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Firefighting

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Saver lets people breathe while escaping fires

While a smoke detector can certainly provide you with an early warning in the event of a house fire, it can't usually do much to help you get out of the building once that fire is underway. That's why Toronto-based startup Safety iQ developed the Saver. It's a portable device that reportedly allows users to breathe safely in smoke-filled environments, while also serving as a flashlight and alarm.

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Robotics

Future firefighters may be guided by "robots on reins"

When firefighters need to enter smoke-filled buildings to conduct search or rescue, they frequently suffer from low visibility and often need to feel their way along walls or follow ropes reeled out by the lead firefighter. With a limited supply of oxygen carried by each firefighter, being slowed by the inability to see can severely limit their capacity to carry out duties in these environments. Now researchers from King’s College London and Sheffield Hallam University have developed a robot assistant for firefighters that can help guide them through even the thickest smoke.Read More

Drones

Micro-flyer drone could help a robot to fight fires on ships

This week, the US Office of Naval Research released details regarding a demo of its Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR) conducted last November. The robot, as its name implies, is designed to help human crews fight fires in the close confines of naval vessels. In order to get to those fires quicker, SAFFiR may ultimately receive some help itself from an autonomous drone, that was also part of the demonstration. Read More

Aircraft

New aerial firefighting system gulps water faster

When you're using helicopters to dump water on forest fires, it goes without saying that the faster you can obtain and deliver water from lakes or other sources, the better. Most currently-used systems are able to gather H2O at rates ranging from 1,700 to 4,000 liters (450 to 1,056 US gal) per minute, which is fairly impressive. A new system developed by Spanish firm Inventec, however, is claimed to be capable of sucking up 1,000 L (264 gal) in just five seconds – that scales up to a rate of 12,000 L (3,170 gal) per minute. What's more, it's also said to be safer. Read More

Aircraft

Quadcopter and unmanned helicopter could work together to fight forest fires

You've gotta hand it to Kaman's K-MAX UAS unmanned helicopter ... it's been used to deliver cargo in a combat zone, it's set altitude and payload weight records for airdrops, and it's been part of an autonomous air/ground mission. Now it's teamed up with a quadcopter in an exercise which suggests that the two could be used to fight forest fires, without endangering human pilots. Read More

Good Thinking

Fire Blanket uses spaceship tech to protect forest-firefighters

Last June, a wildfire near Yarnell, Arizona overtook and killed 19 firefighters – even though they had set up fireproof shelters. This inspired Phoenix-based SunSeeker Enterprises to develop a shelter that's better able to withstand the high heat of forest fires. Utilizing a material licensed from NASA to protect the Space Shuttle on re-entry, the Fire Blanket is the result. Read More

Wearables

Emergency crews could start getting messages from their jackets

It's important for firefighters or members of disaster response crews to stay in touch with one another during operations, which is of course why they carry two-way radios. Researchers from Norway's SINTEF group, however, are developing a system that could help even more. It allows users to receive and read text messages hands-free, via their jackets. Read More

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