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Providing Fire Fighters with Technology for Excellent Work Safety

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Novel technology assists firefighting

Combating dangerous fires inside buildings could become an easier task with the invention of a new high-tech firefighting jacket that provides key information to fire crews.

Industrial Technologies

Fighting fires is a perilous job that each year claims the lives of over 5 000 people in Europe, as well as about 100 firefighters who lose their lives in the line of duty. The EU-funded project 'Providing fire fighters with technology for excellent work safety' (PROFITEX) developed new technology to help ensure the safety of firefighters in their job and make it easier. The technology involves a high-tech firefighting jacket with an infrared camera and sensors, as well as a braided security rope to facilitate communication and transmit crucial data to controllers. Known as Smart LifeLine, the system was designed to overcome limitations in transmitting data such as movement and localisation using wireless communication. The solution enables firefighters to view information delivered rapidly onto their visors in order to make their task easier, while providing more comprehensive data to commanders outside the building for quick decision making. To build such an advanced system, the project team worked on creating a prototype and outlining system requirements. It conducted a financial analysis of the system and its exploitability in the market, considering not only firefighting applications but also those related to civil defence, police and army operations. Additionally, the work involved conducting workshops and involving end users in the process, building as well an online community to exchange information and spur discussion on the proposed system. In parallel, the project team worked on optimal textiles for the jacket, LifeLine interface, resistant cabling, video transmission, software needed and hardware requirements. It also completed testing, evaluation and preparation for certification of the system in line with relevant laws and bodies. Key project results were disseminated through brochures, press releases and the project website, as well as through international conferences, paving the way to exploit the technology. If the LifeLine solution is commercialised, it will help upgrade firefighting in Europe and undoubtedly save many lives in a number of situations. This European endeavour may redefine emergency response worldwide.

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