Archive for August 20th, 2012

New technology for firefighter safety?

Chris Ranck found this article discussing some new technology meant to improve firefighter safety:

 … the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology division has three projects underway that should reduce risk and improve the safety of U.S. firefighters.

When firefighters enter a building or a wildfire they “vanish off the map” in the words of DHS S&T — meaning a GPS satellite signal cannot follow them. Most firefighters also still use analog radio signals, which have problems getting through concrete, tunnels, forest and smoke-filled structures.

Yet nearly 90 percent of fire-related firefighter injuries happen within these types of structures, where locating an injured firefighter is a real challenge.

GLANSER is the Geospatial Location Accountability and Navigation System for Emergency Responders, a tool that lets incident commanders locate and track first responders inside enclosed areas.

This portable tracking device comprises a microwave radio, battery and navigation technology. The commander can plug a USB powered base station into a laptop that transmits and receives signals; the more firetrucks with base stations the better the accuracy.

The GLANSER system can track approximately 500 firefighters simultaneously in a 50 story building and is accurate to as little as three feet.

The Star Trek-style PHASER

Rather than a weapon, PHASER is like a tricorder for firefighters.

PHASER is the Physiological Health Assessment System for Emergency Responders program that DHS S&T has been working on with UCLA. It monitors the pulse, body temperature and blood pressure of a firefighter and then relays his or her vitals back to the base.

According to U.S. Fire Administration statistics, an estimated 81,000 firefighter injuries occur annually in the United States.

U.S. first responders have the highest occupational rate of line-of-duty deaths from cardiovascular and cerebrovascular incidents, making the ability to monitor and assist them an imperative.

Enabled by breakthroughs in medical science and technology, PHASER can instantly signal that a firefighter is in trouble and therefore expedite assistance from fellow firefighters.

While PHASER will let the commander know a firefighter is in trouble, fellow firefighters will still need to locate him or her. GLANSER and WISPER are two new technologies that can guide them to his exact location swiftly bring medical assistance.

PHASER uses a 900-MHz frequency, and due to its portable size, it needs a boost or it could be stopped by a wall or wall of trees in a wildfire. So it works with WISPER to achieve that boost and get the signal to the commander in spite of obstructions.

The Wireless Intelligent Sensor Platform for Emergency Responder (WISPER) relays a firefighter’s vital signs back to the firetruck so that the base can monitored them and track him through a fire.

To use the system, a firefighter would carry a waterproof and heatproof canister (the coffee-mug sized containter is protected up to 500 degree Fahrenheit) on his belt with five of these throwaway signal routers — little discs wrapped in heat-resistant silicon.

When he enters an environment where his signal becomes disrupted, the base station signals his motor-powered canister to release a router or “crumb” as DHS S&T describes — just like in the Hansel and Gretel fable.

The routers arrange themselves like a network and pass the signal from node to node back to the laptop. Each WISPER has an antenna, a two-way digital radio and a 3-volt lithium cell.

Back at the base station, the WISPERs signal strength is monitored and if it falters the signal will be re-directed or the canister instructed to drop a WISPER.

The entire article can be found HERE.

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SAFER Grant awarded to Hoffman Estates

The Daily Herald announced that the Hoffman Estates Fire Department is a SAFER Grant recipient:

 The Hoffman Estates fire department will have an opportunity to hire new firefighters for the first time in more than four years thanks to a federal grant.

Fire chief Robert Gorvett said while he still needs to meet with the village manager to discuss details before accepting the money, he is very excited that the department was offered a $581,565 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The grant — which is funded by the Department of Homeland Security’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program — is awarded to help fire departments nationwide with hiring initiatives aimed at increasing the number of front-line firefighters.

Since 2008, the number of Hoffman Estates firefighters has decreased from 106 to 93, Gorvett said. There were never any layoffs, but as people retired they weren’t replaced.

 If the grant is accepted the plan would be to hire three new firefighters for a two-year period, Gorvett said. However, it is likely that at least three current employees will retire within in those years, meaning the department could hopefully keep the new hires permanently once the grant money runs out.“We would plan to retain them,” Gorvett said.The use of the grant money is limited to the cost of salaries and benefits for the new employees. Assuming they had no prior experience, the department would have to pay to put the new hires through the fire academy, emergency medical technician school and paramedic school. That, along with the cost of protective clothing, would cost about $15,000 per employee, Gorvett said.

Read the entire article HERE.

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Munster Fire Department

Brad Steinweg has sent in several images of the Munster Fire Department stations and apparatus since they are not yet on the site.

Munster Fire Department patch

Munster Fire Department Station 2

Munster Station 2. Brad Steinweg photo

Munster Fire Department Spartan Custom Fire Engine

Munster Engine 2223 is a 2012 Custom FIre on a Spartan Gladiator Metro Star Classic chassis with a 1,500-GPM pump and 750 gallons of water. Brad Steinweg photo

Munster Fire Department Truck 2221

Truck 2221 is a 2001 American LaFrance Eagle with a 2,000-GPM pump, 250 gallons of water, and a 100′ LTI RM tower ladder. Brad Steinweg photo

Munster Fire Department Engine 2224 HME Ahrens Fox

Engine 2224 is a 1998 HME Ahrens Fox with a 1,500-GPM pump and 700 gallons of water. Brad Steinweg photo

Munster Fire Department Station 3

Munster Station 3. Brad Steinweg photo

Munster Fire Department Engine 2226

Munster Engine 2226 is a 2007 IHC 4300 4-dr built by Custom Fire with a 1,500-GPM pump and 700 gallons of water. Brad Steinweg photo

Munster Fire Department Engine 2222

Engine 2222 is a 2000 2010 Custom Fire on an IHC chassis with 700 galloons of water and a 1,500-GPM pump. Brad Steinweg photo

Munster Fire Department

Munster 2245 is a 2008 Chevy Suburban. Brad Steinweg photo

Munster Fire Department Engine 2225

Munster Engine 2225 is a 2007 American LaFrance Eagle with a 1,500-GPM pump and 750 gallons of water. Brad Steinweg photo

Munster Fire Department Engine 2223R

Reserve Engine 2223 is was a 1978 1987 Mack MC/Boyer with a 1,000-GPM pump and 500 gallons of water. Brad Steinweg photo



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