New Technology Unveiled, the Future of Firefighting

(NECN: Katelyn Tivnan) - The future of firefighting was on display at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), where engineers showed off new technology that protects firefighters.

Worcester firefighters tested the small black box that could be the key to saving lives.

The first responder location system was developed in part by WPI and the Department of Homeland Security.

Tuesday, it was introduced in its first ever public demonstration.

“The ability of tracking firefighters when they go to a building has been a major challenge for the longest time dating back to Worcester fire in 1999 when several firefighters died,” said Jalal Mapar.

As part of the testing, Worcester firefighters wore the device during two staged drills.

The goal is to track them remotely when they are inside a building.

An incident commander can monitor the firefighters locations on a computer screen and guide them or find them if needed.

A workshop helping to develop the technology has taken place at WPI for seven years.

“I would call today the first successful demonstration so for me it's a huge thrill but I'm mostly happy for the firefighters,” said WPI Professor David Cyganki.

Deputy Fire Chief John Sullivan says the biggest development is the ability to see firefighters locations in 3D.

It's the first time commanders on the outside are able to see the exact floors the firefighters are on.

“There's a trail that goes through the building and I'm able to see where they've been and where they are in relatively real time,” the fire chief said.

This black box is the tracking device; it clips right onto these brackets attached to firefighters oxygen tanks. Once it’s secured, they are ready to go into the building.

The technology could be complete in the next 18 months.

“Our firefighters in 99 who lost their lives, this is a dedication to them.”

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