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There aren’t many more life-threatening professions than firefighters.
Like in most high-risk jobs, firemen are constantly required to prioritize the interests of strangers before their own. The fact that they’re often referred to as the heroes without capes speaks volumes.
Fire extinguishment, rescuing casualties from fire-caused disasters, and handling hazardous materials are just a few of the everyday tasks awaiting firefighters.
Although smartwatches don’t play as big a role in the life of a fireman as some of the essential equipment like fire helmets, turnout pants, jackets or breathing apparatus, they can definitely make life in the fire engine easier and, thanks to all the modern features, more insightful.
There’s no doubt that punctuality is extremely important when it comes to the job of a firefighter. A tough-to-beat firefighter watch can go a long way, but what about smart wearables that are constantly growing in popularity?
The common knowledge is that you shouldn’t bring precious devices such as smartwatches to high-risk jobs such as that of a fireman. Undoubtedly, normally these types of watches are more prone to damage than a regular, sturdy timekeeper, ie. G-Shock.
All of the above is true – unless the smartwatch comes from a reputable brand and allows for an extra layer of protection.
To prove that indeed it’s possible to safely wear these devices in the fire engine, I have prepared the list of top 3 products that will hopefully make the task of picking the best smartwatch for firefighters easier.
Note: for maximum safety, each product described below should be purchased with an additional case or screen shield (also listed below). The cases are flexible, meaning you can wear them just for work and enjoy the original design of the watch away from it.
Best Smartwatch for Firefighters (TOP 3 Reviewed)
Apple Watch 6
We kick off the list with what is easily the most advanced smartwatch for a firefighter currently on the market.
Apple Watch series, and particularly the latest release, Apple Watch 6, comes with a plethora of excellent features but can also stand the test of time.
Continue reading only if: you currently own an iPhone or are willing to buy one soon. Unfortunately, Apple Watches are not compatible with Android smartphones and that doesn’t look like changing anytime soon. To move to the next product, simply click here.
Starting with the exterior, the great thing about the series is that all Apple watches are super customizable and can cater to various styles. The huge selection of replaceable bands, loops and watch cases make sure the watch is a great fit for your wrist. Many folks (me included) can’t help themselves and purchase different straps and cases for different occasions.
Just like the physical elements, what you can also have a huge influence on is the screen design. Apple Watch comes with tens of free watch faces ranging in style and perfectly suitable for sports events, business meetings or everyday activities. Since Series 5, Apple Watch allows for the AOD (Always-On-Display) mode, a feature we were longing for for years. No more weird wrist movements to check the time!
The watch is available in two versions – the standard one and the GPS + Cellular (listed in this article). What differentiates the two is the fact that the latter can function as a standalone device. In other words, it supports LTE sim cards, making it possible to leave your smartphone at home and perform all the phone actions from your wrist.
Apple Watch 6 is known mostly for its excellent choice of health-related apps – all of them free. The ones definitely deserving mention are:
- Heart Rate Monitor – gives you a general insight into your everyday wellbeing. In stressful professions such as that of a fireman, it helps you learn about what type of situations provoke the biggest stress response
- Sleep Tracker – the importance of a good night’s sleep shouldn’t be overlooked. With this app, you can monitor your sleeping patterns and, either with the help of supplements or different sleeping hours, find that sweet spot that makes you feel the most rested and ready to tackle challenges at work
- Blood Oxygen Sensor – one of the features that help Series 6 stand out from the previous releases. The app further boosts the understanding of your overall well-being by measuring the oxygen saturation of your blood
- ECG Monitor – Apple Watch is one of very few smartwatches on the market with an FDA-approved ECG app. It has been tested in many heart-related studies and has proved to deliver accurate results, like discovering pre-existing conditions such as Atrial Fibrillation or other forms of heart arrhythmia.
On top of all the premium features mentioned above, the watch comes with a long list of fitness-related apps, ie. for gym workouts or jogging. Naturally, it’s also equipped with a GPS.
Moreover, thanks to Apple Pay you can enjoy contactless payments from your wrist. All you need to do is connect your credit/debit card with the app.
Durability-wise, it’s pretty much as good as smartwatches can get.
The water-resistance rating sits at 50m, which makes it splashproof and safe to use during everyday activities such as showering or washing dishes. Since it’s probably going to be hidden under your fireman’s jacket, you shouldn’t worry too much about the contact with water in the field.
As solid as Apple Watch is, it’s essential to make sure of the additional layer of protection during the workday. Nowadays, it’s pretty straightforward (and cheap!) to turn your Apple smartwatch into a near-unbreakable unit.
Unicorn Beetle Pro is the latest and the most sturdy Apple Watch case for firefighters. It ensures:
- Effortless access to all features and buttons
- Shock absorption thanks to the rugged bumper
- Extra screen protection thanks to the raised bezel
- Adjustable built-in watch band
You can get it pretty cheap here.
Perhaps one field in which Apple could do better is battery life. Apple Watch 6, similar to all previous releases, requires everyday charging as the battery is likely to last about 18 hours during normal use (without the always-on GPS). The good news, it only takes around 90 minutes to fully charge it.
Samsung Galaxy Active 3
If you own an Android smartphone and don’t plan on switching to the iPhone series, you will struggle to find a better smartwatch for a firefighter than the newest release by Samsung, Galaxy Active 3.
The model comes in two different sizes. The smaller, measuring 41mm in diameter, is probably a better fit for women and men with slender wrists. The other version of the watch boasts a 45mm case which is a fairly standard size for a wristwatch.
It’s also available in three colors – bronze, silver and black (described here).
Although not as customizable as the Apple Watch, Galaxy Active 3 makes it possible to choose from a number of watch bands. As well as offering different colors, you can also pick from ranging strap materials.
The version of the watch included here comes with a stainless steel case and leather strap. If money is not an issue, you can get the most durable titanium variation.
Like in the case of the Apple Watch, the screen is made from Corning Gorilla Glass DX. Akin to the Apple model, it allows for the Always-On Display mode.
When it comes to the so-called premium smartwatch features, Samsung Galaxy Active 3 matches most of what’s on offer with the Apple Watch.
Health-related apps such as HR monitor, sleep quality tracker and blood oxygen sensor are available. Lately, Samsung’s ECG app has also received long-awaited FDA approval.
There’s also a plethora of fitness apps to help you keep track of your progress.
Galaxy Active 3 has a clear upper hand over Apple Watch because it’s compatible both with Android and iOS smartphones. Apple, take note.
Akin to the Apple Series 6, the Samsung smartwatch is available in both Bluetooth and LTE versions. The one listed in the article supports the LTE and therefore can function as a separate cellular device.
Furthermore, thanks to Samsung Pay, you can leave your cash and credit cards at home and enjoy contactless payments with your smartwatch.
Considering the nature of your job, and should you decide to go with the Galaxy Active 3, it’s wise to invest in additional screen protection. You can get a reliable RinoGear screen shield for less than $1 / piece here.
When it comes to battery life, the Samsung smartwatch scores much higher than the Apple model. Even with most of the apps running (including Always-On-Display), the battery is likely to last around 2 days. The result is a considerable improvement on the predecessor, Galaxy Active 3, which lasts half the time. It’s disappointing to say the least that the battery lifespan of Apple watches hasn’t improved a bit for years.
Garmin Venu SQ
We round off the list of the best smartwatches for firefighters with Garmin Venu SQ. Being compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones, the watch is an excellent alternative to the two smartwatches discussed above. Especially if they’re asking too much of your budget.
With Venu SQ, we’re back to the rectangular case shape so characteristic of all Apple releases.
The model is available in few design variations. Apart from the dark gray version included here, you can pick from quite a few different options, including purple and white.
The series includes two watch types – the standard Venu SQ (listed above) and Venu SQ Music. The only difference between the two is the fact that Venu SQ music allows you to download your favorite songs directly onto your watch, making phone-free listening a possibility. Personally, I find the $50+ price difference a bit too big for this feature alone but if you’re music-mad and don’t feel like carrying your phone every time you want to listen to it, you can check the Venu SQ music version here.
When it comes to the Garmin product, the selection of bands and cases isn’t anywhere near as huge as with the Apple Watch 6 or Galaxy Active 3. Nevertheless, the model is equipped with tens of free watch faces with which you can beautify the display.
The case, featuring an aluminum bezel, measures 40,6mm in diameter and is made from polymer. Protecting the smartwatch from scratches is a durable form of liquid crystal. The watch comes with a silicone band.
On the waterproofing front, it comes with the exact same water-resistance as the two previous picks – 50m.
Even though there’s not much to complain about durability-wise, it’s wise to provide the watch with some extra protection – so it’s less prone to damage in the fire engine. There’s quite a big selection of inexpensive watch cases and screen protectors here.
Garmin Venu SQ is equipped with a wide range of cool features, although some present in the two smartwatches above is missing here.
Most noticeably, there’s no ECG app. The watch does include most of the other premium features, though, such as:
- Heart Rate monitor
- Sleep Quality Tracker
- Blood Oxygen Sensor
On top of that, Garmin Venu offers a neat Body Battery energy levels app, thanks to which you can learn about the best times for activity and rest.
Other built-in apps worth mentioning include Hydration and Respiration monitors, helping you stay properly hydrated and keep track of your breathing patterns during different activities throughout the day, respectively.
Naturally, akin to both smartwatches discussed above, Venu SQ is loaded with fitness-related apps and pre-programmed workouts. It also has a GPS feature.
Unfortunately, the watch doesn’t offer support for LTE. To work properly it has to be connected to your smartphone and can’t function as a standalone device, unlike the Apple and Samsung models. The good news is: it’s compatible with both iOS and Android operating systems.
Like Apple and Samsung smartwatches, Garmin Venu SQ too offers contactless payments through Garmin Pay.
Even though it’s by far the least expensive product on the list, Venu SQ holds an advantage over the Apple and Galaxy Active watches in terms of battery life. In a regular smartwatch mode, the model can last up to 6 days – a fair improvement, on both, you’d have to say.