughpad FZ G1, that’s exactly what you get.
This tablet was made for dangerous environments and can withstand drops, spills, bashes, bumps, and everything else in between. The Panasonic Toughpad runs on Windows OS and Intel Core i5 processor.
The screen is 10.1-inches and has adjustable brightness. It’s rated IP65, which means you can carry it with you even to the dirtiest and dustiest environments.
- Very durable
- Super-fast performance
- Solid structure
- High-resolution screen
- Only one USB port
5. Samsung Galaxy TAB Active
This is another gem from Samsung, as it delivers a modern and durable, rugged phone great for firefighters and EMS workers. In terms of specs, we’re talking about Android 10 OS, which means you can expect easy and intuitive navigation.
You also get 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage, which may not be the best around but will be sufficient for many users. It comes with USB 3.0 and USB-C ports, which means it’s suitable for many rugged tablet accessories.
You get the rear camera with 13MP and the front camera with 5MP, which is handy. This is a very well-built tablet that will ensure all types of natural elements. It also has customizable buttons, and the 4G version of the device can also make calls.
- Android 10 OS
- Excellent performance
- Physical buttons
- Various ports
- A bit pricey
6. MobileDemand T1540
If you’re looking for a rugged tablet compatible with numerous accessories, perhaps consider MobileDemand T1540.
Not only does it have a designated keyboard, but it also comes with a patented mount rail system. The tablet runs on Windows 10 Professional OS and has a fast processor.
It’s a lightweight and powerful rugged tablet with a 10.1-inch display. It also comes with a briefcase-carrying handle, which makes it easier to take anywhere you go.
In terms of durability, it can withstand a four-foot drop and has the IP65 rating, which means it’s sealed and protected from dust and water.
- A plethora of accessories available
- 10,000 mAh battery
- Windows 10 Professional
- Poor camera quality
7. Vanquisher Ultra Rugged Tablet
A compact, ultra-thin, affordable – these are the first descriptors that come to mind when talking about the Vanquisher Ultra-rugged tablet.
The screen size is eight inches, and the resolution is 1920×720 pixels. It runs on Windows 10 Professional and has an integrated barcode scanner. It’s a great solution for any workforce, but especially for firefighters and EMS workers.
It has an IP67 waterproof and dust-proof rating. The storage capacity is more than adequate – 128GB, but it can be expanded, too. This is a tablet designed for industrial and hazardous environments and will have an excellent level of reliability.
- Ultra-rugged construction
- 12-month warranty
- Micro HDMI port
- Barcode scanner
- Low sound quality
Choosing the Best Device for Your Team
If you were to choose any of the tablets reviewed in this article, you’d likely find that it performs excellently and that it was a worthy investment.
Every brand we’ve included is a trustworthy name in the mobile computing industry, too. However, brands like Sonim have specialized in creating rugged devices for people who need a super-reliable tool in a moment of crisis.
If you need help choosing the right tablet for your team or for bulk orders of rugged tablets, contact Energy Electronics for a tailored recommendation and a free quote.