Making a Dangerous Job Safer: Report Provides Roadmap Toward Smarter Fire Fighting

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) collaborated with the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) to produce the recent “Research Roadmap for Smart Fire Fighting: Summary Report“. In this report, readers find statistics regarding the hazards of fire fighting, damage caused, lives lost and disadvantages faced by fire fighters. 

One large disadvantage is the lack of critical information that could mean the difference between life and death. “[T]he roadmap charts the path toward overcoming technical obstacles so that those interconnected technologies, known collectively as cyberphysical systems, or CPS, can be harnessed to greatly improve fire-protection and fire-fighting capabilities.” 

This roadmap is meant to push fire departments across the nation to implement CPS applications to provide critical information before, during and after an incident. The authors of this report argue that the cost would not be prohibitive, as ‘smart’ fire fighting (that is, fire fighting utilizing CPS applications) “can capitalize on growing collections of community and building-related data […] and the increasing adoption of computer-controlled building management systems.”

“For example, units responding to a high-rise fire could access information on current traffic conditions to determine the fastest route to the scene. And while en route, fire fighters could go over building drawings and floor plans, scan surveillance cameras to locate occupants, check whether hazardous materials are on the site, and review other information vital to mounting an effective fire-and-rescue operation.”

Some barriers to this technological development include: Cognitive Overload, Alert Fatigue, and Competition for the User’s Attention; System versus Component View; Interoperability and Integration; User-Centered Design; and the Need for New Standards. This roadmap lists all the benefits, challenges, returns and barriers on smart fire fighting. 


The Roadmap can be viewed here with no login required: 

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