Fire prevention and fire safety equipment are undergoing a revolution thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). Connected to low power wide area (LPWA) or even cellular networks, fire safety IoT stands to enhance prevention, speed up response times, and keep first responders safe when walking into the fire.
Smarter, faster, safer solutions on a robust network
IoT’s data capabilities provides more information for teams planning evacuations, rescues, and fire suppression. If your department is ready to arm itself with the latest assessment tools, wearable alert systems, and seamless coordination capabilities, it’s time to invest in an IoT technology upgrade, says Carmi Brandis of Aeris.
Protecting the protectors – IoT for municipal fire department applications
The National Fire Protection Agency reports that 1,345,500 fires took place in the U.S. during 2015, resulting in 3,280 civilian deaths and $14.3 billion (€12.13 billion) in property damage. Despite improved safety equipment and training, the greatest danger firefighters face are all the unknown factors they must deal with when they arrive on scene. What’s the layout of the building? How much longer does it have until it collapses? How many people still are inside? Where is the best place to enter and exit?
The longer it takes to assess, enter, and navigate a burning building, the higher the probability of property loss, injury, and loss of life.
Imagine if technology could assist with these unknowns, allowing firefighters to act with greater confidence. As Fire Rescue points out, many departments already employ smart technology, such as thermal cameras. But what if leaders on the ground or even consultants miles away could see what firefighters using cameras and other navigational tools see in real-time? IoT networking makes this possible.
Tracking team members
Networks linking a suite of IoT technologies can be set up at any fire site so as to communicate and share data to keep your team safe. With fire engines acting as the wireless hotspot for each IoT linked device in a fire department’s inventory, the captain on scene can monitor team and individual movement through the fire and direct each member accordingly.
Oftentimes, IoT can integrate with existing alarms, personal safety devices, and fire suit technology with minor adjustments to make the changeover process easier for fire departments on a limited budget. In particular, tracking technology promises to keep firefighters safer by reporting each team member’s exact location directly to the shift commander.
While GPS-based trackers may not work inside a concrete or steel structure, there are other options. Lightweight RFID-based trackers that can reveal a team member’s location at any time can be embedded in any suit to communicate continuously with the linked network.
By monitoring each team member’s location at all times in conjunction with linked thermal cameras, commanders can begin to map out the response location and offer precise guidance for the team’s movement. As equipment is easy to lose in a smoky environment, different tools can be similarly tagged and tracked to prevent loss or to enable retrieval either during or after a fire.
In the near future, IoT may even allow for the addition of robotic scouts to clear the way, mark out safe and dangerous rooms, and identify fire victims in need of rescue. In some cases, these scouts may be able to arrive on scene faster than humans, cutting down response times still further. Likewise, these robots could be combined with mapping technologies and heat sensors or even deployed with oxygen resupply for victims and firefighters trapped inside a burning building.
Improving team safety with Aeris solutions
Whether your team protects suburban families or a downtown business district, Aeris values the work of firefighters and hopes to improve the safety of those that keep us safe in emergency situations. We offer unique network packages that can be adapted to your team’s specific needs and will provide one-on-one consultation to identify the best network solutions for your particular IoT applications.
The author of this blog is Carmi Brandis of Aeris