Having the right tools is essential for firefighters to do their jobs. This includes the physical equipment they use every day, the communication skills they develop as a team, their initial fire training, and their ongoing fire CE (continuing education).
But now, artificial intelligence (AI) and a variety of other advanced technologies are changing and improving the way that firefighters respond to emergency situations. Medical AI is helping EMS professionals detect cardiac arrests faster and autonomous vehicles could transport first responders and equipment more quickly and efficiently with less risk of collision.
Let’s take a deeper look at a few of the emerging technologies that could help improve the way professionals fight fires and prepare for emergencies.
AUDREY, the Assistant for Understanding Data through Reasoning, Extraction, and sYnthesis, is a NASA-developed software application that “performs data fusion and provides tailored situational awareness to first responders.”
In other words, AUDREY collects essential fire data — like temperatures, the presence of gases, how quickly a fire develops, how the items that are burning effect fire growth, how much time firefighters have to respond, and fire flow paths. It then uses that data to help guide first responders through the scenario in the safest and most effective way possible.
AUDREY builds on a firefighter’s most important tools, their five senses and training, to keep teams and communities safe and minimize fire damage.
Currently, AUDREY is in the learning stage. Scientists and programmers are working with first responders to teach AUDREY fire behavior through controlled burns.
In the future, the hope is that AUDREY can serve as a guide for first responders and “track an entire team of firefighters, sending relevant signals to individuals while helping to make recommendations for how they could work together.”
Using wearable sensors, a mobile device, or other mounted displays on each firefighter’s equipment, AUDREY could detect the individual’s location, the temperature of surrounding areas, and the presence of dangerous substances, and use that information to direct firefighters away from potential structural collapses or toxic areas.
You may be familiar with using 360-videos on your phone or social media, but this technology could prove life-saving for first responders. These videos have already been used over social media to offer observers real-time views of natural disasters and emergency situations.
Another important aspect of 360 video cameras is the ability to use them across the water, on the ground, and in the air. Combined with other forms of first responder AI, 360-videos could provide essential views for responding to fires, floods, building collapses, or active shooter situations.
Virtual, mixed, and augmented reality technology can be used for more than video games or immersive travel experiences. These technologies are anticipated to become a crucial part of EMS and fire training in the future.
Using immersive environments, future firefighters can practice responding in emergency situations and learn from real-time action and response using haptic touch and even digital scents.
The same technology can also be used as part of community education, putting children and families through fire scenarios to help them learn and internalize appropriate responses.
AI that helps firefighters extends into the everyday tools used in the home. With so many fatal home fires occurring between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., research into maternal voice smoke alarms is signaling major changes in traditional home alarm systems.
Studies show that the standard fire alarm tones are effective at waking adults, but children are less likely to wake in response. New studies are examining the effects of using personalized parental voice alarms instead, and these alarms are proving three times more likely to wake children than traditional options.
This technology could prove life-saving for children and give them more time to escape in case of fire.
While some of these technologies are still in development, there are many tools already in use that improve fire training and reporting, including scenario-based education, virtual instructor-led courses, and virtual reality. At CareerCert, we invest in industry-leading training and education that can help firefighters and EMS providers gain critical skills and prepare for the situations they will face in the field. To learn more about how we can help you better protect your department and community, click here.