Running into burning building is just another day for firefighter. Mostly when everyone tries to get out from the fire, they run to the building and save lives. Being firefighter can be dangerous if you cannot get a technology that can help them while saving other lives.
Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate parter up with TRX System to help rural small fire departments keep track of their firefighters inside burning buildings. Fortunately it is a low cost tool which is using Beacon which they can afford it.
The Firefighter Accountability and Proximity system (FFAP) uses beacons that send alerts when a firefighter is down, pinpointing the location by measuring the relative distance and elevation between beacons.
“The system is designed for small and volunteer fire departments in rural areas,” Christine Lee, the responder technology program manager said. “Small and volunteer fire departments don’t have the funding to purchase new equipment and tools; so what we wanted to do was develop something very cost effective that they could use with their teams to fight fires.”
The FFAP beacon automatically turns on when it detects motion. It sends out an alarm if its wearer doesn’t move or if the firefighter carrying the beacon manually sends an alert. The beacons are tracked through an Android smartphone application.
“Using the smartphone application, the team leader can see where every beacon is located,” with firefighters that are in distress displayed in red, Lee said.
The system uses the time-of-flight method in which the beacons send signals back and forth to each other. The time that the signal takes to travel is used to calculate the distance between the beacons.
The beacon will send firefighter’s position, even if they’re behind wall or object. Multiple beacons can also be tracked at the same time to improve situation awareness of all team member.
Lee said that the beacons work better in this situation than geospatial positioning systems. “One of the reasons why we didn’t use GPS is because depending where you are in a building or what kind of building it is, you may not be able to get a signal,” Lee said.
Based on the positive reviews from the Herman Fire Company, Lee said the FRG plans on giving 100 units to other departments across the country for additional feedback before they upgrade the product and put it on the market.